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TikTok Owner Preparing Streaming Service to Rival Spotify (Report)

Jem Aswad

ByteDance, the Beijing-based owner of the TikTok video app, is developing a paid streaming music service aimed at the same emerging markets that Spotify and Apple are seeking to explore, according to a report in Bloomberg. The app could be introduced as early as autumn, according to the report, which adds that the company has already secured licenses from the large Indian music labels T-Series and Times Music, although it has not yet struck deals with the three major label groups, Sony, Universal and Warner.

Reps at ByteDance did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment.

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While the new app does not share a name with TikTok, Bloomberg’s sources said, the company will attempt to convert some of the app’s users into paying customers. It will “include a catalog of songs available on-demand, as well as video, and isn’t a clone of Spotify or Apple Music,” Bloomberg’s sources said, adding that music industry executives have seen demonstrations of it. ByteDance is hoping to use the app to reduce its dependence on advertising and prove the viability of paid streaming services in emerging markets.

Both Spotify and Apple Music have set their sights squarely on emerging markets, particularly in Asia and Africa, as sources for growth that they hope will lead both streaming services to profitability. Spotify’s Daniel Ek often speaks of the potential in markets that have not yet embraced streaming — albeit potential that adds up to significantly less than paid subscriptions garner in North America and Europe.

Spotify’s recent launch in India was bedeviled by a number of problems, including an already-crowded streaming marketplace in the country (several services were established long before Spotify), still-unresolved licensing issues with Warner Music, and a monthly subscription price of less than $2, significantly less than the $9.99 it charges in much of the world.

Variety will have more on this situation as it develops.

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