“We are pleased that Kakao Entertainment’s content and artists are back on Spotify, allowing our 345M+ global listeners across 170 countries to once again enjoy the music they love. 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. We are delighted that our Korean listeners will now also be able to enjoy this local music alongside our 70 million+ songs and 4 billion+ playlists,” Spotify sad in a statement. “We remain committed to making a positive impact on Korea’s music streaming ecosystem through our partnerships with artists, labels, and local rights holders.”
Their global licensing deal had expired on Feb. 28. Spotify issued a statement to Billboard that read, “Despite our best efforts, the existing licensing deal we had with Kakao M has come to an end.” But Kakao Entertainment issued a counter-statement on Soompi, pointing fingers at the streaming service for being the one who chose not to renew their agreement after Kakao had requested it. They were also in the midst of negotiating a separate, unrelated domestic contract, but “due to Spotify’s policy that they must proceed with the domestic and global contracts at the same time,” its global contract with Kakao Entertainment expired.
Spotify launched in South Korea on Feb. 2, and its move into the world’s sixth largest market, according to the IFPI, put Spotify in direct competition with the domestic streaming band affiliated with Kakao Entertainment, Melon. (Kakao Corp. has operated Melon since 2009.)
“Kakao Entertainment Corp. (previously Kakao M) has entered into an agreement with Spotify and will sequentially provide its music content to Spotify for service in and beyond Korea,” reads a statement from Kakao Entertainment to Billboard. “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. 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.”