Beijing-based ByteDance Inc., TikTok’s parent company, is targeting the music streaming market in Indian with Resso, its new app, the Economic Times reported. The app, that is currently in Beta stage, and is being tested in India and Indonesia, Asia’s most populous countries. It has been downloaded more than 100,000 times on Android devices, according to their Google Play webpage. However, Resso’s app pages on both Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store don’t mention ByteDance as its developer; they mention Moon Video Inc. Resso’s website also does not mention its association with ByteDance. Bytedance did not respond to our repeated queries regarding these developments.
When we tested the app, we saw some of its features:
- Letting users post their comments on individual songs which all other users can also read
- Generate music-accompanied GIFs and videos
- Linking to Instagram and letting users can share content directly to their Instagram accounts
According to Bloomberg, although Resso has signed deals with Indian labels such as T-Series and Times Music, it is yet to expand with global players like Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group Corp., and Sony Music Entertainment, the three biggest music companies in the world. “Resso is also relying on video content, but it doesn’t have the rights to show all the music videos that you can find on YouTube Music”, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
Resso’s monthly subscription is on the higher end of the spectrum: A monthly subscription to Resso costs ₹119 which is the same as a Spotify subscription. If users don’t purchase a subscription, music is played with ads, like on Spotify. Apple Music costs ₹99/month for an individual plan whereas Gaana costs ₹99/month for a “Gaana + Zee5” subscription. According to Bloomberg, apps like Apple Music, YouTube Music, Amazon Prime Music, Spotify, Gaana and JioSaavn “have drastically slashed their monthly subscriptions and are testing weekly as well as daily plans for the users”.
ByteDance’s expansion in India amidst controversies: Resso’s introduction to the Indian market comes at a time when ByteDance’s most popular app, TikTok, which has been installed more than 500 million times on Android devices since its release in 2017, continues to face intense public and legal scrutiny in India:
- In December 2019, TikTok’s transparency report revealed that the Indian government and law enforcement agencies had made the highest number of requests for user information and content takedowns on the app.
- In July 2019, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an RSS affiliate, had written to the Prime Minister, asking the government to consider banning the app, citing its supposed proximity to the Chinese government. In response, MeitY had issued Tiktok a notice asking them to respond to concerns about the app committing unlawful activities. TikTok had claimed safe harbour in its response to MeitY.
- Earlier in July 2019, Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor had also highlighted reports of Tiktok releasing data to the Chinese Government, and called it a “national security issue” during the Lok Sabha Zero Hour.
- In April 2019, the Madras High Court had imposed a temporary ban on Tiktok on the grounds that the app affected users’ mental health and exposing children to sexual predators, among other allegations.