Taylor Swift’s music is back on TikTok

Taylor Swift’s music is back on TikTok

Taylor Swift’s catalog of music has returned to TikTok, just a few months after it was purged alongside other popular artists represented by Universal Music Group (UMG).

In January, UMG and TikTok’s licensing deal expired, and the companies took turns blaming each other for why fans would no longer be able to use UMG artists’ music on the app. UMG argued that TikTok wasn’t willing to pay what it wanted and that allowing AI-generated content on the app was “sponsoring artist replacement” by the technology. Meanwhile, TikTok said UMG was being greedy and that it was able to come to agreements with every other label and publisher.

It’s not immediately clear how Swift’s music has made its way back to TikTok — as Variety noted, Swift may have struck a separate deal with TikTok, as she owns her masters. UMG and TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

After UMG artists were pulled from TikTok, countless videos using affected songs suddenly went silent as music was removed. Viral dances took on the quality of energetic mimes. Narration over songs disappeared. Even artists themselves have had to make do with fan-uploaded audio clips that are sped up to 2x in order to promote their work on TikTok. (Here’s UMG artist Olivia Rodrigo using the audio track from a fan edit to announce a deluxe edition of her recent album.)

And who can blame them? In recent years, TikTok has emerged as perhaps the most influential music discovery platform, catapulting indie artists to stardom and further elevating even the most famous musicians in the world. But artists have also reported dismal royalty payments from the platform, and sudden, explosive success has a way of dying down after a while.

Whatever roundabout way Swift’s music ended up back on TikTok, I can’t say I’m surprised. The platform is almost its own ecosystem within the Taylor Swift fan universe, a place where concerts are livestreamed, fan theories are exchanged, and viral trends beget mountains of content.

The timing is obvious: her new album, The Tortured Poets Department, is coming next week, and it isn’t going to promote itself.