Spotify Is Finally Coming to South Korea

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Spotify, the world’s leading streaming music brand, is ready to make its long-overdue entry into South Korea.

On Thursday (Dec. 17), the digital entertainment giant confirmed plans to roll out in South Korea in the first half of 2021, following a push into Russia and several other Eastern European territories.

For Spotify, launching in South Korea was simply a matter of timing and strategy.

With one of the fastest-growing music major markets and an industry long-touted as a model of the future, South Korea is a prize.

And led by the likes of BTS and Blackpink, its homegrown genre of K-pop is a global phenomenon.

“We are excited about our upcoming launch in South Korea, a market recognized as an epicenter for music, culture and tech innovation,” comments Alex Norström, Chief Freemium Business Officer of Spotify, in a statement.

“Spotify has been a partner to the Korean music industry for many years now. We are proud to have been a part of the K-pop global story, showcasing the genre on our platform and enabling its discovery all over the world, from Asia to the U.S., South America, Europe and the Middle East,” Norström continues. “We’re looking forward to working with our valued local partners to uncover more Korean artists, and to connect them with fans in South Korea and all over the world.”

Spotify will have some work to do. It’ll compete with the established YouTube app and the popular domestic streaming platform Melon. Also, in a quirk of the market, physical product continues to find popularity will millions of Korean music fans. Indeed, 2019 was the first time in four years the physical market declined, according to the IFPI.

Confirmation of its plan to expand into Asia’s No. 2 music market follows Spotify’s launch in Russia and 12 other European countries, a move that should introduce its platform to nearly 250 million potential new listeners.

In a recent conference call, CEO Daniel Ek told participants South Korea was on his hitlist.

Korea’s 51 million consumers are typically tech-savvy and streaming services are powering growth there, a fact reflected by its IFPI ranking as the No. 6 largest music market in 2019, up 8.2% year-on-year to $619 million.

During the same period, its streaming music market was valued at $328.9 million, for a No. 7 ranking.

Currently, Spotify operates in 92 market and boasts more than 320 million users, with upwards of 144 million premium subscribers.

A specific launch date for South Korea has not been announced.

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