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TikTok is muting all Universal Music-related songs

TikTok is being forced to take down more music from its platform as a royalties spat with Universal Music Group (UMG) rumbles on. UMG recently yanked recordings it owns or distributes from TikTok including tracks from the likes of superstars Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and The Weeknd. The standoff is now impacting songs published by UMG.

“We are in the process of carrying out Universal Music Group’s requirement to remove all songs that have been written (or co-written) by a songwriter signed to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), based on information they have provided,” TikTok said in a statement. “Their actions not only affect the songwriters and artists that they represent, but now also impact many artists and songwriters not signed to universal.” TikTok added that it is still committed to “reaching an equitable agreement” with UMG.

Due to an issue called split copyrights, if a UMPG-contracted writer has contributed to a song in any way, that track has to be removed from TikTok. So artists who have collaborated with the likes of Swift, Adele, Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, Ice Spice, Elton John, Harry Styles and SZA will see their songs disappearing from TikTok and being muted on videos that currently use them. The move will prevent more artists from plugging their work on the most important platform for promoting music.

According to the BBC, UMG removed around three million songs from TikTok after an agreement over its recording catalog expired. UMG’s deal with TikTok over its publishing catalog (which covers some four million songs) ends later this week, at which point all relevant tracks will have vanished from the short-form video service.

Update 2/28 3:30PM ET: Added confirmation that TikTok is removing songs by UMPG-contracted songwriters.

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