On January 31, 2024, Universal Music Group (UMG) removed the music of popular K-pop groups such as BLACKPINK, BTS, ENHYPEN, Stray Kids, and others from TikTok. This decision came after UMG and TikTok failed to reach a new licensing agreement. It affects not only K-pop artists but also Western pop stars like Drake, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, and Taylor Swift

The removal led to a wave of disappointment and concern among K-pop fans on social media, lamenting the loss of a substantial portion of TikTok’s music library.

UMG addressed TikTok and brought up their concerns over royalties in an open letter published a day before the removal. UMG accused TikTok of attempting to underpay artists and songwriters, offering a fraction of what UMG deems fair. The letter emphasized the need for fair compensation for artists and songwriters, protection against the harmful effects of AI on human artists, and ensuring online safety for TikTok users.

Why Universal Music Group is pulling songs from TikTok

TikTok responded to UMG

TikTok responded by criticizing UMG for prioritizing money over the welfare of its artists and songwriters. A ByteDance representative said UMG is spreading a “false narrative.” TikTok defended its platform as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for talent, highlighting its successful agreements with other labels and publishers that prioritize artists. Speaking of artists, this dispute has affected them by limiting their exposure and ability to engage with fans on a platform known for its viral potential.

For fans, this move has led to a diminished experience on TikTok, because they no longer have access to a wide range of music for content creation or enjoyment. Fans who use TikTok to discover new music and connect with artists might find the platform less appealing. This could lead to a shift in where and how they listen to music.

Will UMG and TikTok ever fix things? Your guess is as good as ours, but we hope they will. It’s a huge loss for artists under the label to be unable to promote their songs on TikTok. – K-Pop News Writer

Featured Image: The songs were removed because of payment issues. Sources: X/@tiktok_us, X/@UMG.