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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The TikTok UMG Music Ban is harming more than just the audios on TikTok

TikTok and Universal Music Group
TikTok and Universal Music Group’s dispute over their contract renewal terms have led to a plethora of undesirable consequences.

Recently, a huge upset in the world of social media arose as TikTok and Universal Music Group (UMG) failed to renew a contract that affected over one billion users. 

For those who aren’t familiar with the situation, on Jan. 31, UMG began the complete removal of their artists’ music from the popular video platform, TikTok. For many, this sudden event was not only unexpected but also shocking, resulting in massive displeasure throughout the app.

Almost overnight, TikTok users were hit with the reality of muted videos, less diverse music options, and “Fluffing A Duck,” the sound that quickly replaced deleted UMG audios. Soon enough, there was outrage, and what has been named the “TikTok UMG Music Ban” took over the internet.

While many people recognize the inconvenience of the music ban, I quickly noticed that many individuals were focused on the idea that UMG had ruined TikTok. But, there’s more to the situation than UMG simply removing its artists’ music.

On Jan. 30, UMG wrote about its decision to not renew its contract. It explained that TikTok refused to meet UMG’s requests to support its music artists—requests that include AI protection, proper payout, and stricter policies regarding user safety and harassment.

It explained that TikTok refused to meet UMG’s requests to support its music artists—requests that include AI protection, proper payout, and stricter policies regarding user safety and harassment.

While UMG claimed that its other platform partners were able to proactively discuss these issues, in its disclosure, UMG wrote, “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,” revealing the nature of the discussions between UMG and TikTok. 

UMG consistently holds its stance throughout their writing; it will not sign another contract with TikTok unless the platform creates an agreement that both parties find acceptable.

UMG emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for those who have entrusted their music to the music group. It writes, “We have an overriding responsibility to our artists to fight for a new agreement under which they are appropriately compensated for their work, on a platform that respects human creativity, in an environment that is safe for all, and effectively moderated.”

In response, TikTok released a small rebuttal in which it referred to UMG as “self-serving” and greedy.

While there is no way of knowing what truly went on behind closed doors, UMG’s response is more professional and more empathetic towards its artists while TikTok emphasizes its own power. Still, TikTok stated that UMG’s decision was “above the interests of their artists and songwriters,” which left me curious to research the idea a little more.

Some artists do show worry about the situation. Noah Kahan ironically posted a TikTok on the situation saying, “I won’t be able to promote my music on TikTok anymore. But, luckily I’m not a TikTok artist, right?” Out of context, this commentary may seem positive, but with the knowledge that Noah is indeed a TikTok artist, users may recognize the anxieties of the situation.

Other artists seem to share this irritation. Yungblud, who also posted a TikTok about the ban, states, “Two massive companies deciding what goes on with people’s art; it’s a bit daft, isn’t it?” though he adds, “I think it’s going to be cool, what might come, you know what I mean? When people could just focus on pure expression and not some algorithm.”

While Noah Kahan and Yungblud are only two of many affected artists on the platform, their opinions reflect the aspects of what other artists may be feeling at this time. Unfortunately, that implies that while UMG may seem to have good intentions, its decisions may be harming artists more than helping them. 

Whether UMG and TikTok eventually compromise or not, it is imperative that everyone is reminded of the importance of supporting music artists during this time. Yes, TikTok videos may be less entertaining right now—but some artists, especially smaller ones, have lost their main platform for publicity, which means they won’t be making as much money.

So, be sure to stream music on Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and other audio platforms so that music artists aren’t being harmed in the process, and hopefully, this TikTok UMG Music Ban will be resolved quickly.

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About the Contributor
Emalea Rooke
Emalea Rooke, Staff Writer
Emalea Rooke is a senior entering her first year on The Central Trend. Since she was little, Emalea has always had a passion for bringing her imagination to life with creative writing, and she is excited to expand her writing skills this year. Other than writing, Emalea enjoys reading, drawing, and spending time with friends. She is the head of costumes for FHC Theatre this year and hopes to use the knowledge she gains in college for Fashion Design. Favorite Song: "Banana Pancakes" by Jack Johnson Favorite Video Game: Red Dead Redemption Favorite Flower: Carnations Favorite Accessory: Her sun-shaped nazar necklace

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