Half of APAC listeners use social media for music discovery, a win for TikTok and its music-streaming foray

Photo credit: Olivier Bergeron

At least one in two music listeners in the Asia Pacific region discover new music through social media platforms like TikTok.

That’s according to the latest Music 360 study conducted in the APAC region by US market monitor Luminate (formerly MRC Data / Nielsen Music).

Luminate says that its study shows a particular use of short video clip platforms in aiding music discovery in the region.

Music listeners in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, for example, are nearly twice as likely than US listeners to use short video clip sites and apps like TikTok to discover new music, according to Luminate’s study.

Elsewhere in the study, Luminate reports that APAC music listeners are 39% more likely than US listeners to use video/audio streaming services as a music discovery tool.

In Indonesia, for instance, according to Luminate, “these services are catalysts in unearthing new music” for 77% of listeners in the country.

Luminate also reports that 81% of music listeners in Malaysia use smartphones as their go-to music listening devices in a typical month, yet only 31% of music streamers in Malaysia pay for a streaming subscription.

Luminate’s findings around the discovery of music on social media platforms in APAC highlight the potential for TikTok, the most dominant short-form video platform, to accelerate its push into music streaming.

“We see a particular use of short video clip platforms aiding these listeners in navigating the endless supply of new tracks circling the globe.”


MBW recently discovered a US patent filed by TikTok’s Singapore arm, TikTok Pte. Ltd in May 2018 for a platform where users can download music content, with another sure sign that TikTok is branching further into music streaming coming in the form of a job ad for its ‘TikTok Music’ team in Mountain View, California.

The job ad, spotted by MBW, is for a Backend Software Engineer for TikTok Music as the ByteDance-owned platform aims “to build resonance and inspire expression through music, which includes Resso, TikTok Music and SoundOn”.

Elsewhere in Luminate’s study, the market monitor notes that “the infinite catalog of artists and songs available at our fingertips has revolutionized the way we listen to music, while the influence of social media has played a key role in its globalization”.

Luminate says that “these impacts can be felt most consequently in the Asia-Pacific region”, where streaming services like ByteDance-owned Resso  support social features like personalized broadcasts of listeners’ music habits to others.

Resso, described by Luminate as “a hybrid music listening and sharing application”, is used in Indonesia “by 56% of those aware of the platform” according to the report.

More than just a music-streaming app, Resso describes itself as a “social music streaming app” as it promotes sharing of lyrics, comments and other user-generated content with each other. In contrast, social interactions are limited in the more dominant audio-streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music as they are built solely to play music and podcasts and discover new material.

Resso is available in Brazil, and in Indonesia where users are twice more likely than US listeners to use short video clip apps like TikTok for their music discovery, according to Luminate.

In Indonesia, music streaming apps with more features like personalized playlists and artist information are more appealing to Gen Zs and Millennials. Platforms that have strong integration with social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok are even more attractive to these users, Spire Consultant Faiz Mustin told Indonesia’s TechnoBusiness in February.

Resso launched in India in 2020 and it reportedly secured licenses from Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Beggars Group and Merlin to distribute their music. The platform was excluded from India’s ban on apps with Chinese origins — including TikTok — at the time, and it then became one of the top three music-streaming apps in India behind Spotify and Wynk, surpassing homegrown rivals Gaana and JioSaavn in terms of monthly streams.

However, Resso India is at risk of joining TikTok among the banned apps in India as the company, along with other Chinese apps like mobile shooter game PUBG, have come under government radar, according to local media outlets on July 31.

In India, ranked third among the top grossing music and audio streaming apps and in Indonesia and Brazil, it ranked first, according to data from Sensor Tower.

Resso’s sharp focus on these three markets underscores ByteDance’s strategic expansion approach. As the Chinese company, backed by Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank, has cemented its dominance in the global short video space to become the world’s most valuable startup, ByteDance has started to foray into other revenue sources that can be integrated with its main video app. Its efforts include e-commerce, semiconductor and AI chip production and healthcare, among others, according to reports.

Now, ByteDance may looking to take on Spotify with TikTok Music and Resso. Resso also provides a paid-tier service that offers unlimited skips and ad-free music, similar to Spotify Premium’s offerings.

“At present, Spotify does beat Resso with the number of users, but Resso looks poised to grow with its unique user interface and AI.”

Bhuvana Kamath, Analytics India Magazine

But ByteDance’s high-tech algorithms may well push Resso ahead of Spotify. An analysis by Analytics India Magazine earlier this month pointed out that Resso’s user experience is a step ahead of Spotify’s as it lets users create GiFs, or ‘lyric quotes’ and has a ‘swipe down’ mechanism that contributes to the never-ending loop of infinite scrolling, much like the user experience offered by TikTok.

“At present, Spotify does beat Resso with the number of users, but Resso looks poised to grow with its unique user interface and AI,” Analytics India’s Bhuvana Kamath said.Music Business Worldwide

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