Entertainment

Hundreds of K-Pop songs by KakaoM removed from Spotify

Including songs from IU, LOONA, Dreamcatcher, GFRIEND, SEVENTEEN, MAMAMOO, and more

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Image by GadgetMatch

K-Pop has been making waves both in South Korea and outside their homeland. And with the recent launch of Spotify Korea, international fans are expecting it to be recognized by major Korean music shows as an additional attempt in making more underrated artists and groups succeed without totally relying on Korean streaming platforms and Korean fans alone. But the recent feud between KakaoM and Spotify put everything to a screeching halt.

What is KakaoM?

KakaoM is a large co-publisher of K-Pop albums by Korean artists. Other than being a music publishing house, they’re also a music and concert production house, events management agency, talent agency, and even a record label. This basically means they can handle everything from handling K-Pop trainees and talents, up to pre-production, production, and post-production phases of a single, EP, mini album, or even a full album.

Image by GadgetMatch

Other than KakaoM’s in-house artists like IU (under EDAM Entertainment), Apink, VICTON, and Weeekly (under PlayM Entertainment), as well as non-KakaoM talents such as LOONA, Dreamcatcher, MAMAMOO, GFRIEND, SEVENTEEN, HyunA, and (G)-IDLE, this long Twitter thread shows the full list of K-Pop groups, duos, and soloists that are handled and/or whose albums were published by KakaoM:

Explaining the fiasco

Image by GadgetMatch

In an article published by the Korean site NAVER, Spotify has informed that KakaoM was unable to extend the validity of the agreement. Thus, effectively ending the contract today, March 1, 2021. Spotify also reported that they’ve been keeping in touch with KakaoM for a year but to no avail. They even said that KakaoM never informed the artists nor their respective agencies prior to the cancellation.

KakaoM isn’t totally a stranger in such issues. This already happened in 2019 when KakaoM failed to mass produce LOONA’s “[X X]” albums despite the large volumes of album pre-orders. That hindered LOONA from getting their first win in a music show. It even came to a point where they failed to renew LOONA’s songs listed under them in Spotify.

This also has a massive effect among international K-Pop artists and fans in general. With the large number of groups and artists alone, Spotify not only helps them get on a larger scale outside Korea, but it also contributes records to music charts such as Billboard.

Streaming charts have always been a big deal among K-Pop fans. With Spotify’s recent entry in the Korean music industry, fans have speculated that this unsettled agreement between Spotify and KakaoM was due to the fact that they don’t want to lose Melon, which is Korea’s top and largest music streaming platform with 28 million subscribers.

Other than the reliance of chartings and rankings by music shows such as Mnet’s M Countdown, KBS’s Music Core, SBS’s Inkigayo, MBC’s Music Core, and more, the streaming platform is owned by none other than KakaoM. This is a speculation all along but the fact that Spotify has 345+ million subscribers in 170 markets dwarfs Melon alone.

Stan Twitter memes everywhere

Some fans were able to make humor out of this controversy.

With KakaoM’s Melon ownership, international fans have joked around that signing up to Melon will never happen.

The fury of the K-Pop international fanbase might have made KakaoM realize their wrong action.

Orbits aren’t late to the meme party

It seems like every K-Pop fan is transferring to YouTube Music (not even Apple Music)

KakaoM as Thanos, anyone?

Memes aside, Spotify has re-assured fans that this issue is temporary and can still be resolved once KakaoM reaches a new global deal. Fans (like me) are hoping that KakaoM will settle this as soon as possible or this might be a huge loss not just to them, but for fans, artists, and their respective agencies as well.

Entertainment

10 things we learned about Hyun Bin at the Smart Hallyu Hangouts

We crashed K-drama actor Hyun Bin’s fan meet

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Hyun Bin

Over the weekend, Korean superstar Hyun Bin had a virtual fan meet with his Filipino supporters. Through Smart’s Hallyu Hangouts, thousands of fans were able to watch the interview hosted by Sam Oh and Park Kyung-Lim.

