Kakao M claims Spotify policy forced removal of K-pop songs

“[Spotify] must proceed with the domestic and global contracts at the same time”

South Korean entertainment company Kakao M has spoken out on the removal of hundreds of K-pop songs from the global version of Spotify.

The company’s extensive back catalogue, which includes music by popular K-pop acts like IU, SISTAR and MONSTA X, was removed from Spotify on March 1 following the expiration of its contract with the streaming service. At the time, 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”. Spotify only launched in the East Asia country on February 1 this year and did not include music from Kakao M.

“Despite our best efforts, the existing licensing deal we had with KakaoM has come to an end,” Spotify added. “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.”


However, Kakao M claims that its catalogue has been removed due to a Spotify policy that requires simultaneous domestic and global music deals with the streaming service. The company also said that it is still in the process of negotiating with Spotify.

“Unrelated to the domestic contract, which we are still negotiating, we separately received notice of the expiration of our license on February 28 and we requested a renewal of our existing global contract,” Kakao M told South Korea media outlets, as translated by Soompi. “Due to Spotify’s policy that they must proceed with the domestic and global contracts at the same time, our global contract has currently expired.”

Meanwhile, earlier this month SM Entertainment founder Lee Soo-man said that K-pop needs to expand into the Chinese market in order to continue growing. The Korean music industry’s influence in China has been muted in recent years due to a ban on South Korean culture in the East Asian nation that stemmed from a political dispute.