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Taylor Swift’s songs are back on TikTok amid dispute between the platform and her record label

The pop star’s catalog and other songs from Universal Music Group were largely removed from TikTok in February.
/ Source: TODAY

Taylor Swift’s songs have returned to TikTok ahead of the release of her upcoming album, “The Tortured Poets Department.”

On April 11, TikTok users regained access to some of Swift’s tracks about two months after Variety reported that the music catalog of Universal Music Group, which owns Swift's record label, Republic Records, was being removed from the social media platform due to royalty issues. 

Swifties are now able to add some of the pop superstar’s hit songs, like “Cruel Summer,” “Cardigan” and “Is It Over Now? (Taylor’s Version),” to their videos as they anticipate the arrival of the pop icon’s 11th studio album, which will be available on April 19. 

Other UMG songs are still unable for use on TikTok, and it's unclear why Swift's catalog was added back. TODAY.com has reached out to UMG and Swift for comment. 

Read on to learn more about the recent dispute between TikTok and UMG — whose artists also include Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, Alicia Keys, Kendrick Lamar, Adele, Justin Bieber and Harry Styles — that caused Swift’s songs to temporarily disappear from the website. 

Why were Taylor Swift’s songs removed from TikTok? 

Variety first reported in January that Universal Music Group — Swift’s music label since she left Big Machine Records and signed with Republic Records in 2018 — could not agree with TikTok on a new deal involving compensation and AI issues. So, UMG announced that it planned to let its agreement with the social media platform expire on Jan. 31.

“The companies have not agreed to terms for a new agreement and upon expiration of the current agreement, Universal Music Group, including Universal Music Publishing Group, will cease licensing content to TikTok and TikTok Music services,” UMG said in a statement to the publication at the time. 

The record company also posted an open letter to all artists and songwriters further explaining why the two parties could not come to an agreement. 

“TikTok proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay,” UMG said in the letter, dated Jan. 30.

TikTok sent a response to Variety that said, in part, “It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters. Despite Universal’s false narrative and rhetoric, the fact is they have chosen to walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent.”

The company added, “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.”

When were Taylor Swift’s songs removed from TikTok?

About a month after tensions between TikTok and UMG boiled over, Variety confirmed that songs by the label’s artists were missing and a new deal had not been signed. 

In an article on Feb. 27, Variety revealed that more tracks, including all songs published, owned and distributed by the record label, were no longer available on the platform. 

The removal also affected artists who had collaborations with UMG-contracted songwriters, according to the outlet. 

Why are some UMG tracks still on TikTok after the dispute?

Although most of the UMG songs were muted when TikTok users tried to play them, some songs by Swift and other artists like Grande and Niall Horan still popped up on the website. 

As Variety explained, users have uploaded unofficial versions by some UMG artists that they labeled as “original” sounds. The loophole was similar to how YouTube has multiple unofficial tracks uploaded to unverified channels. 

However, as is the case with YouTube and other social media platforms, the uploads can be flagged and users could receive messages alerting them to take down the posts. 

Will ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ be on TikTok?

Swift is currently preparing to release “The Tortured Poets Department,” which features multiple versions and exclusive bonus tracks

With the agreement between TikTok and UMG still unsettled, it is unclear if Swifties will get to upload videos using Swift’s new songs. 

But, “The Tortured Poets Department” will be available to stream on other platforms and is currently available for pre-order in vinyl, cassette tape, CD and digital versions. 

Swift first announced her new album onstage at the Grammys on Feb. 4 and later shared the black-and-white album cover on Instagram.

“All’s fair in love and poetry…” she said in the caption. 

She also revealed the track list which includes 16 songs, excluding the bonus tracks.