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How TikTok is Affecting the Music Industry

TikTok has removed music from high-profile musicians including Olivia Rodrigo, following a licensing agreement falling out between the social media platform and record label Universal Music Group.

Outwardly, this was due to financial reasons, namely a lack of agreement on deal value, but the fact that TikTok is so powerful in the music industry could be a factor that no one is discussing. Some artists who blew up on TikTok, such as Noah Kahan, have also recently expressed a lack of willingness to promote their new music on the platform. It is important that these artist’s concerns are listened to by social media platforms and not ignored.

The financial element has shades of Spotify and Apple, platforms that have historically underpaid artists or not paid them at all during a new subscriber’s free trial, in Apple’s case. Before powerful artists such as Taylor Swift came out and spoke against it, they were exploiting artists by encouraging them to put their music on a platform, which is essential in terms of exposure but won’t pay them much and is not enough to earn a living. This has improved but the tide is only swimming one way.

Aside from this, what makes the TikTok story interesting is the cultural phenomenon created by it in the music industry. Take ‘Lovin’ on Me’ by Jack Harlow. Although he is already an established artist, the song blew up due to a TikTok trend and went to number one in many countries. With many high-profile artists involved in the licensing dispute, could this encourage other artists to also remove their music from the platform, or would the risk be seen as too big, given the potential exposure it could create for them?

The rise in AI has also had an impact on the platform because artists’ work can be plagiarised by artificial software, where a song is altered and made to sound like real artists but somehow goes viral because it hits a certain TikTok trend. This may also put labels off from offering their clients’ music to the platform. 

In recent years, the music industry has had to grapple with the effect of streaming services. Many artists now rely on social media now to promote themselves due to tight budgets and an abundance of talent on the streaming platforms.

Edited by Josh Reidelbach


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