Hundreds of K-pop songs wiped off Spotify after music streaming platform dispute with Korean music distributor Kakao M

Tan Mei Zi
·3-min read
Groups like Gfriend had a huge chunk of their discography taken down from Spotify due to the disagreement. — Pictures via Instagram/gfriendofficial and AFP
Groups like Gfriend had a huge chunk of their discography taken down from Spotify due to the disagreement. — Pictures via Instagram/gfriendofficial and AFP

PETALING JAYA, Mar 2 — Hundreds of K-pop songs disappeared on Spotify yesterday following a dispute between the global streaming platform and Korean music distributor Kakao M.

Some Korean artistes had their entire discographies wiped off the app without warning while others only had a few tracks remaining, much to the dismay of international fans who largely rely on Spotify to get their K-pop fix.

Epik High rapper Tablo said the tiff between Spotify and Kakao M caused their latest album Epik High Is Here (Part 1) to be removed on Spotify.

“Regardless of who is at fault, why is it always the artistes and the fans that suffer when businesses place greed over art?” Tablo wrote on Twitter.

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K-pop fans soon realised the massive scope of groups and singers who were at least partially affected by the disagreement.

The list included Seventeen, IU, The Boyz, (G)I-DLE, Vixx, Infinite, Hyuna, 4 Minute, Monsta X, CN Blue, Gfriend, Mamamoo, AOA, Hyolyn, Sunmi, and many more.

Spotify then released a statement explaining that they had failed to renew their licensing agreement with Kakao M which had expired on March 1.

“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.

“However, in spite of this, we were unable to reach an agreement about renewing our global license,” said a Spotify spokesperson.

Spotify also denied that the situation was linked to their recent launch of its app in South Korea, which would have placed them as a direct competitor to Kakao M’s streaming service Melon.

Spotify added that they are working to resolve the issue but made no definite promises about restoring the immense catalogue of K-pop songs that had been wiped off the platform.

Not long after Spotify spoke up, Kakao M responded with a statement claiming that Spotify had deliberately refused to renew the licensing agreement despite requests to do so by Kakao M.

Kakao M added that they are currently in further negotiations with Spotify over domestic and global contracts for the distribution of their artistes’ music.

Tablo, who was one of the first musicians to tweet about the dispute, later updated fans that Epik High had managed to restore two of their albums on Spotify.

However, the albums’ streaming numbers were reset to zero and could not be recovered to users’ playlists.

“Did all we can to restore our music. Lost the streaming numbers and playlisting.

“Heartbroken but what matters is that you can hear the music again. Throw us a streaming party,” Tablo wrote.

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