Tons of K-Pop songs suddenly removed from Spotify

Darcy Chew

Staff Writer

     March 1, 2021. What was supposed to be a nice and sunny start to the beginning of the month turned sour for international K-Pop fans when they opened Spotify. They soon discovered when they tried to play some of their favorite songs the same recurring message appeared. “Song Unavailable.” 

      Thousands of K-Pop songs were suddenly gone overnight without warning. Included in the list of removed songs were hits from popular artists like IU, Monsta X, and Mamamoo, among others. Besides just songs being gone, their streams had also disappeared. In the K-Pop community, Spotify streams have long been well known statistics K-Pop groups cite to prove their popularity and global ranking among other western artists as they help determine weekly music charts such as Billboard’s Top 100. With the disappearance of songs and streams, it placed international K-Pop fans and K-Pop artists alike in a really tough situation. The disappearance of K-Pop songs had caused huge amounts of anguish among fans even prompting some to cancel their Spotify subscription.

     So why did they disappear?

     Earlier in February, Spotify had released its platform in South Korea, hoping to expand its market there. However, this was not well received by KaKao M which is a K-Pop music distributor in charge of MelOn, a popular South Korean domestic streaming service. Spotify’s expansion into South Korea put pressure on MelOn as competition between them rose. To deal with the issue, KaKao M withdrew the songs from Spotify as a licensing disagreement. 

    March 10, 2021. After 10 days, Spotify and KaKao M finally came to a consensus. Spotify released a statement saying that the songs will soon return. 

    March 11, 2021. To the relief of many K-Pop fans around the world, the removed songs have become available once again. However, this experience was incredibly sudden prompting people to wonder if such a situation could occur again.  

IU, a popular K-Pop artist, had a ton of her recent songs removed including “Celebrity” which was released in late January.“I am sad that many international fans will have a harder time listening to their artists since Spotify is one of the most popular apps used in today’s society. If Kakao M were to cooperate with others more than this whole situation would have been a bit easier and it makes it worse for kpop groups since more people use other music apps than Naver” Anais Ng (12) comments. 

Sources:

https://www.vox.com/22308001/spotify-kakao-m-kpop-purge-iu-epik-high-seventeen-mamamoo

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/03/03/spotify-kpop-kakao-m-south-korea/

https://variety.com/2021/digital/news/spotify-k-pop-kakao-licensing-dispute-1234927727/

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