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TikTok Talks Back: SAU Students Are On Their Side

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On February 1, TikTok videos with popular artists such as Taylor Swift, Drake, and Ariana Grande, began to go silent, as their music was no longer available.

The New York Times reports, “Universal, the largest of the three major record companies, published a fiery opening letter accusing TikTok of offering unsatisfactory payment for music, and of allowing its platform to be flooded with A.I.-generated recordings, that diluted the royalty pool for real, human musicians.” 

All recordings from Universal artists were removed from TikTok.

According to, TikTok accused the music company saying that Universal is putting “their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.” TikTok is free promotion and discovery for artists who aren’t on the Taylor Swift and Drake scale yet, and they can release songs and snippets of songs for the TikTok community to view and share. 

SAU junior, Adam Burgurt reacted, “I found out about Steve Lacy from TikTok before he became who he is now. This shows the effect TikTok has on small artists who use TikTok to get their name out there.” 

SAU senior, Elijah Campos says, “I have discovered a lot of new songs and new artists from TikTok. Universal is one of the largest music companies in the world with tons of artists trying to make a name for themselves. TikTok is offering a free outlet for their artists to show the world who they are and what music they produce, Universal is only hurting their own artists that they manage.” 

SAU junior, Isiah Borgos agrees, “I feel like this is very selfish of Universal Music Group. They are a top producing company and they know the impact TikTok has on their smaller artists who don’t get as much attention as the top dogs. I understand they may not be getting what they want from the contract, but rather than declining to renew the licensing deal, you could at least delay the renewal until the two companies come up with an agreement. Right now, all they’re doing is hurting their small artists’ future and limiting their potential by not letting them use one of the most popular apps in the world to shop off their work.” also reports, “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.” states, “It sarcastically captured a frustrating reality of lesser-known artists: They often don’t get funding or attention from their labels until a song really blows up on social media.” 

Artists like Taylor Swift don’t need to do much to get people to listen to her music. She might make a post or tweet letting people know when she is releasing an album, and she’ll get millions or billions of streams for her new music. But the smaller artists, who have been using TikTok as a way of letting people know who they are, will have to find a new way to try and convince people that they are worth the time to listen to each new song.