In a statement released to NME, Spotify has confirmed that Kakao M albums have been removed due to the “expiration of our licence”.
The full statement reads as follows:
“We have been working with KakaoM 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,” they said. “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.
“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, fans continue their disapproval of their favourite albums being taken down.
kakao m: take half the kpop industry off spotify
me screaming into my phone after 90% of my playlists have been deleted:pic.twitter.com/usZwBFuSnX
— i put KEVIN on my carrier (@HobiOnMyCarrier) February 28, 2021
Kpop stans looking for the songs in their playlists after the Spotify x Kakao M dispute. pic.twitter.com/VKArykw68P
— ♕ashé🦋 (@vixieashes) February 28, 2021
Other fans have also shared alternative streaming sites, such as Genie, Apple Music, YouTube, Deezer and more.
Kakao M have yet to respond. However, it is clear fans will have to hope both are able to renew their licence.
Kpop fans have expressed their anger at the removal of Kakao M-distributed albums from Spotify all around the world.
As it hit midnight in Korea, fans on Twitter found that their favourite artists’ albums had been deleted off of Spotify.
me listening to finding out that
kpop last night it’s all been
and vibing removed bc of
kakao m and
— brenda ‧₊✜˚. ⁷ (@jjuniesphobuddy) February 28, 2021
Songs from artists under Kakao M have been removed from Spotify globally. The intentions of this action are unclear, but it does nothing except hurt artists and their consumers. pic.twitter.com/Ce6iHaqJuP
— ChartsKR (@ChartsKR) February 28, 2021
kakao m removing songs from spotify is kpop twt’s thanos snap
— ً (@tbzari) February 28, 2021
The artists in question all had albums distributed by Kakao M, including IU, MONSTA X, SEVENTEEN, LOONA, Dreamcatcher, Epik High, HyunA and more. Also affected are BTS’ RM and Suga, who released collaborations with Younha, IU, Suran, MFBTY and Epik High.
The full list of affected artists can be found here.
The global removal comes as Spotify marks a month since its launch in South Korea. At the time of launch, the streaming platform also did not include albums distributed by Kakao M. As Kakao M owns the country’s number one music streaming platform, MelOn, and Spotify is the world’s largest music streaming platform, fans assume a rivalry sparked between the two. However, Kakao M stated that they were “still talking” to Spotify.
Now, Epik High’s Tablo revealed there is a “disagreement” between the two companies. In his tweet, he echoes fans’ anger by questioning why “the artists and the fans…suffer when businesses place greed over art”.
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?
— 에픽하이 타블로 | Tablo of Epik High (@blobyblo) February 28, 2021
Several fans are now demanding the return of these albums, with “Spotify” and “Kakao M” trending worldwide.
Both Kakao M and Spotify have yet to respond.