After three months in beta-testing phase, TikTok makers ByteDance officially launched their Resso app in India earlier today, joining a crowded field of streaming services in the country that includes Gaana, JioSaavn, Apple Music and Spotify. However, Resso includes other features: Marrying social media functions with music, Resso’s main features include sharing customizable lyric posters, creating animated visuals for song backgrounds and interacting with other users to encourage a sense of community.
While the company has secured licenses with most major rights-holders, Universal Music Group — the world’s largest music company — is conspicuously missing. Some speculate this may be related to the recent acquisition of 10% of UMG by Tencent, a key ByteDance rival. (Reps for Resso said the company is in negotiations with UMG.)
Although the launch event made no mention of ByteDance or TikTok, Resso was first tested in India and Indonesia as early as May, with a bigger catalogue being added by December. Launched in India now with over 500,000 downloads on the Play Store and 80,000 on the App Store, Resso’s offices are currently located in Mumbai, Los Angeles, Singapore and Indonesia. Hari Nair, head of music content and partnership for Resso India, told Variety that their focus is the 473 million Indians identified as Gen Z. “That’s a huge number to target. I think we’ll first focus on India – that’s the objective right now and see how it goes here and then take things ahead.”
Available for free along with premium subscription options at INR 99 (Android) and INR 119 (iOS), there’s differences in streaming quality, ad-free streaming and downloadable content between free and paid plans.
Unlike Spotify India’s license issues, Resso India says it has inked a deal with Warner Music Group. Other global, regional and independent labels onboard include Sony Music Entertainment, Merlin and Beggars Group, T-Series, Saregama, Zee Music, YRF Music, Times Music, Tips, Venus, Shemaroo and regional majors such as Speed Records, Anand Audio, Lahiri Music, Divo, Muzik 247.
Along with Universal, some of Warner’s catalog isn’t available on the service yet; reps for Resso India said they are gradually gaining access to the music. Nair explained that there are different licenses involved for Resso India, considering it’s not just about a full track streaming license. The Vibes aspect of creating from videos, GIFs and pictures – which can be uploaded by users, sourced from labels or even third-party creative agencies working with Resso – involved a sync license.
Nair explains that these new aspects helped them work out a deal with labels. “They were appreciating that Resso has great new features that no one has thought through. They’re very excited to give us licensing. Some people who are accepting to the technology give us the license very quickly – every one of them has done that. People have had reservations, but they get over that.”
Resso India’s interface allows users to dive deep into music, recommending artists based on the initial selection on signing up, but also offering playlists for moods, genres and subgenres. The social interaction aspect will also open up to giving artists a profile to interact with their followers and create Vibes visual content for their own music, but musicians are yet to claim profiles.
With an eye on building “online communities” and encouraging interaction somewhat similar to TikTok, Resso India is not just targeting moneyed Indians who are willing to shell out for a subscription, but users across class and region in the country’s culturally diverse landscape. Nair adds, “We’ll have a lot of digital promotions focused on all tiers of India.”