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TikTok users lose access to Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish songs


TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration, August 22, 2022. /Reuters
TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration, August 22, 2022. /Reuters

TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration, August 22, 2022. /Reuters

TikTok users will no longer be able to create videos with songs from Taylor Swift, Jon Batiste, boygenius and other Universal Music Group artists as the soundtrack, as contract negotiations between the two companies have collapsed.

TikTok's access to Universal's expansive roster of artists ended Wednesday, after months of negotiations failed to yield a new agreement with the world's largest music company. TikTok has begun muting short videos featuring the label's artists.

The high-profile dispute erupted as the music industry executives and artists gathered in Los Angeles for Sunday's Grammy award ceremony.

The label is asking TikTok to compensate artists a rate commensurate with what other social media platforms pay. Now, it accounts for only 1 percent of total revenue – though music is a core part of the experience on the app, Universal Music said in an open letter published Tuesday.

Universal Music also said TikTok is allowing the platform to be "flooded" with recordings generated by artificial intelligence, which dilutes the royalty pool for artists. It also raised concerns about "problematic content," such as sexualized images of Billie Eilish, which reportedly went viral and were seen by millions of people before being removed for violating community guidelines.

TikTok declined comment Thursday.

In an earlier statement, TikTok said Universal Music put "greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters." The social video platform said the music label is walking away from its powerful promotional platform that reaches more than a billion users.

On Thursday, Taylor Swift's TikTok account, which has 23.9 million followers, displayed a notice that said "The music is currently unavailable." The alert appeared under a tab that previously let users browse Swift's songs.

(With input from Reuters)

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