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ByteDance dreams of being a music industry giant

(ETX Daily Up) – Nothing seems to be stopping ByteDance anymore. Six years after launching TikTok, the Chinese start-up is stepping up its efforts to become one of the music heavyweights. She has even just launched her own streaming service in the Middle Kingdom. Decryption.

Artists, producers and streaming giants agree on one thing: TikTok is setting the pace in the music industry. In just a few years, the social network has established itself as a true prescriber of trends among young people. Nearly 430 songs surpassed one billion views on the flagship teen platform in 2021, three times more than the previous year. This phenomenon is making headlines for TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. The group of Zhang Yiming and Liang Rubo would have reached a turnover of 58 billion dollars (53 billion euros) last year, according to Reuters, citing internal sources. The recipe for its success? Innovation, especially in the music industry.

ByteDance has launched a new streaming service in China, called Qishui Yinyue (mandarin soda music). It works the same way as Resso, the streaming application that the Chinese group launched in 2020 in India and other Asian countries. Qishui Yinyue recommends songs to listen to based on the preferences of each of its subscribers and those of other users who share their musical tastes. “Qishui Yinyue is an app built on the continuous efforts of Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok, editor’s note) in the field of music,” a Douyin representative told the South China Morning Post. “Douyin launched it as a standalone app to better serve our users as well as artists in the music industry.”

Qishui Yinyue is currently in the test phase in China, which does not prevent it from being in the list of the most downloaded music listening applications in the Middle Kingdom. However, competition is fierce in this market, which is particularly coveted by the giants of the sector. In appearance, China has all the El Dorado for the music industry. The country has more than 1.4 billion inhabitants, who seem to particularly appreciate the fourth art. Chinese people spend, on average, 22 hours and 9 minutes a week listening to music, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. They devoted only 17 hours and 7 minutes per week to this activity in 2019. Most listen to music through streaming platforms such as QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music from the giant Tencent Music or NetEase Cloud Music from its competitor NetEase.

Despite this battle of giants, ByteDance intends to carve out the lion’s share with Qishui Yinyue. Everything suggests that the context is favorable to him. The Chinese authorities have been engaged for more than a year in a fight against uncompetitive practices in the country. This anti-monopoly policy has prompted Tencent Music to terminate all of its exclusivity agreements with record companies, which could allow ByteDance to take over (part of) the music market in China.

TikTok, talent booster

This is not the only ambition of the Chinese group. He also wants to increase the influence of TikTok, his flagship product which has become “the most popular site in the world” according to Cloudfare. The company recently announced the launch of SoundOn, the social network’s own distribution platform. This tool notably offers the possibility for emerging artists to make their songs accessible on streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and even Resso. But SoundOn’s real selling point is that the platform allows them to monetize their music directly on TikTok. The social network is committed to donating all of the royalties generated to young talents during their first year of use of SoundOn, and 90% thereafter.

For Ole Obermann, global head of music at TikTok, this new distribution and promotion tool is a continuation of the platform’s role as a talent scout. “Young artists and music creators are a vibrant community within TikTok and SoundOn is designed to support them in the early stages of their careers. Our teams will guide them on their journey to stardom and provide them with the expertise and the power of TikTok,” he said in a statement. “We are incredibly excited to see how this will nurture and propel new talent and how SoundOn will contribute to an increasingly diverse and growing global music industry.”

At the moment SoundOn is only available in the US, UK, Brazil and Indonesia. It’s a safe bet that TikTok will extend this offer to other territories in the coming months, and in particular to markets that Spotify and the other music streaming giants are struggling to penetrate. For TikTok, and its parent company ByteDance, the “la” is given.

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