MUMBAI — India’s increasingly crowded and competitive audio streaming market has a new contender. On Wednesday (March 4), ByteDance launched Resso, a freemium service aimed at Gen Z that is being marketed as the “world’s first social music streaming app.”
The new service employs distinguishing features like “vibes, comments and lyrics quotes,” which will enable users to “connect, engage and express,” and have been developed keeping in mind Gen Z’s existing behavior on social media, says Hari Nair, the head of music content and partnerships at Resso India. ByteDance launched Resso in India first, Nair tells Billboard, because the country has the highest number of Gen Zers in the world, estimated at “over 470 million,” a figure based on Bloomberg analysis of U.N. data.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, Resso has offices in Mumbai, Indonesia and Singapore. Nair would not disclose which other countries the company plans to roll out the service in next. The app, which has been in the beta testing phase in India and Indonesia since November 2019, has been downloaded over 500,000 times from the Google Play store so far.
In India, Resso will be fighting for an audience that already has a pick of nine other services, from homegrown heavyweights Gaana, JioSaavn and Wynk Music, to global players Spotify, Amazon Prime Music and YouTube Music. A premium monthly subscription on Resso, priced at Rs99 ($1.35) for Android and Rs119 ($1.6) for iOS, allows users to play music without ads in a higher audio quality, and download and skip an unlimited number of tracks.
While the monthly rate is on par with most other services in India, Resso does not currently offer a yearly subscription, which could be a factor in the acquisition of customers in India’s hugely price-sensitive market. An annual subscription to Gaana and JioSaavn presently costs Rs399 ($5.45).
The focus on Gen Z seems inspired by sister company TikTok, which emphasizes short-form, highly shareable video content. However, Nair says that there are no plans for any integrations with the video-sharing app, which boasts more than 200 million users in India.
Vibes are gifs, images or video clips that appear as a backdrop when a song is being streamed on Resso. Users can create and upload their own vibes or select them from the existing user-generated pool.
The lyrics quotes feature allows a user to select and share specific lines of a song, and it offers the option to change the text’s font and the accompanying image. But perhaps Resso’s biggest USP is the ability to comment about tracks within the app, which is thus far unavailable on any of its competing services.
Resso isn’t yet sharing the number of songs, playlists and languages in its catalog, figures that are highlighted in the advertisements of other streaming platforms in India. Nair says the company has deals in place with most Indian and international music labels.
The arrangements are with global majors such as Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group; indies like Merlin and the Beggars Group; Bollywood labels, including T-Series, Saregama, Zee Music and YRF Music; regional Indian language companies such as Speed Records, Anand Audio and Lahiri Music; and Indian independent hip-hop enterprises Azadi Records, IncInk Records, and Big Bang Music. Notably, Resso has yet to sign a licensing agreement with Universal Music Group, in which ByteDance’s rival Tencent has a stake.