• Busra Yildirim, reporter

The Contention Between Spotify and Kpop Fans

Spotify, a world renowned music streaming platform, has removed many artists from the globally sensational music genre, Kpop. Many Kpop fans are furious and weary after the recent turmoil that has occurred in the industry.

Many idols have been accused of bullying and this has caused many fans to feel betrayed. Spotify’s removal of many Korean music artists has increased the frustrations of many Kpop fans. Now why exactly did Spotify enact this purge, and is there hope for Spotify to bring back these global artists?

Spotify has become one the world’s most listened to digital music streaming services. Its convenient use and wide variety of music and podcasts has lured millions of people.

Kakao M however is a subsidiary of Korean tech giant and media amalgamation of Kakao. In 2016, Kakao M bought Korea’s biggest music distributor, Melon.

The two music distributors have a complicated relationship. Spotify had a deal with Kakao M which allowed them to distribute Kpop artists that were under the Korean music label. However, once the deal ended, the music distributors were not able to negotiate a deal that they both agreed on.

The principal reason why Spotify decided to enact the sudden purge is because of a domestic rights deal. Kakao M had licensed Spotify to distribute in every country Spotify has a deal with, except South Korea.

Many fans have expressed their distress with the #SpotifyIsOverParty on Twitter. Many stated how they cancelled their subscription to Spotify as a result of the debacle.

Jasmine Vo-Nguyen, jr., has expressed her frustrations at the mismanagement.

“Overall, I’m pretty disappointed and frustrated about the situation between KakaoM and Spotify," Vo-Nguyen said. "I feel frustrated because a lot of lesser-known artists use Spotify to connect with their International fanbase and to grow their brand also.”

She continued, “P Nation put the taken-down songs back on Spotify by using their own licensing but all of the streams were gone, which means the hard work of fans is gone. DPR Live is also suing KakaoM, which I think is a good course of action along with P Nation’s proactive stance. Neither the artists nor fans knew, and it worries me that some groups have disbanded already or don’t hold the rights to their songs anymore, and some songs will not get reuploaded. KakaoM and Spotify need to communicate better with each other, the artists on their platforms, and the users of both services.”

Spotify quickly took the matter into their own hands, shutting down the app for a short period of time. Many speculate that this was done in order to prevent Kpop fans from cancelling their subscriptions since they make a large portion of Spotify’s monthly listeners.

Many might think that Korean music fans are overreacting, however the recent statistics prove that their concerns are valid. More than twenty percent of Korean songs are missing. Many of the globally popular artists such as IU, Epik High, Mamamoo, Seventeen, and Loona are missing.

Many fans hope that a solution will soon be resolved between the two music distributors. This situation reveals the impact of music distributor’s actions on the interactions between fans and artists.


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