Taylor Swift Songs Back on TikTok Amid Label Feud

Earlier this year, there was a bit of a tiff, you could say. Universal Music Group (UMG) and its sibling, Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), decided to yank their tunes off TikTok. Why? Well, they were locking horns over licensing. This meant no Drake beats for your dance-offs, no Lana Del Rey for your moody clips, and no Ariana Grande for, well, anything on TikTok.

But then, plot twist! According to Variety, it looks like Taylor Swift, one of Universal’s crown jewels, managed to get her songs back on TikTok. How come? Todd Spangler and Jem Aswad from Variety are scratching their heads too. They’re thinking maybe, just maybe, Swift struck her own deal. After all, she owns her masters, right? So, she’s got the power to make her own moves, even though her tunes are distributed by UMG and the ban was supposed to affect all artists under similar contracts.

However, it seems likely that the platform reached a separate deal with Swift, who owns her masters and presumably would have the ability to strike her own arrangement, even though her music is distributed by UMG and the ban has extended to all artists with similar deals.

And, oh, Pitchfork is on the case too. They’ve been reaching out left and right – to Taylor Swift’s reps, to Universal Music Group, Universal Music Publishing Group, and even TikTok. They’re after the scoop, the whole story, the juicy details.

Now, let’s rewind a bit. Back in November 2018, Taylor Swift made a big announcement. She was signing a global recording agreement with Universal Music Group. Fast forward to February 2020, and she’s at it again, announcing an exclusive global publishing deal with Universal Music Publishing Group. Swift isn’t just making music; she’s making moves.

Since teaming up with UMG’s Republic Records, Swift has been on a roll. She’s dropped four brand-new studio albums, and guess what? She’s got another one, The Tortured Poets Department, dropping next week. And let’s not forget, she’s also been busy re-recording her old hits, taking back control of her masters. So far, she’s given us new versions of Fearless, Red, Speak Now, and 1989.

But back to the drama. UMG and UMPG’s licensing agreements with TikTok? They expired last winter. The day before the deadline, UMG’s big boss, Lucian Grainge, penned an open letter. He laid it all out – their three main beefs with TikTok: fair pay for artists and songwriters, protecting musicians from the dark side of AI, and keeping TikTok’s platform safe for users. His conclusion? TikTok’s trying to cash in on music without coughing up what it’s worth.

TikTok clapped back with an open letter of their own. They accused UMG of being greedy, putting money above the interests of artists and songwriters. They boasted about their “artist-first” deals with every other label and publisher. So, the saga continues, with both sides standing their ground.

Noah Mitchell
Noah Mitchell
Noah Mitchell is a senior music writer at SongsDetails.com. Noah has been passionately covering the music industry for over five years, with a particular focus on live performances and the latest updates on artists.