Spotify Officially Explains Why Hundreds Of K-Pop Releases Were Removed From Platform Worldwide
Spotify has made an official statement addressing why hundreds of K-pop releases were suddenly removed from its catalogue.
On March 1 KST, Spotify users around the globe noticed that many K-pop songs were no longer available on the platform. Some artists’ entire discographies disappeared without warning, while others saw some of their songs remain.
Later that morning, Spotify officially announced that its licensing agreement with Korean music distributor Kakao M had expired, meaning that all music distributed by the label would no longer be available on the service.
A spokesperson for Spotify explained, “Due to the expiration of our original licensing agreement with Kakao M on March 1, 2021, we are no longer able to provide its catalogue to fans and listeners all over the world.”
“We have been making efforts in all directions over the past year and a half to renew the global licensing agreement so that we could continue to make Kakao M artists’ music available to fans all over the world, as well as our 345 million users in 170 different regions,” they continued. “However, in spite of this, we were unable to reach an agreement about renewing our global license.”
Spotify went on to clarify speculation that the expiration of its licensing agreement with Kakao M had anything to do with the recent launch of its service in South Korea, which put Spotify in direct competition with Kakao M’s own streaming service Melon.
The company’s spokesperson stated, “The matter of our global licensing agreement is unrelated to the launch of our service in South Korea.”
“We feel that this situation is deeply unfortunate for many artists, as well as fans and listeners all over the world, and we sincerely hope that we will be able to quickly resolve the current situation,” they continued. “We will continue to do our utmost so that we can keep working with Korean rights holders, including Kakao M, and help both the Korean music market and overall streaming ecosystem grow together.”
As Kakao M distributes a large share of Korean music—for reference, 37.5 percent of Gaon Chart’s year-end Top 400 Songs chart from 2020 were Kakao M releases—the loss of the catalogue is a considerable blow to Spotify and K-pop fans who use the service.
Among the artists whose discographies have been at least partially affected are IU, SEVENTEEN, NU’EST, MAMAMOO, Epik High, CL, GFRIEND, MONSTA X, Apink, THE BOYZ, Sunmi, (G)I-DLE, LOONA, SF9, HyunA, 4Minute, VIXX, INFINITE, Dreamcatcher, MOMOLAND, ASTRO, Zico, Block B, BEAST, Jessi, WJSN, AOA, BTOB, Golden Child, VICTON, Lovelyz, PENTAGON, ONEUS, Hyolyn, KARD, Brave Girls, CNBLUE, DIA, Younha, SECHSKIES, and many more.
Are you one of the Spotify users who was surprised to see their K-pop favorites missing?