Spotify, Kakao agree to global music licensing deal

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Spotify

Seoul: In a big relief for K-pop fans, South Korean music distributor Kakao Entertainment music streaming giant Spotify have reached an agreement on global music licensing after the two companies failed to renew an existing deal last month, resulting in a partial K-pop blackout.

The new deal comes after the two came under fire from global K-pop fans after Kakao’s music, which includes songs from popular artists such as IU, became unavailable for Spotify’s over 345 million users across 170 countries.

The two companies at the time-shifted the blame to the other, with Kakao saying the streaming giant pursued licensing deals for the South Korean and global markets simultaneously, while Spotify said it had tried to renew the global deal for a year and a half, reports Yonhap news agency.

Kakao Entertainment’s music had been available for Spotify’s global markets, excluding South Korea, since 2016.

“We are pleased that Kakao Entertainment Corp.’s content and artists are back on Spotify,” read a statement from the Swedish company.

“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”.

The move will boost Spotify’s presence in the country, after its debut early last month without a licensing deal with Kakao Entertainment, which holds 37.5 percent of the songs on last year’s top 400 Gaon Music Chart of the Korea Music Content Association.

The two companies are indirect competitors in the local market, with Kakao Entertainment’s parent and local tech giant Kakao Corp. operating Melon, the country’s top music streaming service with nearly 9 million monthly active users.