Spotify And Kakao Entertainment Reached An Agreement To Settle Their Dispute And Return Hundreds Of K-Pop Songs

Published on March 10, 2021

The dispute between Spotify and Kakao Entertainment (previously known as Kakao M) has reached its end. The two companies announced that they reached an agreement to make songs distributed by Kakao available on the platform once again.

If you don’t know what happened, here’s a quick recap.

Spotify Vs. Kakao

Up until March 1 at 12 AM KST, all songs distributed by Kakao were allowed to be played on Spotify; this was due to Spotify and Kakao’s original global licensing agreement. Once the clock struck midnight, the agreement expired and prior to that day, the two companies failed to come up with a new licensing agreement between the two of them.

The expiration resulted in hundreds of K-Pop songs and albums becoming unplayable on Spotify. It affected artists like Seventeen, Pentagon, Epik High, Monsta X, Loona, IU and many more. Some artists even spoke out on the matter, like Epik High frontman Tablo.

Epik High was ultimately able to restore their music under OURS Co., signifying that their tracks are theirs. Hyuna and Jessi, who moved to Psy’s label P NATION, were also able to re-upload some of their songs onto Spotify under the new label.

The New Agreement

In addition to returning the songs to the platform for global listeners, the new agreement between Spotify and Kakao Entertainment also allows for the songs and albums to be available on Spotify in South Korea for the very first time.

Spotify launched in the country last month, while Kakao has its own streaming service called MelOn, the most popular streaming service in South Korea; this prevented those in South Korea from listening to Kakao-distributed songs within the country.

Both companies released statements on the agreement. Spotify said that it is “pleased” that the songs have returned for its global listeners; the company also added delightment for its Korean listeners and their ability to now listen to said songs on the platform.

“Spotify’s mission has always been to connect artists to their fans all over the world and to give listeners access to all of the world’s music,” said a Spotify spokesperson. “We remain committed to making a positive impact on Korea’s music streaming ecosystem through our partnerships with artists, labels, and local rights holders.”

“Through its diverse partnerships around the world including Spotify, Kakao Entertainment hopes that music lovers around the world can easily access its artists’ and music content to enjoy K-pop,” a Kakao spokesperson said. “Kakao Entertainment remains committed to the Korean music ecosystem and its growth and will continue protecting the rights of artists, labels and local rights holders going forward.”

Reactions From Fans

As of right now, song titles and album names have returned to Spotify, but are unplayable at the moment. Eventually, everything will return to normal. This is a shift from last week, where everything had disappeared, and K-Pop fans are quite happy about the announcement.

Lexi Jones is an award-winning journalist and Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Las Vegas, she covers startup brands in entertainment, internet and LGBTQ+ startup news. She is also an editor of Grit Daily's "Top 100" entrepreneur lists.

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