Drake & Kendrick Lamar Facing TikTok Removal Over UMG Dispute

Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj and more could see their music removed from TikTok over the social media network’s dispute with Universal Music Group.

The two companies have failed to agree a new deal relating to artist compensation and artificial intelligence, which means the music giant could no longer license music to the app.

The deal is set to expire at midnight on Wednesday (January 31) and terms on a new contract have not yet been agreed, with UMG saying they will cease to provide music to TikTok after this deadline.

Universal Music Group are one of the biggest record companies in the world with several major labels under its umbrella including Interscope, Republic and Def Jam.

As a result, the dispute will affect numerous A-list artists including Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Eminem, SZA, The Weeknd and Post Malone.

UMG penned a furious open letter aimed at TikTok which they shared online on Tuesday (January 30).

The conglomerate alleged that the social media platform accounts for “only about 1% of our total revenue”, which they said was evidence of “how little TikTok compensates artists and songwriters, despite its massive and growing user base, rapidly rising advertising revenue and increasing reliance on music-based content”.

UMG also accused TikTok of trying to “intimidate” them by “selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artists” but keeping songs from better-known musicians.

The letter also said: “TikTok’s tactics are obvious: use its platform power to hurt vulnerable artists and try to intimidate us into conceding to a bad deal that undervalues music and shortchanges artists and songwriters as well as their fans.”

TikTok replied to the open letter with a furious statement of their own.

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“It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters,” the app wrote. Despite Universal’s false narrative and rhetoric, the fact is they have chosen to walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent.

“TikTok has been able to reach ‘artist-first’ agreements with every other label and publisher. Clearly, Universal’s self-serving actions are not in the best interests of artists, songwriters and fans.”

Russ, an outspoken critic of the major label system, commented on the dispute and criticized Universal.

He wrote on X: “They say it’s because ‘our songwriters and artists aren’t being compensated fairly’ when really it’s their own pockets they’re worried about. Curious if UMG asked the artists if they agree with this decision to remove their music from the the most influential platform for music.

“Also like I said earlier, a label stomping its feet because they’re not being compensated ‘fairly’ for the music they own is hilarious.”


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