ByteDance takes on Tencent Music and NetEase’s Cloud Music by launching the algorithm-based music streaming app Soda

March 16, 2022 0 Comments

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has launched a new music streaming app called Soda in a rivalry with Tencent’s QQ Music and NetEase’s Cloud Music.

One key feature differentiates the new app from its competition – an algorithm recommending new songs and popular tracks to relevantly selected users, a version of which is also used by the global top short video app TikTok and its domestic version – Douyin. The app’s technical team is based in Shanghai and consists of former NetEase Cloud Music, Ximalaya (a podcast app), and Resso (an overseas music streaming app) employees.

Soda’s layout is similar to the one of ByteDance’s Resso – users are able to comment, swipe up and down on their display to switch songs, and create short original videos using music clips.

In March 2020, ByteDance launched its first independent music streaming app Resso targeting overseas markets such as Indonesia, India, and Brazil. According to data from the market tracker, Resso was the most downloaded music app on Google Play as of Friday noon.

In July 2021, Bytedance relabelled its music streaming sector as a high-priority business, raising it to the same level of importance as the online games and edtech ones. The business was restructured when China’s State Administration for Market Regulation ended the exclusive deals signed between Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) and some of the world’s biggest music labels like Sony Music Universal Music.

Following the change, the company appointed Alex Zhu to lead the business with a primary focus on Resso, which aims to compete with apps like Spotify and Apple Music.

Alex Zhu is a former TikTok chief executive and vice president of Bytedance’s product and strategy department. He played a pivotal role in creating the viral app.

In 2014, he co-founded – a US-based lip-syncing app that Bytedance acquired for USD1 billion in 2016. Zhu was given a leadership position at TikTok after the app merged with in 2018.

Last week, ByteDance launched a music sharing platform called SoundOn for artists to market their work to TikTokers, which has had more than 1 billion monthly active users as of September 2021. 

SoundOn allows artists to upload their music directly to TikTok and other platforms, including Apple Music, Tencent’s Joox, and Spotify.

Thanks to Douyin and TikTok, Bytedance has built up rich musical resources in connection to intellectual properties, influencers, and marketing channels. TikTok has already signed a licensing deal with Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music, and Universal Music which allows the app’s content creators to use their artists’ song for creative purposes.

Tiktok and Douyin have grown to be some of the most significant music markets. An increasing amount of popular sings become hits in the first place thanks to the apps’ algorithms, which identify the songs’ genres and suggest them to relevantly selected users. As a result, more and more artists choose Tiktok and Douyin for their new songs’ debuts in the hopes of turning them into the next viral hit.

According to the Chinese consulting firm iResearch Consulting Group, the size of the online music services sector in China has tripled since 2017, and has reached roughly 11 billion yuan in 2021. It is expected to grow to more than 200 billion RMB in 2023.

This sort of growth potential is too lucrative to overlook, and ByteDance’s decision to make inroads into the sector in a bid to capitalize on this potential is definitely not surprising.

Photo by Sidral Mundet on Unsplash

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