ByteDance’s Music App Is a Growing Threat to Spotify, Data Shows

  • TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, launched the music streaming app Resso in 3 markets in 2020.
  • Resso is now competitive with Spotify in India and Indonesia, new data from Apptopia shows.
  • If Resso expands into more markets, it could turn ByteDance into a meaningful rival to Spotify.

When TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, launched a standalone music


service in India in March 2020, it wasn’t clear whether there would be space for a newcomer in the already crowded audio market.

At launch, the company tried to differentiate itself as a social-music app for Gen Z and millennial users, sponsoring music festivals at universities to push its offering to a youthful crowd.

It added features similar to TikTok’s app, which at the time was already popular with young Indians, allowing users to append short videos (called “vibes”) and comments to songs. And it tailored its content to a younger generation, categorizing music from the 1990s as “retro” in playlists, Gopika Panchmatia, a former programming lead at the company, told Insider.

“Someone born in the year 2000 who is 22 is going to think of 90s music as retro,” Panchmatia said.

Outside of Resso, ByteDance had already established itself as an important player in the music industry. Song trends on TikTok were shaping the Billboard 100 and Spotify Viral 50, and artists and record labels had begun using the app to promote new tracks to the app’s Gen-Z audience. Targeting that same young audience for a standalone music service seemed like a logical next step.

In India, the strategy paid off. Nearly two years after Resso’s arrival in the country, new data shows that ByteDance’s music app is catching up to Spotify and other competitors in the country.

In the past year, Resso has closed in on Spotify’s market share in India in terms of monthly active users (MAUs) when compared against other music streaming apps in the country, according to estimates shared with Insider by the analytics firm Apptopia.

Market share (by MAUs) for 6 music-streaming apps in India between January 2021 and January 2022 (source: Apptopia)

Resso is growing faster than Spotify in India.

The company saw 304% MAU growth between January 2021 and January 2022, compared to Spotify’s 38% MAU growth over the same period, according to data from the app-analytics firm Sensor Tower.

Resso operates in two other markets outside of India: Brazil and Indonesia.

In Indonesia, it’s also catching up to Spotify. Last month, it had an estimated 8.3 million MAUs compared to Spotify’s 9.5 million MAUs in the country, according to Apptopia. As with its rollout in India, the company similarly targeted younger users when it launched in Indonesia.

“When you marry the love for music with habits of Gen Z and millennials, you get Resso,” Tricia Dizon, the country manager for Resso in Indonesia, told Marketing Interactive in March 2020.

But it still trails Spotify in the third market where it operates, Brazil, where Spotify is on top. Apptopia estimated that Resso had around 9 million MAUs compared to Spotify’s roughly 28 million MAUs in the country in January 2022.

Neither Spotify nor Resso is dominant in India, where homegrown brands like JioSaavn and Gaana come pre-installed on user devices across the country. The country can support a multitude of audio streaming platforms due to its large population and wide diversity of languages, music genres, and customer segments.

But Resso’s particular ability to attract young users in India could pose a significant challenge to Spotify down the road. And it potentially previews a battle that could happen in other markets like the US if ByteDance decides to launch a music app.

A group of TikTokers attended Spotify's "Wrapped" party in December, including Christian Plourde and Mads Lewis.

A group of TikTokers attended Spotify’s December “Wrapped” party in Los Angeles. Pictured here: Christian Plourde and Mads Lewis.

Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Spotify.

Why Resso’s popularity with young users could spell trouble for Spotify

Resso’s early success with young users, a demographic that Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told Bloomberg in November it “could be doing better” with, could pose a significant challenge to Spotify should ByteDance look to expand its brand into more markets in 2022.

Spotify noted that ByteDance and TikTok were risk factors for its business in a public filing earlier this month, listing the two companies alongside YouTube and other brands as competitors “for users, user listening time, and advertisers.”

Whether Resso will come after Spotify’s audio subscription revenue in additional markets this year is unknown. ByteDance hasn’t publicly announced expansion plans for 2022, and it’s previously been tight-lipped about where and when it will launch.

Spotify and Resso did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.

But TikTok has already solidified its position as a global hub for music discovery, and it’s easy to see a scenario in which the company could use the app to convert music fans into paying Resso subscribers around the world.

ByteDance followed that exact playbook to grow Resso in Brazil, embedding a button to let TikTok users click into the Resso app when they heard a song they liked, The Information reported. The company had plans to use TikTok as a promotional tool for Resso in India before the app was banned in June 2020 as part of a geopolitical dispute between India and China, two former Resso employees told Insider.

“I think the biggest win [for Resso] is the interactivity of the app and the ease at which it merges with social media, which is why it skews towards a younger population,” Panchmatia, who also worked as a contractor at YouTube Music last year, told Insider. 

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