What The Removal of UMG Music From TikTok Means For Marketers

Ronn Torossian
3 min readFeb 19, 2024

The music industry just hit a sour note. On January 31st, 2024, Universal Music Group (UMG), the music behemoth, silenced its entire library on TikTok, the viral video platform beloved by Gen Z. This unprecedented move sent shockwaves through the marketing world, leaving brands and creators scrambling to understand its potential impact.

UMG and TikTok marketing

First, it’s important to rewind and unpack what happened before anyone starts to panic. The conflict boils down to a tug-of-war over value and control. UMG claims TikTok’s royalty rates are stingy, leaving artists and songwriters feeling underpaid.

They also worry about AI-generated music diluting artist earnings and creative control, while online safety concerns add another layer of friction. TikTok, on the other hand, insists they offer fair deals and prioritize artists, accusing UMG of putting the artists above the creators on the platform.

Now with that development, marketers were left scratching their heads, wondering what this means for their TikTok marketing campaigns. The fallout from this situation is multifaceted.

Brand marketing

Gone are the days of seamlessly weaving popular UMG tracks into TikTok marketing campaigns. This limited music selection could force companies to rethink their creative strategies and even explore alternative platforms like Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts. Remember, the key for companies is keeping pace with evolving audience preferences.

Music marketing

UMG artists face a silent stage on TikTok, potentially impacting album launches, single releases, and overall TikTok marketing efforts. Expect them to amplify their presence on other platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, potentially leading to some fierce competition for audience attention.

Meanwhile, independent artists, as well as those that aren’t under the UMG umbrella could see their numbers start soaring during this quiet time. Maybe the artists under UMG are going to start considering live events and merchandise to connect with fans in a more direct fashion.

Social media shifts

With UMG music missing, TikTok might lose some of its charm for users, impacting overall engagement and growth. Trends and challenges will likely evolve, so be prepared to adapt the social media strategies accordingly. This might be the perfect opportunity for alternative music providers to shine.

Diversifying the tunes

Don’t put all the musical eggs in one basket. Explore licensing deals with other labels and music providers to keep the TikTok marketing strategy and campaign playlists fresh and appealing.

Exploring new stages

Don’t be afraid to experiment with platforms like Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, and Spotify to tap into diverse audiences. Remember, adaptation is key in the ever-changing digital landscape.

Seeking out hidden gems

Utilize platform-specific music discovery tools to unearth talented lesser-known artists who resonate with the target demographics. It’s time for brands to think outside the mainstream box.

Partnering with powerhouses

Influencer marketing can still thrive. Collaborate with creators who can captivate audiences with their unique styles and content, even without relying solely on trending hits.

Embracing innovation

Experiment with new formats like live streams, interactive experiences, and AR/VR integrations. Who knows, a company might create the next viral sensation.

Staying in the know

Brands still need to keep their ears to the ground. Follow the developments in the UMG-TikTok saga and broader music industry trends to adapt the changing strategies more effectively.

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Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is Chairman & Founder of 5WPR, one of America’s leading & largest PR Agencies and the Author of the best-selling PR book: "For Immediate Release"