If you or your kids use TikTok, don’t feel bad because pretty much every social media user does; then you may have noticed a lack of certain music from your favorite artists on the platform. There’s a standoff regarding royalty payments and AI policies. Variety reports that it has “resulted in a near-complete blackout of all music owned, distributed, and published by the company on the platform.” Now get this: the videos are still on and popping on the platform, but the actual music is being muted – yikes.

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Now it gets murky because new songs from UMG artists, like stars Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, and Niall Horan, can still be discovered on TikTok as of yesterday, but what is the reason is the real question? Variety didn’t have any comment from reps at UMG and TikTok, who both declined.

So, if you don’t know how the whole music on TikTok thing works, it goes like this, as Variety reports: Rights-holders, such as record labels, are not the only way music can be uploaded onto TikTok. Pretty much anyone uploads music and displays it as “original sound” on a user’s post. Then, said sound can be used by virtually anyone on TikTok, including artists. Once that music is on the platform, the rights-holders lose control over the content, and all they can do is send off takedown notices and other notifications via legal means. So it falls on TikTok to follow through by detecting, policing and muting the unauthorized music floating around on its platform. Are you exhausted from that rundown? We are. 


Even though reps from the label declined to comment to Variety, UMG spoke on the situation broadly. They’re, in essence, directing fault to TikTok’s detection software. They dropped a letter to artists breaking down the ban. “TikTok makes little effort to deal with the vast amounts of content on its platform that infringe our artists’ music and it has offered no meaningful solutions to the rising tide of content adjacency issues, let alone the tidal wave of hate speech, bigotry, bullying and harassment on the platform,” from an excerpt of the letter. “The only means available to seek the removal of infringing or problematic content (such as pornographic deepfakes of artists) is through the monumentally cumbersome and inefficient process which equates to the digital equivalent of ‘Whack-a-Mole.’ … We will always fight for our artists and songwriters and stand up for the creative and commercial value of music.” It seems like this is not going to end soon.