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SZA, Doja Cat songs now also being removed on TikTok

Grammy winner SZA performs onstage at Spotify's Night of Music party at Anaheim Convention Center on June 25, 2022. SZA's<em> Kill Bill </em>is among the new round of songs to be removed from TikTok.
Anna Webber
/
Getty Images for Spotify
Grammy winner SZA performs onstage at Spotify's Night of Music party at Anaheim Convention Center on June 25, 2022. SZA's Kill Bill is among the new round of songs to be removed from TikTok.

SZA's Kill Bill, Doja Cat's Paint the Town Red (Sped Up) and Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You are among the songs licensed by Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) that are now being removed from TikTok because of a licensing dispute.

In January, Universal Music Group (UMG) claimed that, among other things, TikTok was not paying or protecting its artists enough. Once the UMG/TikTok license agreement expired on Jan. 31, songs by artists including Taylor Swift, BTS, Billie Eilish, Adele and Bad Bunny were either removed or muted from videos. Now songs licensed by UMPG, Universal's publishing arm, will also be removed, which means many more songs are affected.

According to TikTok, "This means that all songs that have been written (or co-written) by a songwriter signed to Universal Music Publishing must be removed from TikTok, and all videos that feature these songs must be muted."

A spokesperson for TikTok said in an email that the combined UMG and UMPG's catalog "represents anywhere from 20-30% of popular songs on TikTok, depending on the territory."

A UMG spokesperson said the company will address the TikTok matter during its earnings call on Wednesday.

UMG called for a heated 'Time Out on TikTok'

In an open letter UMG published on Jan. 30., the company made it clear that earlier negotiations between the two media giants hadn't gone well: "TikTok proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay."

The letter said TikTok tried to "bully" the company into accepting a deal, claiming that TikTok is "allowing the platform to be flooded with AI-generated recordings."

TikTokers are upset, calling UMPG's actions a "mute-pocalypse." Some are posting instructions for how to use music from other sources to restore the sound affected by the licensing feud — though, as Fast Company notes, "This workaround violates the TikTok user agreement, giving the platform cause to deactivate their accounts."

This story was edited by Jennifer Vanasco.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.