Taylor Swift songs return to TikTok after being yanked because of licensing spat

Taylor Swift’s tunes were back on TikTok after a 10-week hiatus amid a licensing spat between the Chinese-owned video-sharing app and the pop superstar’s record label Universal Music, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

Fans of the “You Belong With Me,” “Lover,” and “Cruel Summer” singer were able to upload her hits in their videos for the first time since Jan. 31.

Swift’s return to TikTok had been in the works for some time, FT added, citing people familiar with the matter — and comes ahead of the April 19 release of her next studio album, “The Tortured Poets Department.”

The pop superstar owns the copyrights to her recordings through a 2018 deal struck with Universal that lets her control where her work is made available, unlike many other artists, the report said.

TikTok, Universal Music and representatives for Taylor Swift did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

Taylor Swift’s music has reemerged on TikTok, despite a bitter battle between the musician’s record label and the app. AFP via Getty Images

Swift’s tracks had been pulled from TikTok in February after the app and UMG — which owns the rights to music from superstars including Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Billie Eilish and Drake —failed to renew a licencing deal that expired at the end of January.

At the time, Universal Music accused TikTok of trying to “bully” the world’s largest music company into a deal worth less than their prior pact— and allegedly TikTok was not willing to address artificial intelligence and piracy concerns.

TikTok countered that Universal was engaging in “false narrative and rhetoric.”

TikTok pulled the music of UMG artists in February amid a spat with Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company.

Variety reported that it is possible that Swift partnered with TikTok to promote the upcoming release of “The Tortured Poets Department,” as she did for her last album of all-new material, “Midnights.” 

For that album, the “Shake it off” singer supplied a track reveal video for every track on the album, exclusively to the platform. This could potentially signal that an exception was made for Swift, with UMG’s OK, Variety said.

Universal Music Group accused TikTok of not offering enough AI protections and low royalty payments to its artists. AFP via Getty Images

While artists generally side with UMG when it comes to low royalty payments from TikTok and inadequate protection against AI, they also see the power of the app.

Over the past five years, TikTok has emerged as the one of the most powerful platforms for discovering and promoting music.

Swift signed an exclusive deal with Universal Music Publishing Group, UMG’s parent, in 2020 after starting her career with Sony/ATV.

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