The drought is coming to a close: after several KPop songs licensed under Kakao have disappeared on Spotify due to licensing issues last March 1, both companies have finally reached an agreement to bring back all Kakao-licensed music to the music streaming platform. That means previously-removed KPop songs will return to Spotify.
The dispute between the two stemmed from Kakao Entertainment seeing Spotify as a threat to Melon–a Korea-based music streaming service that is owned by Kakao Entertainment. While we do not know what prompted both companies to go back to the negotiating table, a source told Variety that reactions from Kakao M artists and social media uproar from the label’s artists–which include APink and IU–has led Kakao to renegotiate with Spotify.
“Both companies have completed discussions about the renewal of their global licensing contract. As a result, Kakao Entertainment’s content will be available on Spotify platforms around the world, including in South Korea,” Spotify and Kakao Entertainment said in a joint statement.
As of press writing, both parties have yet to announce when Kakao Entertainment-licensed KPop songs will return to Spotify. Nonetheless, this is a welcome development to KPop fans who got frustrated with the sudden disappearance of most KPop songs on Spotify.
Because of the licensing issue, only KPop songs from the “Big Four”– which includes SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, JYP Entertainment and BigHit Entertainment–remain on Spotify as of the moment.
With Spotify being late in entering the Korean market, not to mention it has to battle against Kakao Entertainment’s Melon, the global streaming platform is expanding its efforts to make music–KPop included–accessible to everyone.
Disputes with Kakao Entertainment aside, Spotify’s scale of operations globally–which covers 95 countries with 345 million monthly users, 155 million paying subscribers, and 4.5 billion user-curated playlists–has played a part in expanding Korean music on an international stage.