A couple were also given the chance to ask Hyun Bin some questions, one of them even showed off their prowess in speaking Korean. It was a fun evening for everyone, especially his biggest supporters whose dreams of attending his fan meets were hampered by the pandemic. Thank goodness for technology and fast internet, Filipino fans still got to spend with the actor even virtually.

During the hangout, we picked up a couple more interesting things about Hyun Bin that makes him more than just the characters he plays on screen.

He’s a perfectionist

While shooting for the Smart commercial, Hyun Bin admitted that it took a while to learn his line. “Simple, Smart ako” might be a short and easy sentence to say for Filipinos but  “simple” proved to be quite tricky for him. He took some time to learn it and even asked people for help.

He says that he’s always been like this and while filming for dramas, he would even be quite hard on himself. There are times when his directors are already happy with the scene but he would still want to iron out his acting.

He had a fan club when he was in high school

Before entering show business, Hyun Bin already had his own fan club. Talk about being extremely good looking! He was modest enough to say that he didn’t know much about it, though.

He’s a news junkie

We love a well-rounded oppa and Hyun Bin admits to reading all sections of the news. “It’s nice to know what’s happening in the world I’m living in,” he said during the live.

He doesn’t watch his own work

He admits to going on OTT platforms a lot to watch series and movies but never the ones that have him on them. In fact, he has never seen Crash Landing on You (CLOY) after they filmed the drama.

Hyun Bin is passionate about golf

He says he would love to become a golf player. This, after getting hooked on the sport. He admits it’s just a hobby and that if he weren’t so busy, he’d probably be doing it more often. It’s also something that relaxes him.

Hyun Bin

He rarely cries IRL

Hyun Bin admits that he doesn’t cry much in real life. Maybe it’s because he does it a lot for work or maybe because he’s just extremely happy right now.

He searches his name online

Rarely does any celebrity admit to Googling oneself so this was quite refreshing. He says he does it about once a day. “I want to know if there’s something about me that I don’t know of. I also want to see how events like these are covered by the media,” he added.

He knew how to play the piano

Hyun Bin learned how to play the piano as a child. However, he forgot most of it as he rarely used the skill. So, when they were filming for Crash Landing on You, he would practice in his hotel room using an electric keyboard they brought with them all the way from Korea.

He would’ve loved to play two other CLOY characters

It’s hard to imagine Hyun Bin as anyone other than Ri Jeong-hyeok in CLOY. However, he says that he would have been open to playing the villain, Cho Cheol-gang and the wiretapper, Jung Man-bok.

Hyun Bin

He has an upcoming movie

They just finished the sequel to Confidential Assignment and he promises that it will be bigger and more international than the first one. “In the first movie, it was just North and South Korea that were involved. In the sequel, the US and other countries will also play a part in the story,” he shared.

Smart Hallyu Hangouts was powered by Smart, one of the country’s top network providers. Internet metrics company Ookla recently cited Smart as the country’s fastest mobile data network in the second half of 2020 after it achieved a Speed Score™ of 24.99, with average speeds of 20.08 Mbps for download, and 7.42 Mbps for upload.

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Why you should get iQiyi

We got it so you don’t have to

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iQiyi

Pan-Asian content, duh

There’s a ton of streaming services out there. But, none embrace that Asian representation like iQiyi. They’ve got films, variety shows, and series from China, South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, and more. If you’re having a tough time finding shows and films you grew up seeing or just want somewhere you feel represented, check iQiyi out. It’ll surprise you.

Classic Hong Kong movies

If you’re a cinephile or know someone who is, this might just be the streaming service for you. Most classic Hong Kong films are a tough find. From Infernal Affairs to A Chinese Ghost Story, you’re sure to find the good, the bad, and obscure classics. iQiyi, no joke, lays out a ton of these Hong Kong classics on their platform and you’d be remiss to skip out on watching them.

Find the good-good

There’s a number of really good Asian series and films on iQiyi. Shows like Youth with You, Chuang, The Penthouse: War in Life 3, and Tokyo Revengers are just a few on the platform on most people’s must-watch and favorites. iQiyi is never short of surprises.

