Earlier this month, we reported on Resso, the new music-streaming app that TikTok’s parent company Bytedance is testing in India and Indonesia. We asked journalist Amit Gurbaxani, who has written regularly for Music Ally about the music industry in India, to try the app and offer his first impressions.
“The most distinct thing about Resso, TikTok owner Bytedance’s six-month-old music streaming app, is the level of interactivity. This may provide it an edge over local services such as Gaana, which already let you ‘enjoy your music with real-time lyrics’ – the feature Resso advertises prominently on the App Store.
On Resso, new users need to log in with their Facebook or Google details. As with most other platforms in India, you’ve to choose between languages rather than genres when asked, ‘What music do you like?’ Currently, the options include English, Hindi, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi.
I chose English and Hindi and was prompted to pick three artists from an initial list of 45. They ranged from pop stars Camila Cabello and Ed Sheeran and electronic music producers Alan Walker and Marshmello to rock bands Imagine Dragons and Coldplay and rappers Lil Nas X and J. Cole, as well as Bollywood composers and singers Amit Trivedi and Neha Kakkar and Indian independent acts Prateek Kuhad and Naezy.
The list suggests that Resso is working towards deals with all three international majors as well as Indian labels such as T-Series.
[Editor’s note: Bloomberg claimed earlier this month that Resso had yet to sign deals with the three global majors. Some of the western artists above have their music on Resso already, including Cabello, Walker and Lil Nas X, but others are still missing from the service itself, even if they’re being used as part of its onboarding process.]
When playing a song, you can download it, add it to a playlist, hide it, ‘view queue’ (see the list of tracks that have been programmed after it), and set a sleep timer that will stop the music after ten, 20, 30, 60 or 90 minutes. In other words, all the things you can do on other apps.
Like on Gaana, the lyrics are automatically shown on the screen as you stream the track, albeit in a much larger font size. An additional feature called ‘Feedback lyrics’ lets you correct words that are unsynchronised or wrong and add lyrics if they’re missing.
Along with liking a song, you can share it and its lyrics. The lyrics-card sharing feature allows you to add more lines of the text, choose fonts and change the backgrounds from a selection of images tagged Mood (shots of mostly Caucasian people doing things), Hot (couples making out), Tune (people strumming guitars and performing live) and Scene (skies, trees, roads and seas). Notably, the abilities to share lyrics cards and pick their backgrounds are also available on Gaana.
The difference here is you can comment about the song, which turns Resso into part social-media tool, and you can create and share ‘vibes’, which is where the app resembles TikTok. A vibe is a gif, image or video clip that automatically runs in the background when you stream a tune.
Examples include an animation of anthropomorphised tigers dancing to Kuhad’s ‘Yeh Pal’ and an illustration of a cat sipping a glass of red wine for Alanis Morissette’s ‘Reasons I Drink’. One can ‘report vibes’ by tagging them as explicit, politically sensitive, ‘illegal and crimes’, plagiarism, spamming ads and ‘others (cyberbully, disturbing content, etc.)’
Among the unique things I noticed on Resso was a notification that asked, ‘Using cellular data, continue to play?’ when Wi-Fi was switched off on my phone. This seems to have been incorporated keeping in mind Indian customers, the majority of who are careful about their data consumption.
The Discover section presents a range of genres such as Chill, Bollywood and Indie; an Editor’s Pick of the user-generated playlists; New Albums (which includes singles); and charts such as the Resso Top 30, New Release Hot 30, Chill Top 30, New India Top 20, Hindi Top 20, English Top 20, Punjabi Top 20 and Desi Hip-Hop Top 20 that are updated daily.
Unlike charts on other music streaming apps, which tend to be dominated by Bollywood and international hits, the Resso Top 30 is a real mixed bag with everything from Hindi and regional-language pop to international EDM and hip-hop and even some Indian independent music. This week it includes tunes as wide ranging as Punjabi pop star Harrdy Sandhu’s ‘Dance Like’ and indie electro-pop duo Parekh & Singh’s ‘Drum Machine’.
Meanwhile, among the most popular playlists are EDM at Night, Hindi Soulful Solos and Me With My Broken Heart. Each is accompanied with a description comprising three adjectives. For instance, EDM At Night is labeled ‘chill, happy, excited’. For now, there are no podcasts on Resso.
At present, Resso is offering a 14-day free trial, which can be extended to 30 days. The premium subscription, priced at Rs99 per month for Android and Rs119 per month for iOS users lets you download music, listen without ads, and hear tracks in high-quality audio.
That price point is higher than some of its competitors that are advertising heavily discounted annual subscriptions at the moment. But it’s early days, as they say, for Resso and we predict it will add more video content in the future.
TikTok is one of the biggest generators of streams for YouTube in India. Surely, ByteDance will want to direct most of those plays its way.”