Taylor Swift’s Music is Back on TikTok Despite Dispute With UMG

By Editorial Staff

Earlier this year, TikTok removed songs written or co-written by Universal Music Group (UMG) artists after the two parties failed to reach a new agreement on music distribution. This decision impacted future TikTok dance trends and community members who frequently participated in viral dance routines. Thankfully for Swifties, Taylor Swift’s music on TikTok is back! 

Why TikTok is Perfect for Songwriters, Producers, and Choreographers

TikTok is a well-established hotbed for trend-seeker activity, especially for choreographers, dancers, songwriters, and music influencers. In a sense, TikTok’s algorithm shaped the music industry and music marketing practices by giving all artists a shot to go viral.

In 2020, Doja Cat’s career exploded from overnight success Say So. While most creators cooped up during the pandemic, dance influencers like Haley Sharpe got to work. Sharpe’s routine got picked up by Doja Cat where she performed her dance in Say So’s music video. From there, Sharpe and Doja’s trend reached TikTok superstars like Charli D’Amelio and James Charles. 


guys! guess where you’ll be seeing me tomorrow! tune in to @dojacat’s youtube channel at 10am ET tomorrow to watch the premiere of say so! 🥰

♬ Say So – Doja Cat

For Lil Nas X, the rapper promoted Old Town Road for months until it caught traction on TikTok and the song skyrocketed to #1 on the Hot 100 Billboard. Lil Nas said “TikTok helped me change my life,” and brought life and humor into his songs. These once-in-a-lifetime opportunities brought success for all participating parties, making TikTok a place where artists connect.

Additionally, TikTok culture loves remixed songs and duets with other creators. Remixed songs and fan interactions allowed songs like Escapism by RAYE to reach #1 on the UK charts for two months and #22 on the US Billboard Hot 100. 

How Much Money Can Songwriters Make? 

Kickstarting a career from TikTok is a songwriter’s dream come true, but how much money do creators make from royalties? 

Sound Campaign reported that TikTok typically pays three cents for each video that uses an artist’s song, however, precise estimates vary. The criteria for royalties compels producers to create music for audience engagement; these circumstances make for more authentic experiences through music.

However, as an underground artist, TikTok royalties are an inefficient way to gain money, but with enough marketing and creator growth, licensing, and record label agreements can exponentially increase revenue.

What Happened With TikTok and UMG?

2024 kicked off with disputes over royalties between UMG artists and songs. After the former agreement expired, UMG produced and licensed songs, remixes, and collabs were taken. This dispute led to the removal of Taylor Swift music on TikTok.

Lucian Grainge, UMG Chairman-CEO, clarified that the agreement aimed to address artist compensations, protect creators from harmful AI, and ensure crucial online safety for users.

UMG said that TikTok was trying to build a music business without fairly compensating artists, claiming that TikTok undercut songwriter and artist compensation to a fraction of what other major social platforms pay. The letter noted that “TikTok accounts for 1% of the company’s total revenue.” 

As a result of UMG’s open letter, TikTok responded to their discontent with UMG’s greed above their creators. TikTok said the company agreed on “artist-first” agreements with other publishers and labels and claimed that UMG was creating “false narrative[s] and rhetoric.”

Taylor Swift Music on TikTok Returns

After UMG and TikTok’s tension festered, Taylor Swift’s music suddenly returned on April 11th. As a UMG artist, Taylor Swift’s music returning to TikTok felt out-of-the-ordinary. However, the timing couldn’t have been better – her next studio album, The Tortured Poets Department, released a week later.

TikTok partnered with Swift to promote “first-of-its-kind” features from exclusive artwork on user profiles to Swiftie Spotlight carousel opportunities for challenge participants. This partnership implies that Swift and TikTok created a personal arrangement that overrules TikTok and UMG’s dispute. 


try not to take lyrics of of context challenge !!!!!!! #taylorswift #ttpd #THETORTUREDPOETSDEPARTMENT

♬ original sound – Jake Deyton

Can Other UMG Artists Make Separate Deals Like Swift?

Does the return of Taylor Swift music on TikTok mean other artists can work around these unresolved disputes? We’re unsure. 

As we discussed earlier, creators have proliferated through TikTok’s discovery tool, leaving those trying to market their names unable to do so. Because of this, UMG artists are upset that Swift can reap the benefits of TikTok’s fan interactions and promotions. 

According to Billboard, a lawyer stated that smaller artists cannot promote their songs on the app, making growth increasingly difficult for UMG and startup artists. Taylor Swift’s music on TikTok stands as a testament to her influence in the music industry, but how can TikTok and UMG level out the playing field for all artists? 

The Aftermath of UMG and TikTok on Artists

Recently, music influencers expressed their distaste for UMG’s control over popular songs. TikToker Jermaine, also known as the “CEO of music and audio knowledge,” said he can’t upload and monetize his videos because of the dispute. As a result, Jermaine is experimenting with other platforms and promoting indie artists to keep himself afloat.


Who did “Jolene” the best? Dolly Parton original, Miley Cyrus or Beyoncé? #dollyparton #mileycyrus #beyonce #beyoncé #jolene #cover #coversong

♬ Jolene – Dolly Parton

Grace Gardner, another artist, said the dispute is making it harder for her to promote herself on TikTok. Gardner told Marketing Brew that she planned to release her EP in January until the dispute halted her promotional campaigns. She posted sped-up and slowed-down versions of her songs and confessed to feeling “slighted and weird about it” because of the diminished quality of her work.

The Takeaways

While both TikTok and UMG remain steadfast in their positions amidst the dispute, music influencers are uncertain about the future of their TikTok careers. While it is great to see Taylor Swift’s music on TikTok again, other artists are slightly envious of her power to bypass these restrictions. 

Hopefully, we can anticipate greater flexibility for up-and-coming artists seeking promotional opportunities on the platform. TikTok has always been an ideal space for artists to launch their careers through viral trends and challenges, and it would be a shame to see that go away.

This article was written by Brianna Borik

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