Music Marketing

35% of top TikTok tracks removed by UMG, but fans & savvy artists find workarounds

Seventeen of Billboard’s TikTok Top 50 Chart tracks are no longer available after licensing talks between Universal Music Group and the social video app failed last week.

Now missing tracks include Muni Long’s “Made for Me” (No. 2 on last week’s Billboard TikTok Top 50), Xavi’s “La Diabla” (No. 7), Drake’s “Rich Baby Daddy” (No. 9), and Lana Del Rey’s “Let the Light In” (No. 11).

Fans (& Musicians) Find Workarounds

Many Taylor Swift fans are using cover versions of her tracks to keep Taylor-related TikToks flowing, and some savvy musicians are now posting their own versions of Swift’s songs to take advantage of the trend.

This cover strategy may have a short shelf life since much of Swift’s songwriting catalog is controlled by Universal Music Publishing and must contractually be taken down by the end of February.

TikTok is also home to many bootleg versions of tracks, uploaded without authorization and often mixed or disguised in ways intended to avoid detection.

UMG has long criticized TikTok for not doing more to find and take these offending tracks down.

“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..,” wrote UMG in its letter to artists and songwriters explaining its battle with TikTok. “But when we proposed that TikTok takes similar steps as our other platform partners to try to address these issues, it responded first with indifference, and then with intimidation.” 

MORE: Is UMG’s battle with TikTok an opportunity for independent musicians?

Bruce Houghton is the Founder and Editor of Hypebot, a Senior Advisor at Bandsintown, President of the Skyline Artists Agency, and a Berklee College Of Music professor.

Share on: