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Tech unicorn ByteDance’s new music-streaming app in China currently provides 10 million tracks. Photo: Shutterstock

TikTok owner ByteDance pushes music-streaming service on mainland to challenge Chinese market leaders Tencent, NetEase

  • New ByteDance app Qishui Yinyue, which translates to ‘soda music’ in Mandarin, was updated on Wednesday after its release last month
  • The tech unicorn’s push into China’s music-streaming market pits it against Tencent Music Entertainment Group and NetEase subsidiary Cloud Village
Tech unicorn ByteDance, operator of widely popular short video-sharing platform TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin, recently launched its own music-streaming app in China, as it seeks to challenge the market-leading platforms run by major units of Tencent Holdings and NetEase.
The app called Qishui Yinyue, which translates to “soda music” in Mandarin, was last updated on Wednesday after its release last month. It operates in a similar way to Resso, the music-streaming app that ByteDance introduced in selected overseas markets in 2019.

“Soda Music is an app built on Douyin’s continuous efforts in music,” a representative of Douyin said in a statement sent via WeChat on Thursday. “Douyin launched it as a stand-alone app to better serve our users as well as artists in the industry.”

The service currently provides more than 10 million music tracks, according to the app’s landing page on Apple’s mainland App Store. It allows Douyin users to sync their favourite music lists on the short video app.

The landing page for ByteDance’s new music-streaming app on Apple’s mainland App Store. Photo: SCMP

Built on ByteDance’s personalisation algorithm, the new music-streaming app recommends songs based on the preference of a subscriber and other like-minded users of the service. It pushes music by genre and displays synchronised lyrics like Resso.

The app, however, remains in its beta phase, which requires an invitation code. It was ranked 20th among all iOS music apps in China on Thursday, according to market researcher, formerly known as App Annie.

ByteDance’s push into China’s music-streaming market, like its move into e-commerce, marks another calculated expansion initiative that seeks to leverage its growing user base on Douyin.
But it remains a tall order for the Beijing-based company, as it goes up against market leader Tencent Music Entertainment Group (TME), operator of popular apps QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music, and No 2 Cloud Village, a NetEase subsidiary.

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Still, ByteDance’s foray into the mainland’s music-streaming market comes at an opportune time when there are no more exclusive music-licensing deals in place.

Last September, TME said it had terminated all exclusive licensing deals with copyright holders in accordance with a government mandate. The State Administration for Market Regulation in July ordered the company to end its exclusive music licensing deals with global record labels.
In recent years, ByteDance has sought to diversify its revenue stream by branching into e-commerce, online education, financial technology and video gaming.

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Although its video gaming efforts have been set back by Beijing’s crackdown on the internet industry, ByteDance continues to focus on its strengths after embarking on a reorganisation last November.
ByteDance, the world’s most valuable start-up, saw its 2021 revenue reach US$58 billion, up 70 per cent from a year earlier, according to a Reuters report, citing two sources. It marks a drop-off in performance for the privately-held company after posting 111 per cent year-on-year revenue growth to US$34.3 billion in 2020.