Modified Audio Tracks Growing on TikTok After UMG/UMPG Row

Modified audio on TikTok report
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Modified audio on TikTok report
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Photo Credit: Ritupon Baishya

Modified audio is on the rise on social media platforms, with TikTok leading the pack. Pex examined which user-generated content (UGC) platforms hosted the most modified audio in 2023—diverting royalties from the proper channels.

Modified audio remixes are any effort to divert royalty payments away from rightsholders into the hands of other creators. The modified songs are not licensed and ownership information is applied to the modified track—meaning people who uploaded the content are getting paid instead of the rightsholders who actually own the song.

For this study, Pex indexed publicly available content on digital platforms, tracking a sample of known songs from over 20 platforms. Modified audio is defined as any audio where the speed or pitch was changed by at least 1%. Pex’s data for this study was collected from January 2023 to January 2024.

Over this 13-month period, Pex identified hundreds of millions of modified audio tracks—accounting for 19% of all identified content. Here’s a quick breakdown on how UGC uploads to social media are modifying audio to avoid systems like Content ID.

  • 18.9% of content had modified speed or pitch
  • 18.0% of content had modified speed
  • 11.4% of content had modified pitch
  • 10.5% of content had modified speed and pitch

Which platforms feature the most modified audio?

Platforms listed in green saw a reduction in modified audio on their UGC platforms from 2022 to 2023. Platforms in red saw growth in modified audio, while platforms in black have no data comparison for 2022.

1. SoundCloud60.87%55.47%
2. Mixcloud55.42%52.46%
3. Audiomack60.83%50.63%
4. AudiusN/A48.50%
5. LikeeN/A47.93%
6. TikTok24.55%38.03%
7. Lemon8N/A29.48%
8. DatPiff27.67%29.03%
9. Facebook19.70%14.67%
10. My Mixtapez13.80%14.11%
11. Twitch13.08%14.02%
12. YouTube19.04%13.52%
13. Instagram23.41%13.28%
14. Imgur11.73%12.13%
14. Twitter17.75%11.81%

The UGC platforms with the most modified audio in 2023 include SoundCloud (55.47%), MixCloud (52.46%), and Audiomack (50.63%). Meanwhile, emerging UGC content platforms like Audius (48.50%) and Likee (47.93%) have a staggering amount of modified audio, too. Those two platforms knock TikTok down the ranking, but TikTok is the platform with the biggest change in modified audio from 2022 to 2023.

Pex found modified audio existed on TikTok at a rate of 24.55% in 2022, while that number has grown to 38.03% in 2023. So while TikTok fell at #6 on the UGC platforms with the most modified audio—it was one of the few platforms to see an increase in 2023.

With the withdrawal of UMG and UMPG music from the platform in January 2024, my prediction is that modified audio on TikTok will accelerate this year.

Pex says songs with modified speed or pitch often don’t feature identifiers to label it, either. Key words like ‘sped up,’ ‘nightcore,’ ‘reverb’ and other speed or pitch related keywords were only identified in 0.16% of content. Pex used its content identification technology to analyze the audio itself to determine whether speed or pitch were changed.