Spotify, the world’s largest music streaming service, is about to launch its service in South Korea. The music streaming giant recently appointed an executive for its business in South Korea and opened an official South Korean Spotify account, adding Korean language to its international version. Since early this year, there have been rumors in the music industry that Spotify will launch its service in South Korea in April but all you can find on the official Instagram account of Spotify Korea is its logo on the profile picture.
People in the music industry seem to care more about BTS’ ranking on Spotify than their ranking on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Some music agencies use their artists’ ranking on Spotify to promote their overseas popularity. Will Spotify, which has roughly 300 million users worldwide, be able to make a soft landing in the Korean music market?
Some people in Korea use Spotify by changing country settings to the U.S. or Japan to bypass country restriction. Personalized music recommendation based on user preference and a great number of songs are considered the biggest strengths of the Sweden-based music platform. From the main playlists created by Spotify by genre to those created and shared by users to those created by other media, such as The New York Times and Pitchfork, users can subscribe to a variety of playlists and enjoy music in great sound.
But there is much skepticism about the impact of Spotify’s launch in South Korea. The main reason is the user environment that is familiar to Korean music and domestic music platforms. “A domestic music platform recently reorganized its service to make it resemble overseas music platforms like Apple Music and then restored it to its original style,” said an executive at a domestic music service, adding that domestic users, who are accustomed to the user environment built by domestic music platforms, such as Melon and Genie, are likely to find Spotify unfamiliar and inconvenient so it could end up as a storm in a teacup after its free trial period. “Although Spotify seems to have better scalability than Apple Music, which is specialized for iPhone users, it will have difficulties in the domestic market if it fails to secure licenses for Korean pop music like Apple Music did,” said an official at a domestic music distributor.
Spotify Korea is known to be in talks with domestic music rights organizations. “If talks with Spotify end well, domestic services will be available within this month. But it takes time for Spotify Korea to coordinate with the headquarters,” said an official at a music rights group.
Spotify, which was founded in Sweden in 2006, is the world’s most popular music streaming service, operating service in over 100 countries. In Asia, Spotify is available in Japan, India, and Hong Kong. Industry insiders say Spotify’s advance into the tough Korean market has symbolic significance since the music streaming giant is already making great profits and has gained influence in the international market.