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TikTok owner plotting music service launch for this autumn

By | Published on Tuesday 21 May 2019


ByteDance, the Chinese owner of much talked about video app TikTok, has been very busy of late expanding its range of apps in order to compete ever more fiercely with rival Chinese tech firm Tencent. Which therefore makes reports that it is now preparing to launch a streaming music service somewhat unsurprising.

According to Bloomberg, ByteDance plans to launch its new music service – which was first reported in the Chinese press last month – in a number of emerging markets later this year. Deals are reportedly already in place with two key rights owners in the Indian market, T-Series and Times Music. And although the music app will have its own brand, sources have confirmed that the company intends to utilise its massive TikTok audience to promote it.

TikTok has become a big talking point in the music community this year, of course, following a big worldwide marketing push from ByteDance and all the chatter around how Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ initially became a global phenomenon via the platform. ByteDance also previously acquired and then merged into TikTok another video app that was a big talking point in the music industry for a while, that being

Quite when and where ByteDance’s new music service will go live is not yet clear, though an autumn launch is being mooted, and it’s thought that the company is keen to try and push subscriptions, rather than relying solely on advertising for income.

India seems like a priority, though that market is already becoming crowded, with Spotify and Apple trying to take on the more established local services JioSaavn and Gaana. In ByteDance’s home market of China, the Tencent-owned streaming services like QQ Music still dominate, with NetEase Cloud Music the main other contender.

Bloomberg’s sources say that ByteDance is yet to secure deals from the three majors. And while the global music companies are not so dominant in many of the markets the Chinese firm seems to be prioritising, getting Sony, Universal and Warner on board will probably be necessary anyway, certainly if global expansion is on the agenda.

A focus on driving premium subscriptions in emerging markets, rather than pushing ad-funded freebie streaming, will certainly be welcomed by the majors, who also want more players in the streaming market in general. Though that won’t stop them from driving a hard bargain, especially given deals to date with Chinese tech firms have usually involved significant advance cheques.