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Momo challenges ByteDance and Alibaba with new karaoke app

Chinese internet companies want to attract users with a combination of music and social features.

credit: DFIC

China’s biggest dating service provider Momo has recently released a new karaoke app, vying for a share in China’s hot music social sector filled by competitors like ByteDance, Tencent, Alibaba, and NetEase, local media New Business Trend reported.

The newborn singing social app named Zhiyin (same pronunciation as the word “soulmate” in Chinese) bets on a feature to lure new users: singing contests in live-streaming rooms. Users can give out gifts to singers, which are traded in Zhiyin coins (ten Zhiyi coins equal to RMB 1, or USD 0.14).

The app also introduced a reward system where listeners can offer virtual coins to “sign” singers and later get a share from singers’ incomes, which could potentially drive revenues to users, encouraging them to sing more in the app.

Zhiyin, developed by Momo—the maker of China’s biggest location-based networking service and the owner of Tinder-like Tantan—is the latest player in the music social arena, where a slew of novel players have emerged to catch younger users.

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance released karaoke app Yinyu (literally meaning “voice meetup”) in September 2018, topping Apple’s App Store charts and garnering nearly one million daily active users in only three months after its release. The app allowed its users to compete against each other to sing the succeeding verse of a song after hearing a short clip, with an AI judge crowning the winner.

However, Yinyu was taken down from the App Store store twice for unspecified reasons in 2019. There were speculations that the app failed to comply with Apple Store’s payment rule and also ran against the country’s increasingly tight content censorship policy, a common challenge in the audio-based social networking segment.

Although Yinyu is currently back, it has seen a string of competitors popping up, including e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Changya (“Sing Duck” in Chinese) and YY Inc’s similar offering Yinfu. Besides, popular karaoke app Changba also added new features like instrument playing, in an effort to keep users active and attract new installs. Even NetEase’s music streaming service NetEase Cloud Music is exploring this niche market by presenting a new function, dubbed “Cloud Village,” which lets users post music blogs on the platform.

ByteDance is also reportedly developing a video-syncing Karaoke mini program for its popular short video app Douyin, KrASIA reported. The upcoming mini app will allow users to sing together with music influencers on the platform through pre-recorded music videos, although it is unclear yet when Douchang will be released officially.

It seems that the music social sector will witness a tit-for-tat war where it will be hard to predict which player will win over youngsters’ hearts.