Spotify, a Sweden-based music and audio streaming platform, said in a statement that a deal with Kakao M, a major South Korean music distributor that runs Melon, Korea’s top music streaming platform, had ended.
“Despite our best efforts, the existing licensing deal we had with Kakao M (which covered all countries other than South Korea) has come to an end,” Spotify said in a statement, the BBC reported. “The fact that we have not yet reached agreement on a new global deal is unfortunate for their artists, as well as for fans and listeners worldwide. It is our hope that this disruption will be temporary and we can resolve the situation soon.”
Kakao M maintained that Spotify had chosen not to renew the contract, which expired Sunday, according to Soompi, a website dedicated to K-pop news.
Kakao M tied the removal of the music to its ongoing negotiations with Spotify over a domestic music rights deal. The South Korea company had licensed Spotify to distribute music solely outside of the country.
“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,” Kakao M said, according to Soompi. “We are currently continuing our negotiations about the supply of music.”
On social media, fans expressed disappointment at the turn of events. “The world of Kpop is in chaos right now,” wrote one user on Reddit’s K-pop forum. “My day is ruined,” another said.
It is not uncommon for music to suddenly disappear from Spotify and other music streaming platforms as licensing deals expire or are renegotiated. But the impasse underscores the challenges the company, which has continued to post an annual loss as it seeks out a greater global dominance of the music market, faces as it expands.
South Korea is the world’s sixth-largest music market, according to Spotify. The country already had several competitive streaming services before Spotify’s domestic entry.
Though Melon has 8.81 million monthly active users, Spotify has some 345 million across 178 countries, the company said in its latest earnings report.