After its stupendous success with TikTok, ByteDance now wants to expand its footprint in India’s booming music streaming market as well with a new app called Resso. The Chinese social media giant, valued at over $70 billion, hopes to replicate TikTok’s success with Resso, pitched as the world’s first social music streaming app. The new music streaming app has been in testing for a few months in the country before it went live on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store today.
“There was a gap between social networking and music streaming,” Hari Nair, Head of music content and partnership, Resso India, told indianexpress.com. “And I think Resso tries to cover that gap.”
While Resso is primarily a music streaming app, the social element only makes the app more appealing to young consumers and teenagers, which Nair says is the target audience of Resso. TikTok, again, is targeted at the same demography that has helped the short video platform surpass even Facebook and Instagram in popularity in India.
“The product [Resso] was in development for quite some time. The app was designed for young consumers… how they want to interact, how they can be more creative or how they can be more social. I think that’s the genesis of the product on how we can bring a differentiated product experience into the music app,” he said.
Nair, who was previously with Sony Music Entertainment, says the social element makes Resso different from other music streaming apps. He highlights one such feature called “Vibes”, where users can upload any visual or video that can be attached to a song which then can be shared with friends and family. The feature reminds one of TikTok, where users can choose a popular song from the library and then make a clip of you dancing, lip-syncing or acting out while the tune is playing in the background.
Resso also allows users to comment on a song, which he says is missing on other rival music streaming apps.“When you comment on a song, you can also see who are the people liking the song. So once you know that person is liking the song, you can also connect with him, follow him and follow his playlist. This way you can create your own music community on the app,” he explains.
The music app has another feature, where users can select the lyrics, select the background and put a font to it and then share it on social media. All three features, according to Nair, are core to the Resso app.
While the emphasis on the social element is clearly visible in the app, Nair said they are taking the help of AI and algorithms to discover and recommend music and make the whole music listening experience more personalised. “With the help of AI, the app will learn what music you are listening to and then automatically suggest or recommend the music. It will evolve,” he said.
But Nair doesn’t think that algorithms can replace human curators. In fact, there is a dedicated team of human creators within Resso for each genre and every language of music the app currently supports.
Nair also understands that music catalogue plays a huge role in deciding whether consumers are even willing to jump onto new music streaming app. Without revealing the numbers, Nair said their music catalogue runs into millions. The company has inked deals with major international, local and independent labels such as Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, T-Series, Saregama, Zee Music, YRF, Tips, Venus, Shemaroo, Speed Records and Anand Audio, among others.
With Resso, Nair also wants to create an avenue for indie musicians to popularise their music. “We are going out and talking to each and every independent music label. All the independent artists who want to work with us [Resso], have their own company or their names, we can directly tie with them. We are going all out and getting the independent artists first, its number one priority for us,” he said.
Resso is free to download for the basic version, but users have to pay a monthly premium of Rs 99 on Android and Rs 119 on iOS. This version includes features such as downloadable music, unlimited skips, and high-definition music playback.
Nair has not set any targets in terms of downloads – after all, Resso comes at a time when the competition in the music streaming app is at the peak. On one hand, there is Apple Music which is targeting niche users and on the other hand Resso is getting competition from Spotify. Home-grown players like Gaana and JioSaavn could become even bigger threats to Resso in the long run.
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“We don’t have any targets right now. The first objective is to get as many users onto the platform,” Nair said, adding that “we want to change the behaviour of Gen-Z from passive to active listening.”
But what Resso is missing right now is podcasts, something Nair admits. Be it Apple Music, Spotify or JioSaavn, every major music streaming app is keen to have a huge library of podcasts users can listen to. Analysts say podcasts could be a huge advertising opportunity for Spotify, the world’s most popular music streaming app.
“I can’t talk about podcasts right now. But it’s a good feature to have,” he said.
Resso is launching first in India, and it shows the importance of the market for ByteDance. Nair made it clear that Resso will be operated independently and it has no link to TikTok. Resso will be operated from Los Angeles, Mumbai, Singapore, and Indonesia.
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