The absolute absurd finds

There’s no lack of decent, obscure, and downright bizarre tv series, films, and variety shows on here. Just note that most shows don’t age well and are a great watch in irony. Just keep an eye out on the obscure ones, they sometimes don’t have subtitles. And remember, these silly finds don’t take away from the unapologetically good shows on the platform.

Free shows you’d pay to watch elsewhere

iQiyi is a free streaming app with paid VIP access to a ton of exclusives. But, not everything is behind that paywall making this a huge game-changer. There’s a long list of free-to-access shows, K-dramas, and anime you’d normally find behind a paywall so, do yourself a favor. Get it.

It’s got interactive features

The platform showed off its new features with Game of Shark, a reality show where celebrities form teams and participate in murder mystery role-playing games. If you pick Rhythm Mode, your phone vibrates in time to events in the show. On top of that, Shark Mode allows users to directly take on the identity of characters. With it, you get to join your favorite celebrities in collecting hidden clues and identifying the murderer.

Having launched the world’s first Interactive Video Guideline (IVG) and IVP, iQiyi have pioneered a one-stop platform of assisted production tools that helps content creators produce and publish interactive videos efficiently and conveniently!

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I’m missing the Olympics because I don’t have cable

And it sucks

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It’s 2021. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which was delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, is in full swing as of writing. However, as someone whose primary source of media entertainment all comes from streaming, there’s no easy and convenient way for me to watch the games. Major bummer.

I like to enjoy my media a certain way; I prefer to stream them on my TV. Which is why majority of the content I consume come from YouTube, Netflix, and the occasional Amazon Prime, HBO Go (Yep, not even HBO Max), and Apple TV.

I find it incredibly baffling that the stakeholders involved in bringing the games to the people failed to come to an agreement to make it easily accessible on the aforementioned platforms. It’s 2021. Why on earth am I not able to watch the greatest sporting event on the planet the way I want to?

Believe me, I hear the privilege in my words. Regardless, I still feel marginalized.

So how can you watch the Olympics right now?

I asked a friend who’s been covering the games. He watches through cable and had to pay a PhP 150 fee (around US$ 3/ SG$ 4) to avail of the Tokyo 2020 Premium from a particular cable provider.

Thing is, the whole Olympic coverage in the Philippines is locked to the MVP group of companies. You wanna follow the games, you’re gonna have to do it on one of their platforms.

Here’s an excerpt from their press release on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic coverage:

“Sports fans will have comprehensive access to the Olympic Games — from the Opening Ceremonies all the way to when the games conclude — on free to air via TV5 and One Sports. One Sports+ on Cignal TV will also dedicate a significant amount of their daily hours to broadcast the events, with Cignal also opening up two exclusive channels dedicated to broadcast the games 24/7. Cignal Play, in addition to live channels TV5, One Sports & One Sports+, will be offering exclusive channels broadcasting live updates to its subscribers, along with exclusive content not available on the TV broadcast. Cignal TV’s One News leads the group’s round-the-clock news coverage, featuring results, updates, and highlights.”

Comprehensive? Maybe. For platforms within the MVP group of companies. If you’re not subscribed to any of these, well, that’s just too bad. It’s good for business and I completely understand how the whole thing works. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

The coverage also missed to televise or showcase Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold medal win in the Weightlifting competition. If you’ve been following sports news, the Philippines was expected to get a medal in this event. Sadly, the moment was only known following updates from reporters on the ground.

How I wish it was handled

I’m sure there’s a lot more that goes into it in terms of TV and broadcasting rights, but we’re literally at an age where plenty of folks have decided to cut the cord and rely on streaming for content.

On YouTube, you can buy and/or rent movies and shows. The platform and structure exists for pay-to-watch content. They could have even made tiers or packages like charge a certain amount to gain access to all the games, a different and lower amount if you just want to follow a certain sport and/or a certain event.

Maybe the potential earnings to do so didn’t justify the costs to implement it. Whatever the case, it’s still incredibly frustrating.

Sure, I can go through the hoopla of setting up a VPN and look for streaming sites. But that’s more even more cumbersome. I don’t mind paying a convenience fee if it means that after a long day of work I can kick back, relax, and watch some damn sports.

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