Fans are concerned after Spotify’s contract with South Korean music distributor Kakao M came to an end, with hundreds of K-pop songs from groups like IU and Epik High disappearing from the streaming service.
K-pop has become an extraordinarily popular genre over the past few years, with groups like BTS and Blackpink taking the world by storm, accumulating millions of international fans along with their Korean fans.
The genre has become so popular overseas, that many of these popular artists have featured on huge mainstream talk shows, and have sold out huge arenas across the globe, proving just how much of a market there is for this popular style of music.
While most of the most popular songs are available for free to stream on platforms like YouTube, naturally many fans want the experience of listening to their favorite groups and songs ad-free from music streaming services.
Up until recently, they were able to do this through Spotify, which hosted many of the most popular K-pop artists’ songs so that fans could easily listen to them.
However, now that Spotify’s licensing deal with huge South Korean music distributor Kakao M has come to an end, hundreds of songs from popular artists like IU and Epik High have been removed from Spotify, leaving fans and artists frustrated.
Apparently a disagreement between our distributor Kakao M & Spotify has made our new album Epik High Is Here unavailable globally against our will. Regardless of who is at fault, why is it always the artists and the fans that suffer when businesses place greed over art?
— 에픽하이 타블로 | Tablo of Epik High (@blobyblo) February 28, 2021
artists that had their stuff on spotify deleted, a thread
weikim wooseokthe boyzd1cebibiminseoiuvictonpink fantasyepik highcherry bulletoneuse'lastcravitygiriboyjunekim sunggyubae173moonbyuldpr livewh3nwoo!ah!hyolyncode kunstdrippinjannabijukjae
— ً (@lemonphobic) February 28, 2021
Will K-pop songs be put back on Spotify?
Speaking to music and culture website NME, a spokesperson for Spotify explained that they had been working with Kakao M for the past year and a half to extend the licensing deal with the company, but “despite our best efforts, the existing licensing deal we had with Kakao M (which covered all countries other than South Korea) has come to an end.”
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They went on to say: “It is our hope that this disruption will be temporary and we can resolve the situation soon.”
With Spotify clearly still wanting to extend the deal and ensure that many of the missing K-pop tracks can return to the platform, it is hoped that things will be resolved sometime in the future.
However, it is unclear how long exactly this process will take, so for the time being it looks like Spotify users who are fans of the music genre will have to find alternative ways to listen to their favorite groups for the time being.