There are quite a few TikTok accounts scrambling due to the removal of all Universal Music from the sound library. Those impacted accounts will have the audio removed from their content (sometimes going years back) and have a message labeling the sound as not being available. This can be a crushing blow to TikTok accounts that have relied heavily on trending sounds that feature popular music.

While this is disappointing, it offers an opportunity to reiterate something we’ve been talking to our clients about quite a bit. Skip the trending sounds and lean into the human voice and environmental sounds. Not only can you insulate you from issues like this Universal Music removal, but you will also make more compelling content with much more context. The human voice can add much more context as to what the viewer is seeing. Similarly, environmental sounds can give a glimpse of what an experience would actually be like. Admittedly, this can add another step to your content creation process, but at the end of the day, you’re positioning yourself for long-term success and overall better content that engages and informs.

Universal Music removing their sounds from TikTok could be just the tip of the iceberg regarding music licensing in the future on social media apps. This issue with trending sounds can cause all kinds of future headaches. Are you sure that TikTok sounds are also approved on Reels? Are you sure that you can freely use a song from one network to another? In the past, we’ve dealt with copyright issues on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram when it comes to crowdsourced images and videos. These can sometimes come with significant payouts. I sense that there is going to be a period coming soon where music and sound licensing experience a similar opportunity for litigations.

Let’s face it, using trending sounds or generic music beds can be a bit of a lazy move. We should be putting just as much time into the audio portions of our content as we do the visuals. Don’t cut a corner on these aspects. Remember, that users only remember 30% of that they see. They only remember 20% of what they hear. They remember 70% of what they see and hear. These trending sounds likely aren’t helping you that much anyway. They are in a sense, generic. Take the time to develop both aspects of your content to not only insulate yourself from issues like what is going on with Universal Music, but also to ensure that you’re delivering the very best content that you can by taking more control of the final output.