The app originally known as Musical.ly and known for viral musical dancing clips is, ironically, losing a lot of music and going to lose more.

According to the Wall Street Journal; “Since Universal’s music was taken down, TikTok has encouraged creators to post more photo content by suggesting they will get more likes and comments if they do. “Photo posts get 1.9x more likes and 2.9x more comments on average than videos,” said one notification sent to creators Feb. 12 and viewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

The UMG fight is now spreading to Universal’s music-publishing catalog, which means songs by artists who record for other labels but are written — even in part — by Universal’s songwriters can disappear as well.

It’s a fight that could last for some time. So TikTok appears to be telling creators, not subtly, they ought to spend more time making photo slideshows and less time worrying about videos.

As a result, the app is trying its hardest to push photos instead. How productive this alternative is just isn’t clear. 

This is a reminder that TikTok, like all big platforms, can push and pull users to make certain kinds of content using different carrots and sticks. See: horizontal videos and shopping videos. So, if it really wants to encourage more photo slideshows, it can definitely do that. 

While more photo posts are being pushed out, I have no idea whether they’ve spiked in popularity. But I also know that many of those posts also have music. So I wonder whether they’ll be less interesting to creators if they can’t use the music they want as a score behind them.

To conclude, many are arguing that indie artists won’t be affected by this fight but, as an indie artist myself, I would beg to differ. UMG’s decision means that TikTok decreases its music focus as a music focused app. The less the big players post about music, the less users will discover music from all avenues – and that includes us independent artists. 

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