The launching of Spotify in Korea in 2021 was big news and will have a major impact on the music industry as we move into 2023. However, the biggest impact will be on independent musicians in Korea. South Korea is the 6th largest music market in the world and now Koreans will have access to over 60 million tracks and over 4 billion playlists from around the world. Spotify has played a big role in bringing Korean music, especially K-Pop to global audiences. However, Koreans were not able to access Spotify in Korea until now. Spotify debuted its first K-Pop playlist back in 2014 and since then K-pop listening has increased by more than 2,000%.

Now with the launch of Spotify in Korea, they will be introducing a wide range of new playlists made exclusively for the South Korean audience. The playlists are curated by Korean music experts across many popular genres. Moreover, musicians in Korea can now tap into Spotify’s 516 million subscribers worldwide and get discovered.

Spotify in Korea

Spotify in Korea

What is Spotify? It is a streaming platform that offers curated playlists and unlimited access to music from all around the world for a small monthly fee. While there are other music streaming platforms, Spotify’s music catalog is extensive (over 80 million songs). However, what makes Spotify so popular is its curated playlists and recommendation feature. Spotify playlists are very popular. It is so popular that the platform promotes its own playlist more than the actual album or singles. 

New Way Path for Independent Musicians in Korea

RADAR Korea is a playlist that looks for new K-music artists and is part of Spotify’s global emerging artist program. This opens the door for independent musicians in Korea to get their music to a wider audience. Currently, many independent musicians in Korea are finding it difficult to get their music out there. Their only options are to open up their social media channels such as YouTube and grow their audience organically or physically perform on the streets (busking).

Radio stations in Korea are notoriously difficult to reach unless you are one of the major Kpop Entertainment companies. In addition,  top music streaming platforms Melon, Genie, FLO, and VIBE have not been successful in showcasing smaller musicians in Korea but rather big labels in the Kpop Entertainment industry. 

Spotify in Korea vs Kakao M

The biggest competitor to Spotify in Korea is Melon (owned by Kakao M). Melon has millions of songs in its library with a vast majority of them being Korean. It currently has 28 million subscribers in South Korea. In mid-2021, hundreds of K-pop songs were pulled from Spotify. This is because the K-pop songs that were pulled were from artists that were distributed by Kakao M. Spotify can renew the contract at some point in the future.

So how can Spotify compete in Korea? Easy, the two biggest advantages that Spotify has are their new feature that allows artists to fundraise through their Spotify profiles and Spotify’s recommendation algorithm that promotes new musicians. Therefore, not only can independent artists in Korea grow their fan base through Spotify but also generate income to keep their dreams alive. 

Easier Path to Global Exposure

Now with Spotify in Korea, it will be much easier for these musicians in Korea to make it onto a Spotify playlist rather than get on commercial radio stations in Korea. However, currently, artists in Korea will not be able to make a living from the streaming revenue generated from Spotify unless they have over 1 million monthly listeners. 

The key to being successful on Spotify is understanding how Spotify promotes certain playlists to its users. On their homepage, you will be able to find personalized playlists. Playlists are created based on your listening preferences on Spotify. With the data collected, Spotify is able to push suggested artists and playlists. Therefore, the key is to get on these curated playlists that Spotify’s algorithm creates. 

Getting on these playlists is key to users around the world discovering unknown artists in Korea. How much influence Spotify has on its listeners is one of the most underrated aspects when publishing your music on Spotify. Spotify encourages users to make their own playlists, the more the better. Spotify then uses this information to develop a new personally curated playlist for their users every week. These curated algorithm playlists created by Spotify generate 30% of the streaming that takes place on the platform. Therefore, Spotify’s algorithm is what attracts many followers to the platform. Features like the “Fans Also Like” aspect push similar genre songs to their listeners. 

How to Get Your Music on Spotify

  1. If you have a record label or distributor in Korea, they will take care of getting your music on Spotify Korea themselves.
  2. If you are independent, your first step will be to find distribution. Spotify can help find you a distributor in Korea.
  3. Independent musicians in Korea that want to pitch their songs to Spotify’s playlist editors need to make sure the songs are unreleased. Therefore pick a distributor in Korea that will allow you to select a release date at least a week in advance. This way, you can deliver the song to the editors early enough to pitch it.

Can Spotify in Korea Generate Enough Revenue for Kpop Entertainment Companies?

Spotify in Korea Stray Kids

We know that independent musicians will benefit from Spotify in Korea but what about the big label Kpop Entertainment companies? Not much. Kpop Entertainment companies have already been benefiting from Spotify since 2014. They have played a major role in spreading K-pop to the global market. Spotify coming to Korea really does very little for Kpop Entertainment companies. The reason is that the target market will be Koreans who already listen to K-pop.