Epik High’s Tablo comments on Kakao M-Spotify row: “Why is it always the artists and the fans that suffer”

Plenty of Korean music releases have been made unavailable on the global streaming giant

Tablo from Epik High has weighed in on the recent row between Spotify and South Korean music distributor Kakao M.

Earlier today (March 1), the global music streaming giant pulled hundreds of K-pop tracks from its services. Artists affected by the suspension include IU, GFriend, Apink and MAMAMOO. Epik High’s albums were also unavailable on the platform, including their most recent LP, January’s ‘Epik High Is Here (Part 1)’.

Following the news, Tablo tweeted his frustrations at both companies, calling the removal of the group’s music “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?” he wrote.

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His comment was later backed by Eddie Nam, the founder of Epik High’s label EN Management, who called for immediate rectification. “I have never heard of an artist’s music being taken down against the artist’s will, especially for something they didn’t do,” Nam wrote, adding that he was “heartbroken” by the news.

“Epik High’s albums, ‘Epik High Is Here’ and ‘Sleepless In __________’ are both unavailable on Spotify globally. This is heartbreaking as a manager, friend and fan. There needs to be a solution ASAP,” Nam tweeted.

“Knowing the years of hard work the guys put into those projects, it really really hurts to see this.” See his tweets below:

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Earlier today, Spotify said that users outside of South Korea would not be able to access Kakao M’s catalogue “due to the expiration of our licence”. It added that the company is working to resolve the matter soon and hopes that “this disruption will be temporary”.

“We remain committed to working with local rights holders including Kakao M, to help grow the Korean music market and overall streaming ecosystem together.”

Kakao M, on the other hand, claims that its catalogue has been suspended due to a Spotify policy that requires simultaneous domestic and global music deals with the streaming service. Both companies are reportedly still negotiating the contracts.

Spotify only launched in South Korea last month as part of its global expansion plans. At the time, Spotify’s Chief Freemium Business Officer, Alex Norström, said that the launch was a “massive opportunity for us to not only further our mission of bringing new and quality content to more audiences, but also help local Korean artists tap into Spotify’s 320million listeners worldwide. We hope to create more opportunities for Korean artists across all genres to be discovered by listeners around the world”.

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