ByteDance is incubating a music app to take another crack at social networking in China

Yinyuebang may also be ByteDance’s solution to acquiring rights to new music.

Photo: Shutterstock

Beijing-based ByteDance, the app factory behind TikTok and Douyin, is developing a music app called Yinyuebang, 36Kr reported on Monday.

(A music education app of the same name developed by a different company is currently available for iOS users.)

One individual that has seen the source code for Yinyuebang told 36Kr that the app will have a social networking feature. A separate source close to ByteDance told 36Kr that the company has two goals behind this new app — to gain copyright for more tracks by supporting musicians in creating and distributing their work on the new platform, and to tap China’s social networking sector by connecting musicians and music lovers.

ByteDance bought popular lip-sync platform Musical.ly in a deal valued at up to USD 1 billion in late 2017 and migrated its users to Douyin, the domestic version of TikTok. This investment gave ByteDance one year of access to copyrighted music, from multinational companies such as Sony and Universal Music Group, giving TikTok the means to quickly gain popularity in markets outside of the Chinese mainland.

However, as TikTok has found a large user base around the world, companies that hold the rights to music are demanding higher usage fees from ByteDance.

To diversify its sources for copyrighted music, ByteDance has also teamed up with China-based independent music company Modern Sky and Japanese music company Avex, said 36Kr.

The Chinese company has also bought some assets of London-based Jukedeck, which has in-house software that composes music autonomously.

ByteDance’s attempts to challenge the dominance of Tencent’s WeChat in the social networking sector has not moved the needle. This year, the company released Duoshan, a video-based socializing app, as well as Feiliao (also known as Flipchat), a messaging app that also has interest-based forums, but they have failed to gain significant traction.

Yinyuebang could represent ByteDance’s next attempt to crack China’s social media scene.

Yinyuebang’s website was online on Monday morning, hosting 26 songs that ByteDance holds the copyright to, but it has since been taken offline.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company.