Kakao M artists IU, Seventeen, Monsta X's songs removed from Spotify over license dispute, fans call it 'unfair'

Spotify officially launched in South Korea on February 1 and reportedly the music platform didn’t acquire the license for Kakao M artists which includes a major portion of the K-pop catalog

                            Kakao M artists IU, Seventeen, Monsta X's songs removed from Spotify over license dispute, fans call it 'unfair'
Seventeen was among the Kakao M artists who found their streams removed from Spotify (Seventeen Instagram)

In a fresh case of dispute between Spotify and Kakao M, a series of artists lost all their music streams from Spotify as the music platform notified that a number of artists have been removed from the platform. Kakao M is one of South Korea’s oldest record labels, talent agency, music production company, event management, concert production company and a music publishing house to many globally popular artists like Mamamoo, IU, Epik High, Loona, The Boyz and more.

Spotify officially launched in South Korea on February 1 and reportedly the music platform didn’t acquire the license for Kakao M artists which includes a major portion of the K-pop catalog. According to data, 37.5 percent of the songs featured on the 2020 Top 400 Yearly Song Chart from Gaon Music Chart was distributed by Kakao M. The dispute between Spotify and Kakao M is ultimately causing a lot of trouble for the K-pop artists, Epik High’s Hip-hop star Tablo posted on Twitter. 


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Epik High recently had their comeback with 'Epik High is Here' which is now deleted from Spotify (Tablo of Epik High Instagram)


What is the Spotify, Kakao M dispute?

The ‘Lesson Zero’ crooner Tablo posted, “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?” A spokesperson from Spotify stated, “We have been working with Kakao M 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", NME reported.


The statement further said, “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.”

It added, “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.”

Meanwhile, according to AllKpop, Kakao M explained the situation stating, "KakaoM has had an agreement with Spotify on overseas music distribution. We are currently negotiating our contract with them for Korea, but we were notified of our contract ending for everywhere else on February 28th. We asked to renew the contract. However, Spotify said that the Korean and overseas contract has to be negotiated simultaneously, so the overseas service is currently disabled. We are still talking about distributions."

'Celebrity' single of IU  deleted from Spotify (dlwlrma Instagram)

K-pop fans have taken it to Twitter to report the number of streams that some of the artists have lost because of this dispute and Spotify’s removal of the songs. A Seventeen fan page posted that after Spotify removed Seventeen’s playlist from the platform, their company Pledis Entertainment’s stream went from 1,260,197,540 to 297,069,572. Another user posted the list of artists most affected by the Spotify removal which included Epik High, IU, (G)I-DLE, Loona, Mamamoo, Seventeen, Monsta X, The Boyz, BTOB, APINK, Sunmi, Dreamcatcher, IZ*ONE, Cravity, Hyuna, Jessi, Hwasa, G-friend, Rain, P1 Harmony and more.





Music of SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, Big Hit Labels, and JYP will remain on Spotify.

Fans react

K-pop fan bases have taken to Twitter to express their outrage against Spotify’s decision as some of the artists will be losing music with streams up to 1 billion. A fan stated, “Me deleting spotify now that I can't listen to Oneus, The Boyz, Seventeen, Monsta X, Hyuna, D1ce, IZ, Orange Caramel, IU, MCND, Golden Child and Lucy!” Another stated, “This is so unrealistically unfair. all my playlists are almost half of what they used to he now and those poor artists..” Another user noted, “This is a mess, and a huge undersight by both Kakao M and Spotify and will potentially hurt both of their revenues to a degree. I can see this being sorted out soon though, because it's just a bad move to pull so many songs from the biggest streaming app in the world.” More K-pop listeners said they are deleting the app, a user posted, “I'm dropping spotify as quickly as they removed songs from IU, Monsta X, Gfriend, The Boyz, Gaho, Golden Child, Seventeen, pH-1, Paul kim (to name a few) tsk. Disgraceful.”








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