TikTok parent company ByteDance filed a trademark application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May for a service called “TikTok Music.” First spotted by Business Insider, the filing indicates that the trademark could be applied to a mobile app that would allow users to purchase, play, share and download music.
The short-form video app is already a popular tool for discovering music, and oftentimes can lead to songs rising in popularity after they're used in viral videos and trends. A report released by the company last year suggested that 175 songs that trended on the short video platform ended up on the Billboard 100 chart. In addition, a recent report published by a U.K.-based music investor suggested that songs that are popular on TikTok drive additional views on YouTube and streams on other platforms, like Spotify.
While TikTok drives these songs to be popular, it doesn't have its own music streaming platform — at least in the U.S. — to make money from them. Instead, users turn to popular services like Spotify or Apple Music to play their favorite TikTok songs. However, TikTok's parent company ByteDance operates a music streaming service called Resso in India, Brazil, and Indonesia, and we understand it had previously considered bringing this service to more markets.
A former ByteDance employee told TechCrunch the company had weighed launching Resso to various global markets under a “TikTok Music” moniker, in fact. Specifically, it had been considering launches in mature markets like the U.K. and Australia, the source said.
Resso's app could be a viable threat to existing U.S. streamers given its close ties to TikTok and its social networking aspects. Currently, Resso offers a TikTok-like user interface where users can skip through the songs by scrolling up and down. It also has the option to comment on songs and albums, and edit the cover of users' playlists — similar to what the TikTok Music trademark suggests.
The app has seen solid progress in its existing markets, mobile data indicates. According to analytics firm SensorTower, the company saw 42.3 million downloads from the App Store and Google Play from January to May this year — growth of 19% year-over-year for the same period. The music streaming app has had 184 million lifetime downloads overall.
ByteDance's filing lists numerous use cases for the TikTok Music trademark. One use case listed in the filing for “TikTok Music” includes an app that would allow users to live stream audio and video, along with the option to “edit and upload photographs as the cover of playlists.” The app would also allow users to leave comments on music, songs, and albums, according to the filing. Another use case suggests that the service could be used to “live stream audio and video interactive media programming in the field of entertainment, fashion, sports, and current events.” The filing also suggests the app could be used to “provide users with podcast and radio broadcast content.” The addition of podcast content alongside music would make TikTok Music an even bigger competitor to Apple Music and Spotify.
The news of TikTok's potential upcoming music streaming service comes as the company launched its own music marketing and distribution platform, SoundOn, a few months ago to help more artists get their music heard. The platform allows artists to upload their music directly to TikTok and Resso, in addition to global streaming platforms including Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, and Tencent’s Joox. With the launch of its own music streaming service alongside SoundOn, TikTok would be able to offer a complete solution for both listeners and artists in the U.S.
TikTok has dominated the short-form video market and was the first non-Meta app to app to reach three billion downloads globally, according to Sensor Tower. Its growth has caused the likes of Instagram and YouTube to reconsider their platforms and business approaches due to the threat they face from the short-form video app. That makes its plans to enter the music streaming space a potential threat to incumbents.
Still, it's worth noting TikTok hasn't proved to be successful in translating all its services to new markets. The company, for example, recently shuttered its Shopping service in the U.K. after a disastrous launch and employee walk-out. TikTok's U.K. employees had alleged a toxic work culture and employment law violations. This could set back plans to bring other services — including Resso, a service run by the Chinese tech giant ByteDance — to the U.S. or other regions.
ByteDance and TikTok did not respond to TechCrunch's request for comment.