design agency dundee scotlandwebsite design scotland agencybrand designer dundee scotland


Why is TikTok Muting Videos?

Why is TikTok Muting Videos?

Universal vs TikTok


TikTok is one of the most used social media platforms by the public and companies. It’s become an easy way for people to advertise their businesses or products but it’s facing a massive loss.

Universal Music Group (UMG) is not renewing their licensing contract with TikTok meaning all its music is being pulled from the platform and videos that contain any UMG music are muted. This is noticeable because they are one of the largest music companies in the world with big names signed such as Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, BTS, Lana Del Rey and many more.

Why did Universal not renew their contract?

UMG and TikTok’s licensing agreement was ending on the 31st of January 2024, but they were in discussions of renewing it. The music corporation went into the meeting with 3 issues they wanted to resolve before renewing the contract. Their demands consisted of appropriate compensation for their artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI and online safety for TikTok’s users.

TikTok’s user base and advertising is constantly growing, relying on the music-based videos it’s so popular for. However, UMG’s revenue from TikTok is only 1% of their total revenue.

“Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music.” – UMG Statement, 31st January 2024

Why is AI an issue?

AI: TikTok has seen a trend of people making AI art or AI song covers. These become big trends in which the platform allows people to keep these videos up and even make filters that can make the feature more accessible to users. Because some songs are being generated on TikTok they can demand contractual rights to the songs, which makes the royalty pool for human artists smaller. UMG even refers to it as “a move that is nothing short of sponsoring artist replacement by AI.”.

Harmful Effects of AI: There’s been a rise in AI-generated images of artists in a pornographic manner and deepfakes. These are harmful to the artist and can also incite hateful comments. Getting this behaviour reported is a long process that can take a while and even then it’s already been posted online and seen by thousands of users.

Universal Music Group are making a point to stand up for their artists and songwriters to make sure they are paid appropriately while taking a stance against AI music.

TikToks side

Compared to UMG’s lengthy statement, TikTok released a short three-paragraph statement which showed how they felt about UMG and the lost contract.

They expressed their sadness and how disappointed they are in UMG to “put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.”. They refer to UMG’s side of things as a “false narrative”.  They express how they have over a billion users so it serves as a great way to promote. Their final sentence really cements how they feel about this choice from UMG:

“Clearly, Universal’s self-serving actions are not in the best interests of artists, songwriters and fans.”

The fallout

All UMG music will be removed from TikTok. Any videos with UMG music on them will be muted, but you can replace it with another audio. Users on TikTok are now using this to their advantage to cover the popular songs funnily and smaller artists are using it as a way to get their music out there.

Music is very popular in the edits portion of the app. The ‘edits’ hashtag has 122.1 million posts. The users who base their accounts on making these videos have resorted to using Wii music or elevator music to replace lost sounds until they find a good song to replace it.

It looks like UMG will continue to stand up for their artists and seek fair compensation, but TikTok users are already adapting to the change.