Spotify loses a large collection of K-Pop music after discontinued deal with Kakao M

Jaeeun Park, Opinions Editor

On Feb. 28 (March 1 in S. Korea), the major entertainment company Kakao M sparked controversy after removing its diverse artists’ music from the global streaming platform Spotify. IU, HyunA, Monsta X, LOONA, MAMAMOO, SEVENTEEN, GFRIEND, ASTRO and (G)-IDLE are some of the many performing groups that have had their songs taken off the site. 

Spotify recently launched in Korea on Feb. 2, in a much-anticipated expansion into Asia’s second-largest music market, according to Billboard. There are many domestic streaming services already established in the country, including Melon (the most commonly used by far), Genie, FLO and Bugs, to name a few.

Melon is owned by Kakao M, which derives most of its revenue from online music sales. Jeff Benjamin, a columnist for Billboard and editor of another streaming site, Tidal, speculated that the introduction of the popular app Spotify into the country would create direct competition for Melon.

After talks of renewing licensing agreements amounted to nothing, BBC reports that  Kakao M has removed the content from their artists, and artists signed to their subsidiaries, from their competitor’s library. 

Some artists chose to comment on the issue.

Tablo, of the hip-hop group Epik High, uploaded his take on the situation on Twitter: “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?”

International fans and music professionals are mourning the loss of their playlists and contributed their opinions online as well. 

Benjamin tweeted, “Putting it out there: The saddest part about the Spotify vs Kakao M issue is the artists and fans affected. These corporations are fighting over pennies to their bottom line, but what listeners have an emotional connection to are the artists and creators who have no say in this.” 

West Ranch Sophomore Gloria Kim expressed her ire at the present circumstance: “This removal really angered me. Each song [in my library] carries a specific memory from the past and is irreplaceable. It was a way for me to soak into nostalgia and recollect the emotions. Now that these musics are removed, I feel as though a huge fraction of my past is gone.” Kim hopes the music will eventually come back, though she is still unsure of the future. 

Companies have yet to reach a compromise as consumers await the return of their content.