ByteDance is channeling additional resources into its music streaming business, elevating it to the same level of importance as other key arms like video games and edtech. To make it official, former TikTok boss and ByteDance VP of product and strategy Alex Zhu has been involved with the vertical and is directing ByteDance’s Resso music streaming app, according to a report by 36Kr.
Resso is one of ByteDance’s global app offerings. It competes with Spotify, YouTube Music, and Tencent’s Joox, and was named as one of Android’s “best apps” in the Google Play Store’s “fun” category in December 2020. The app was also Google’s “Best of 2020 User’s Choice” winner in Brazil. Resso is currently available in Indonesia, India, and Brazil.
ByteDance has already left its imprint on the global music entertainment industry—chiefly through TikTok, which has become a hitmaker for catchy pop and rap tunes. Entertainers like Lil Nas X, Megan Thee Stallion, and Olivia Rodrigo have landed hits on the app and cultivated massive fan bases after their tracks went viral.
Even before ByteDance consolidated its music streaming business under Resso, the company sealed licensing deals with Sony Music, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group through TikTok and its sibling in China, Douyin, to use recorded music from artists at these labels—with hefty fees to match—on the two short video platforms. Resso presents an additional channel for capitalizing on this trove of audio content.
Former TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer had outlined a global music streaming strategy for the company last year, according to 36Kr, but those plans were put on the back burner after his departure in August 2020. Mayer then joined Warner’s parent company, Access Industries, as an adviser.
Alex Zhu is known to have established teen-focused karaoke app Musical.ly, which was acquired by ByteDance for as much as USD 1 billion in November 2017 and absorbed as part of TikTok in August 2018. He became heavily involved with Resso’s product design and development as early as March, a person familiar with the matter told 36Kr.
“Alex is ambitious about the product,” the person said, adding that Zhu has “convinced himself that Resso has the chance to be the next TikTok.”
Several changes have taken place within ByteDance’s leadership structure this year. In March, for ByteDance China, Kelly Zhang was appointed as CEO, and Zhang Lidong became chairman. In May, Shouzi Chew was named as TikTok’s head, then Zhang Yiming said later in the same month that he will step down as CEO and transition to an advisory role for the company he co-founded, with co-founder Liang Rubo to take up the reins.
At the time of publication, ByteDance has not responded to KrASIA for a comment on the matter.