TikTok parent Bytedance launches Spotify rival Resso in India… without Universal’s catalog

It’s the Spotify rival that impressed ex-Spotify CFO Barry McCarthy so much, he admitted it was packed with “really clever social features”.

Resso, the music streaming app owned by TikTok parent Bytedance, has today (March 4) publicly launched in India, taking on the likes of SPOT, plus Gaana, JioSaavn and Apple Music in the market.

Resso reportedly launches in India with a split price offering: there’s a free-to-use tier which offers music streaming at 128kbps, while a paid tier is available for Rs 99 ($1.35) per month on Android and Rs 119 ($1.62) per month on iOS. Both paid options offer streaming up to 256kbps with no advertising.

The launch of Resso in India has been licensed by the likes of Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Beggars Group and Merlin, as well as large local India-based rightsholders such as T-Series, Saregama, Zee Music, Times Music and Tips.

Notice a company name missing there? Yup: Universal Music Group.


As TechCrunch points out, UMG is set to sell 10% of its business (possibly up to 20% over the course of time) to Tencent Holdings Ltd, following the completion of a deal at the close of 2019.

Tencent is increasingly being positioned in the media as a direct rival to fellow China-based giant Bytedance. This is particularly true when it comes to Tencent Music Entertainment (TME), which is majority-owned by Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Could this ownership structure have anything to do with UMG holding out on licensing Resso for India? Or is this simply a matter of more basic, value-based licensing matters?

Lest we forget that, according to MBW’s sources, UMG is yet to re-license Spotify globally after its most recent multi-year worldwide agreement with Daniel Ek’s service expired in Q1 2020.


Resso, which initially launched in India and Indonesia on a trial basis at the end of last year, puts a heavy emphasis on social sharing attributes (which is the element of the app which impressed Barry McCarthy last year).

Users can use the app to share snippets of lyrics or entire tracks across a number of social media platforms. They can also comment on tracks they love, while interacting within the platform’s own social media-like communities.

“Resso – it’s the best new platform I have seen since Spotify. I hope the music industry embraces it, and I hope Bytedance doesn’t get turned off by the complexities of getting licenses.”

Fred Davis, Raine Group (speaking last month)

Raine Group partner Fred Davis, who advised Daniel Ek during the early years of Spotify, told MBW last month: “The single most exciting company I deal with today is Bytedance. I have seen [Bytedance’s audio service] Resso – it’s the best new platform I have seen since Spotify. I hope the music industry embraces it, and I hope Bytedance doesn’t get turned off by the complexities of getting licenses.

“The music industry needs another platform to succeed, to me this is absolutely the best one that’s out there and they should embrace it as quickly as they could.”



Bytedance’s TikTok surpassed over 1.5bn to-date downloads worldwide in November last year.

Considering that the app is now being downloaded over 100m times per month, it looks likely that TikTok will surpass 2bn lifetime downloads in Q2 this year.Music Business Worldwide

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