Image Credit: Spotify

As the K-Wave rolls on outside South Korea, Spotify says its just getting started in the region. How has Korean Spotify grown since the platform launched two years ago?

South Korea is a pivotal music market, and when Spotify arrived in the country in 2021 there was much fanfare from the company. Spotify is taking stock to see how Korean music has grown at home and abroad.

The huge success of music from South Korea, from K-pop to K-hip-hop to K-R&B and beyond, makes it feel as if it’s always been a global phenomenon – but its still in its early stages. That’s the view of David Park, Spotify Korea Managing Director, who was interviewed as part of the second anniversary celebrations and shed some light on the regional strategy over the past two years.

Alongside offering the platform to consumers in South Korea, focus behind the scenes by the company was initially on supporting local artists and labels. This included offering Spotify for Artist masterclasses, to result in better engagement from Spotify listeners around the world not just in Korea.

Promoting South Korean artists on Spotify came from promoting specific releases throughout the year, as well as through the usual global music programs – like RADAR, EQUAL, Spotify Holiday Singles – to give emerging local talent a boost.

Time for some stats. Since launch, Korean artists registering on the Spotify for Artists platform has increased by 75%. Korean artists have also been taking advantage of Spotify promotional tools. The amount of Spotify Canvas uploaded by Korean artists went up by 493%.

The K-pop playlist was rebranded as K-Pop On! (온) with unique content to push fan engagement. Since launch K-Pop On! streams increased by 65%, and in the past year alone amassed over 700 million plays.

Spotify users in India visited the K-Pop Hub most frequently, followed by Indonesia and the USA.

What’s in store for Korean Spotify in the near future? For one thing, there’ll be a shift away to other genres besides K-Pop – already, the focus has moved to K-Hip-hop, and promoting music from Korean TV shows. Local music festivals meanwhile will generate playlists and exclusive content.

K-Pop continues to be huge and fans continue to live and breathe their favourite artists, helping to promote outside of the fandom. As an extension of this, Korean food and fashion continues to find new fans through the visuals and culture associated with K-Pop genre.

However, what Spotify won’t tell you is that the platform doesn’t come close to being the most popular music streaming service in South Korea. A recent survey found Melon to be the most popular streaming platform at 32.8%, with YouTube eating into its subscriber share – in fact, if you bring YouTube Music into the equation, YouTube surpasses Melon with 34.6%. Spotify on the other hand, did not rank in the survey. But, as Park noted, it’s still early days for the platform in the country.

South Korean music artists can upload music for free to Spotify, Melon, YouTube Music and beyond with RouteNote! Find out more about our unlimited music distribution here, and release your music around the world.