Earlier today, 1 March, K-pop fans around the world were dismayed to discover that hundreds of their favourite K-pop tracks were no longer available on Spotify
The artistes affected include IU, Ailee, MONSTA X, Epik High, GFRIEND, SF9, KARD, VIXX, Dreamcatcher, INFINITE, Hwasa, Zico, Jessi, B2ST, MAMAMOO, MOMOLAND, SEVENTEEN, and more.
For some artistes, their entire discographies disappeared, while for others, only some of their songs were removed from the streaming platform.
This came as a shock to both fans and the artistes, as the K-pop songs suddenly became unavailable without warning.
Tablo of Epik High even Tweeted about it, expressing his frustration.
Later on, Spotify released an official statement to clarify the situation. In it, they explained that the issue was due to the expiration of their licensing agreement with Korean music distributor Kakao M.
A spokesperson for Spotify stated, "Due to the expiration of our original licensing agreement with Kakao M on March 1, 2021, we are no longer able to provide its catalogue to fans and listeners all over the world.
"We have been making efforts in all directions over the past year and a half to renew the global licensing agreement so that we could continue to make Kakao M artists' music available to fans all over the world, as well as our 345 million users in 170 different regions.
"However, in spite of this, we were unable to reach an agreement about renewing our global license."The matter of our global licensing agreement is unrelated to the launch of our service in South Korea.
"We feel that this situation is deeply unfortunate for many artists, as well as fans and listeners all over the world, and we sincerely hope that we will be able to quickly resolve the current situation.
"We will continue to do our utmost so that we can keep working with Korean rights holders, including Kakao M, and help both the Korean music market and overall streaming ecosystem grow together."
Kakao M then followed up with their own official statement, in which they claimed that Spotify had chosen not to renew their agreement, even after a request from Kakao M
The company also added that both parties are still in the process of negotiating whether or not Kakao M's catalogue will be made available on the recently launched South Korean version of Spotify.
According to an article by Soompi, this launch in South Korea put Spotify in direct competition with Melon, Kakao M's own streaming service.
However, Kakao M stated that the expiration of their global licensing agreement with Spotify is an entirely separate and unrelated issue.
Kakao M stated, "Unrelated to our preexisting global licensing agreement with Spotify, Kakao M has been separately negotiating with Spotify regarding a domestic contract for the supply of music.
"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.
"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. We are currently continuing our negotiations about the supply of music."
Thus far, there has been no confirmation on whether the removed K-pop songs will be re-added to Spotify
Read more of our latest #entertainment stories: