The Korea Herald


Spotify Korea hopes to push personalized music discoveries

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : Feb. 16, 2021 - 17:40

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Managing Director of Spotify Korea David Park (Spotify) Managing Director of Spotify Korea David Park (Spotify)
With Spotify’s new launch into Korea, the music streaming platform hopes it can spearhead change in how Koreans listen to and discover music with more personalized curations.

In an interview with The Korea Herald, Managing Director of Spotify Korea David Park said he hopes users can find joy from discovering new music through the platform’s curating algorithm, instead of relying solely on music chart rankings.

“It’s been only a week since we launched the platform and we are already receiving some meaningful feedback,” Park said in the interview on Tuesday. “One of the users said he was glad to find a song that he used to love 10 years ago (through our recommendation).”

Park added that this kind of feedback makes him think that there is room for Spotify to grow in the highly competitive Korean music market by providing more personalized music curating services.

Currently, Kakao runs Korea’s largest music streaming platform Melon, which has a more than 35 percent share of the local market, followed by Korean platforms Genie and Flo. These three Korean music platforms account for more than 80 percent of the market here.

“Our service does not just force an abundant number of songs to users,” Park said.

Park explained that since the system presents different playlists, which are sets of songs that have a common theme or are fit for a certain occasion, such as “K-Power Vocals” or “Acoustic Throwbacks,” which differs from the experience of listening to songs one at a time separately.
Korean hip-hop group Epik High’s 10th album is promoted in New York City‘s Times Square in January. (Epik High member Tablo’s Instagram) Korean hip-hop group Epik High’s 10th album is promoted in New York City‘s Times Square in January. (Epik High member Tablo’s Instagram)

“Our users can have a continuous listening experience,” Park said. He added that this experience is also one of the platform’s strengths that makes its listeners stay on the platform longer.

Park said while he is well aware of the fact that Korean music listeners and artists tend to depend on music charts and rankings, he stressed that Spotify is hoping to grow the local music industry pie, rather than divide it.

“We see that those music charts reflect hard work that the artists put in and the fans’ support, so it is also important. Songs on charts should be appreciated,” Park said. “Nonetheless, users also need personalized service as well.“

Park sees that this service is important for the Korean market in creating an environment in which the listeners can consume diverse new tracks.

The personalized service is also one of the reasons why he’s able to spend hours on the platform.

“Lately I’ve been tuning into lofi music playlists. I like listening to them when I am working or have something to think about,” Park said. “When I go back to my six daily mixes, which consist of personally curated songs that are categorized based on different themes, it also shows that I am into lofi music lately and presents more music that I might like based on it.”

Lofi music on Spotify indicates chill music that is usually slow and dreamlike.

Park added that he uses the collaborative playlist feature on the platform often with his colleagues when working from home and enjoy each other’s music tastes.
In The K-Indie: Spotify’s ”In The K-Indie“ playlist cover features Korean musician Youra (Spotify) In The K-Indie: Spotify’s ”In The K-Indie“ playlist cover features Korean musician Youra (Spotify)

“Collaborative Playlist feature makes it possible for several users to jointly create one playlist,” Park said. “So when we are working together through video conference, we all create a playlist together and play it while working.”

The head of Spotify Korea also went on to explain how the platform can provide an environment for local artists to branch out to overseas markets.

One example was Spotify’s promotion of Korean hip-hop boy band Epik High’s new album release on a Times Square billboard in New York City at the end of January.

“We are a global company so we promote artists from different countries through both online and offline channels. This promotion was one of them,” Park said.

Spotify also has different playlists like “RADAR Korea” and ”In The K-Indie,” which introduces new Korean artists from different genres to Spotify’s global users, Park said.

Now that the company has officially established a base in the Korean market, Spotify plans on conducting various promotion campaigns with local artists this year, he said.

With its launch, Spotify Korea introduced two pricing plans – Premium Individual that costs 10,900 won ($9.80) per month for one subscriber and Duo, which costs 16,350 won ($16.70), which offers two separate Premium accounts on one bill.

As to why Spotify’s free plan for listeners who do not want to pay for ad-free service is not available in Korea, Park said the company considered the market situation in Korea.

“In every country we enter, we first take into consideration market specificities and are required to align with the local industry,” he said.

Listeners in Korea can try out Spotify’s premium service free for seven days on their mobile phones. Those who provide their credit card information can enjoy premium services for three months free of charge. These free trials will be available through the end of June.

Before joining Spotify, Park worked as the general manager at UberEats Korea, leading its diversification and expansion here. After graduating from Korea University in 2003 with a degree in communications and journalism, he also worked for multiple content creation firms, including YouTube Korea and CJ Entertainment.

By Song Seung-hyun (