TikTok is removing even more songs as music rights battle drags on

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Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

TikTok is now taking down all the songs written or co-written by artists signed to Universal Music Group (UMG) as the platform’s battle over music rights drags on.

“We are in the process of carrying out Universal Music Group’s requirement to remove all songs that have been written (or co-written) by a songwriter signed to Universal Music Publishing Group, based on information they have provided,” TikTok writes in a statement on its website. “Their actions not only affect the songwriters and artists that they represent, but now also impact many artists and songwriters not signed to Universal.”

On Tuesday, Variety reported that TikTok was set to lose even more UMG songs, but it wasn’t clear how many would be affected. This will also impact artists who aren’t signed to UMG but have publishing deals with the label, including Harry Styles, Steve Lacy, and SZA, according to a report from Rolling Stone.

In early February, TikTok began removing songs from UMG’s most popular artists, including Taylor Swift, Drake, and Olivia Rodrigo, after the two companies failed to renew their music licensing agreement. UMG claims TikTok tried to “bully” it into reaching an unfair deal that didn’t address the label’s concerns about AI-generated music and artist compensation. The fallout has left many TikTok videos with UMG songs silent.

“We remain committed to reaching an equitable agreement with Universal Music Group,” TikTok says. “In the meantime, music lovers can continue to enjoy, discover and share millions of tracks from artists, songwriters and labels on TikTok, and we will continue to connect all artists including those whose music is not currently available on our platform – with their fans.”

As TikTok creators struggle without access to songs from their favorite artists, YouTube is attempting to court shortform video makers with a new music video remix feature it launched earlier this month, which features songs from UMG’s catalog.