Fans frustrated as Spotify removes hundreds of K-Pop songs amid licensing dispute with Kakao M

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Fans are frustrated after the removal of hundreds of K-Pop songs from music streaming service Spotify.
Fans are frustrated after the removal of hundreds of K-Pop songs from music streaming service Spotify.
Photo: anadolu agency/Getty Images
  • Spotify users are frustrated after the removal of hundreds of K-Pop songs from the service worldwide.
  • According to reports, music from artists like IU and Zico who have licensing agreements with South Korean distributor Kakao M can no longer be found on the app.
  • According to the music streaming giant, the distributors catalogue was removed from the app "due to the expiration" of their license. 

Fans around the world have been frustrated with Spotify after hundreds of K-Pop songs were removed from the music streaming app globally, according to reports.

What fans first hoped to be a temporary removal of tracks from artists like IU and Zico seems to now be permanent as Spotify struggled to reach an agreement with South Korean distributor Kakao M.

According to NME, Spotify officially launched in South Korea on 1 February, but did so without music from artists who have licensing deals with Kakao M. This as the streaming giant reportedly tried to reach an agreement with the distributor.

In a statement to NME (published 28 February), a Spotify spokesperson confirmed that Kakao M's catalogue would not be available on the app from 1 March 2021 "due to the expiration of our license".

"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," the statement reads. "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," it continued. 

The spokesperson also included that Spotify hoped the "disruption" would "be temporary". 

Not only does Kakao M distribute a significant portion of K-Pop music, the label also owns Melon, Korea's top music streaming platform, The Washington Post reports. 

According to Soompi, a website dedicated to K-Pop news, Kakao M released their own statement regarding the matter, claiming that Spotify made the decision not to renew the contract.

The site also reports that the distributor clarified that it was still negotiating whether its catalogue would be available on the South Korean version of Spotify, and this was separate from the expiration of their global licensing deal.

Meanwhile, fans have noted the removal of some K-Pop songs from Spotify, airing their frustrations on social media. 

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