TikTok could be launching Spotify killer — what we know

TikTok app icon on iPhone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Music is already a huge part of TikTok, thanks to the Musical.ly DNA within and its ability to turn unloved songs into viral hits. But parent company ByteDance appears to have something more ambitious in mind, as trademark filings hint it aims to build a Spotify and Apple Music competitor.

First spotted by Business Insider (opens in new tab), the trademark application (opens in new tab) is for something called “TikTok Music.” Amongst other things, it’s described as “downloadable mobile applications for mobile phones and tablet computers allowing users to purchase, play, share [and] download music.” 

But that’s just part of a long wishlist that covers everything from recommending, sharing and commenting on playlists to podcasting and “a function for karaoke.”

In other words, it seems to have a bit of everything in it. At least in the abstract — it’s possible that what we’ll actually get is something quite a bit more streamlined. 

It’s all very vague, as most trademarks are, but we may have some clues about what TikTok Music could involve by looking beyond the American app stores.

Cover version?

Resso screenshots on Android

(Image credit: Resso / Google Play)

The curious thing about this trademark is that ByteDance already owns a couple of music apps elsewhere in the world. Resso launched in India, Brazil and Indonesia back in 2020, while Qishui Yinyue (“soda music”) launched in China earlier this year (opens in new tab)

By all accounts, the two are quite similar, and provide a more social experience than the legacy streamers. As TechCrunch (opens in new tab) wrote on the launch of Resso, “users are encouraged to share lyrics, comments and other user-generated content with each other, alongside full-length tracks of music that they can consume and share with others.” 

How does that work in practice? The Resso site (opens in new tab) is a bit clearer: “Each song can be interpreted in more ways than one. Check out the videos and gifs others have used to express their favorite music. Add new ones and tell us what your vibe is.”

And just as TikTok wastes no time in hitting you with videos, “the music begins to auto-play as soon as you open the app,” TechCrunch says.

While some of the functionality is mentioned in the trademark, there’s no guarantee that TikTok Music will be identical to these apps, of course. ByteDance may decide that what works culturally for one market may not for another.

But the formula does appear to be working elsewhere, at least. The Information (opens in new tab) claims that Resso had over 40 million monthly users in its three launch countries as of November 2021. And an earlier Business Insider (opens in new tab) report claims that in India, active users grew 304% over the course of that year, easily eclipsing Spotify’s 38% growth.

In other words, while ByteDance’s approach to music consumption may sound like an anathema to those who like to consume music in order, as the artist intended, the runaway success of TikTok and its unorthodox approach to video shows you shouldn’t dismiss the company’s proven ability to disrupt.

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.