India was music to ByteDance’s ears until it wasn’t. The Chinese internet behemoth, which witnessed deafening popularity in India with its short video app TikTok before it got muted muted The New York Times India Bans Nearly 60 Chinese Apps, Including TikTok and WeChat Read more  in 2020, now continues to operate in the country with a once-insignificant ace up its sleeve. 

Resso is a little-known music-streaming service in India riding on the familiarity of a TikTok-like experience. The two-year-old app is also ByteDance’s last remaining content-serving platform, and possibly its last chance to have a foot in the country’s door. 

Since surviving the wide ban that got Tiktok and ByteDance’s social-media platform Helo, Resso has kept a low profile. In February 2022, as the Indian government expanded expanded Reuters India adds 54 more Chinese apps to ban list; Sea says it complies with laws Read more  the ban to another 54 Chinese apps, Resso’s Instagram page—which has over twenty thousand followers—quietly and suddenly stopped posting content. It still remains dormant.

But laying low is getting increasingly difficult, as Resso is disrupting the music-streaming ecosystem. After the Swedish audio app Spotify, Resso saw the most user sessions user sessions User session A session is counted whenever someone opens the app to the foreground on their phone, according to data.ai —an important indicator of engagement for both subscriptions and advertisements—among music-streaming services in the country in 2021, according to analytics firm data.ai. A year ago, it wasn’t even in the Top 10.

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When it was launched in March 2020, Resso was meant to be just one piece in a ByteDance ecosystem that “wanted to shape culture itself”, a former ByteDance executive told The Ken. It was also to be built on the learnings of TikTok India, where music was “at the centre of product thinking”, according to a former TikTok executive.

At the time of the TikTok ban in 2020, Resso was just four months old and wasn’t even among the top 15 music apps in terms of monthly users. In contrast, India reportedly accounted for a third of TikTok’s global user base at that time. 

Naturally, Resso, which operated in India through another group company, Moon Video Inc, based in the British Virgin Islands since 2019, was an unlikely heir to ByteDance’s crown jewel then.