Bring Out the Lightsticks, Vanished K-Pop Songs Will Return to Spotify

K-pop fans can start adding back their favorite tracks to Spotify playlists this week.
March 11, 2021, 6:58am
south korean kpop singer iu
South Korean singer IU. Photo: THE FACT / Imazins, Getty Images

It has been a rough 10 days for K-Pop fans everywhere, after an expired agreement with music distributor Kakao Entertainment saw hundreds of K-pop tracks removed from Spotify at the beginning of March. The “K-pop purge” flooded social media with mourning gifs and comparisons to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Thanos snap,” but news today welcomed a torrent of celebratory memes. After renegotiations — and angry fan reactions — Spotify announced that the vanished K-pop songs are making a comeback on the platform. 

A Spotify spokesperson said in a press statement that the company was “pleased” that the previously removed tracks “are back” on the music streaming platform, which would allow users outside South Korea to “once again enjoy the music they love.”

Fans started noticing that some tracks were gradually reappearing a day after they disappeared, but this is the first confirmation from Spotify that they will be back. As of writing, tracks by artists like IU and MAMAMOO have yet to be restored on the app, but a Spotify spokesperson told VICE that the K-pop songs will be back on its global platform within the week.

Kakao Entertainment is a distributor and record label for many K-pop artists. It also owns Melon, the largest streaming service in South Korea and a competitor of Spotify.

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In a press statement released today, a spokesperson for Kakao Entertainment also announced that the company has struck a deal with Spotify that would see its Korean music content back on the music streaming app, available to users both within South Korea and internationally.

“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,” the statement reads.

Some believe that the negative reactions prompted Kakao to renegotiate an agreement with Spotify, though neither company has addressed the issue publicly.

When news of the failed agreement between the two music industry giants first broke, the disappearance of K-pop songs saw many announcing that they would be ditching Spotify for other music streaming services.

But the removal of Kakao-distributed tracks from Spotify also sparked worries that it would limit the international reach of artists, with both fans and K-pop stars speaking out against the move. Unsurprisingly, the announcement of a renegotiated agreement was greeted with relief, elation, and a whole lot of attitude by K-pop fans on Twitter.

Meanwhile, people who have ventured onto other music streaming apps because of the fiasco now find themselves caught in an awkward position of deciding if they should remain on Spotify.

But most K-pop enthusiasts are just happy that balance has been restored in the world.