March opened with the unfortunate news that the licensing agreement between Spotify and KakaoM expired. For K-Pop fans this meant that a long list of Korean artists had their songs and albums pulled from Spotify.
Thankfully, there are other music streaming services where we can listen to K-Pop songs in the Philippines. These are Deezer, YouTube Music, well… and Apple Music.
Deezer and YouTube Music are more easily accessible out of the alternatives, but not without downsides, which I’ll get through as we go. More so, you can log in using Facebook or Google. Apple Music, while available in the Philippines, only has a 3-month free trial. Afterwhich, you will have to pay monthly even to stream music.
Before I get started, I’d like to clear out that this isn’t an ad for any of them, it is merely a K-Pop fan looking for alternatives to listen to the songs that were pulled from [my beloved] Spotify. I also decided to limit my library comparison to the artists that I listen to.
YouTube Music has a wide library of songs from different artists, including those from KakaoM. The streaming service had the most albums available for MONSTA X, IU, Seventeen, and MAMAMOO. For Dreamcatcher, it isn’t as much as Deezer but still more than Spotify and Apple Music.
In addition to the studio versions of songs, you also have access to all the live performances uploaded on YouTube. This is perhaps the biggest ace of YouTube Music.
Its UI is based on YouTube [I mean… what can we expect] which all boils down to your preference. I personally don’t mind it because I use the YouTube app quite a lot.
One thing I enjoyed is being able to skip songs as much as I wanted to. In addition, you’re able to play specific songs in albums and pre-made playlists.
The biggest downside of YouTube Music though is that the free version of the mobile app won’t continue playing when you close it or the phone itself. Because of this, I found myself using YouTube music only on desktop.
The library of songs Deezer offers sometimes goes beyond what Spotify has to offer post-KakaoM agreement expiration but for the most part, it has roughly the same that Spotify has to offer. An example of this is MONSTA X where you can find albums only from 2018 and later. It, however, makes up by having the most albums from Dreamcatcher which puts a smile on my face.
The UI of Deezer is clean, I would say, better than Spotify. Deezer already has features like lyrics and a sleep timer, which comes in handy for those that play music to sleep.
It also gives you the freedom to pick which specific song to play in a playlist. Some limitations of the free version though are that it doesn’t let you pick out a specific song to play in a specific album and limits how many songs you can skip.
The biggest downside for me as far as Deezer goes is that its desktop app is very buggy. I, for one, couldn’t get past one song and even looked up some of the fixes for this. Because of this, I used Deezer solely on mobile.
One big up for me is that Deezer has a Deezer HiFi Premium plan which gets you 16-bit FLAC quality audio along with the other typical premium features.
Lastly, Apple Music which as I mentioned requires a subscription after the three month trial runs out.
I think Apple Music has the most you’ll have to go through especially if, like me, you’re someone who doesn’t have an Apple device. You’ll first have to make an Apple account, unlike the earlier two which you can connect to your Facebook. After which, you’ll have to connect your credit card in order to avail of the free trial.
As far as the music library goes, it depends on the artist. Apple Music is at par with YouTube Music as far as MONSTA X and MAMAMOO albums go but for IU it isn’t quite as impressive as the two alternatives.
Apple Music, being an Apple service, its quality is unquestionable. There’s the web version, iTunes, and mobile app which are all easy to navigate and look gorgeous. There’s also the Radio feature which is just a nice additional feature to have. However, the mobile app doesn’t have a sleep timer which is a feature you’d think Apple would include.
It’s not the end of the world for K-Pop fans after hundreds of [amazing] K-Pop songs being pulled from Spotify thanks to other streaming services.
Each streaming service has its own pros and cons especially in terms of the songs available and it’ll be up to you to choose which suits your preference.
I hope that KakaoM and Spotify once again come to an agreement just so I can listen to all the K-Pop in one place. It’s just convenient that way.