As February came to a close, music fans all over the world were stunned to discover that some of their favourite K-pop songs were no longer available on Spotify.
⚠️ All songs distributed by Kakao M on Korea have reportedly been REMOVED from Spotify.— Kpop Charts (@kchartsmaster) February 28, 2021
The global streaming giant recently launched in Korea, competing alongside the likes of Melon, Genie, Flo (플로), and more. Melon is one of the top music streaming services in Korea and home to an extensive catalogue of homegrown songs.
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Its parent company, KakaoM, is the distributor of thousands of K-pop songs including hits by IU, MONSTA X, SEVENTEEN, LOONA, MAMAMOO, THE BOYZ, GFRIEND, (G)I-DLE, ASTRO, and more.
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On 1 March, songs distributed by Kakao M have been reportedly removed from the global music platform, leaving both fans and artists devastated by the news.
artists that had their stuff on spotify deleted, a thread— ً (@lemonphobic) February 28, 2021
Epik High's Tablo took to Twitter to tell fans that their latest album, Epik High Is Here, is no longer available to stream on Spotify. He also expressed his frustration at the current situation saying "Why is it always the artists and the fans that suffer when businesses place greed over art?"
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
Meanwhile, EN Management founder Eddie Nam (who manages artists like Epik High and Eric Nam) appealed to both parties to come up with a solution for both fans and artists' sake.
Epik High’s albums, “Epik High Is Here” and “Sleepless in __________” are both unavailable on Spotify globally. This is heartbreaking as a manager, friend and fan. There needs to be a solution ASAP.— Eddie Nam (@eddienam) February 28, 2021
[UPDATE 1 MARCH 2021] A Spotify spokesperson confirmed the news to Bandwagon, saying that they've been working with Kakao M for the last year and a half to renew the global licensing agreement. "The fact that we have not yet reached an agreement on a new global deal is unfortunate for their artists, as well as for fans and listeners worldwide. It is our hope that this disruption will be temporary and we can resolve the situation soon."
Read the full statement below:
Spotify can confirm that starting March 1st 2021, KakaoM’s catalogue will no longer be available to our listeners worldwide due to the expiration of our licence.
We have been working with KakaoM over the last year and a half to renew the global licensing agreement so that their artists’ music would remain available to Spotify’s 345M+ listeners in nearly 170 markets around the world.
Despite our best efforts, the existing licensing deal we had with KakaoM (which covered all countries other than South Korea) has come to an end.
The fact that we have not yet reached an agreement on a new global deal is unfortunate for their artists, as well as for fans and listeners worldwide.
It is our hope that this disruption will be temporary and we can resolve the situation soon. We remain committed to working with local rights holders including KakaoM, to help grow the Korean music market and overall streaming ecosystem together."
Kakao M has also released an official statement regarding the removal of their catalogue from Spotify. According to Soompi, Kakao M stated:
Unrelated to our preexisting global licensing agreement with Spotify, Kakao M has been separately negotiating with Spotify regarding a domestic contract for the supply of music.
We separately received notice of the expiration of our license on February 28, and we requested a renewal of our existing global contract.”
With K-pop now a global phenomenon, thousands of international music fans voiced out their thoughts on Twitter.
me listening to finding out that— brenda ‧₊✜˚. ⁷ (@jjuniesphobuddy) February 28, 2021
kpop last night it’s all been
and vibing removed bc of
kakao m and
kakao m removing songs from spotify is kpop twt’s thanos snap— ً (@tbzari) February 28, 2021
he has something to say to kakao m and spotify pic.twitter.com/JnLwGEyxg3— sar (@RLABUFFALO) February 28, 2021
kakao m and spotify sort it out rn pic.twitter.com/v02xkIshGV— nana⁷ ☁️ happy wonho day! (@hopeberry_) February 28, 2021
Plss bring back Eight. Winter Flower. Wine. and other Korean tracks on spotify.... fcking fix this mess, Kakao M and Spotify 😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/FC1BhdmbJ1— LOVELY JIMIN🐣💛 (@chim_cooky95) February 28, 2021