Music streaming giant Spotify has removed hundreds of K-pop songs from its library on Sunday, leaving many listeners outraged. The Swedish company confirmed to NME that it has removed specific K-pop songs because its licensing deal with Korean distributor Kakao M has expired. Spotify tried working with Kakao M over the past year and a half to renew their global licensing agreement. “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,” a recent Spotify statement claims. “The fact that we have not yet reached 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 is one of South Korea’s biggest distributors of music. The company distributed 37.5% of the country's Top 400 Yearly Song Chart last year. Artists who have a licensing deal with Kakao M were the only ones affected by the sudden Spotify change. Some of the affected artists include Sistar, IU, Monsta X, Epik High and Zico, the BBC reported.
Songs by artists signed to labels such as SM, YG and JYP remain unaffected. Spotify launched its services in South Korea on Feb. 1. A spokesperson of Kakao M told The Korea Herald last month that they “are still talking with Spotify [about distributing our songs through their platform].” Tablo, a member of the K-pop group Epik High, took to Twitter on Sunday to speculate what happened between the two companies.
Epik High, HyunA and other artists are looking for ways to return their music to Spotify by going through new distribution deals. On Tuesday, some of Epik High’s songs were available to stream again on Spotify. The recent announcement has left many fans furious, pushing some of them to consider whether they should cancel their Spotify subscriptions.
Discussions between the two companies are still ongoing, South China Morning Post reported. Kakao M claimed in a statement that it asked Spotify to “separate the two agreements so the global agreement can be renewed,” but the latter requested “a licensing agreement which included both global and domestic markets and this has extended our discussions.” Feature Image via Republic of Korea (CC BY-SA 2.0)
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