TikTok has taken the social-media world by storm with short-form, music-focused videos. Now, it's hoping to have similar success in streaming music.

According to a new report from the Financial Times, TikTok parent company ByteDance is currently holding conversations with major record labels, including Universal Music, Sony Music, and Warner Music, to ink worldwide licensing deals for their catalogs. If successful, ByteDance would offer a streaming-music service similar to Apple Music and Spotify.

According to the report, the TikTok creator plans to launch the service in India and Brazil, among other countries, before eventually bringing it to the U.S.

TikTok has become one of the biggest success stories in recent years in the social-media market. So far, it has attracted 1.5 billion downloads worldwide and has been so successful, Facebook is trying to stem its growth with a new feature called Reels in Instagram that aims at providing users with the same short-form, music-driven experience you can find in TikTok.

But TikTok's success hasn't come without controversy. Chiefly, ByteDance is a China-based company, and there's some concern among lawmakers that it could pose a security threat to the U.S. Last month, in fact, Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Tom Cotton (R-AK) sent a request to intelligence officials seeking an investigation into TikTok and whether it was conducting counterintelligence on Americans on behalf of the Chinese government.

In a statement at the time, ByteDance said any suggestion that it's working on behalf of the Chinese government is nonsense. The company said that it stores content in the U.S. and Singapore, which means it's not in any way "subject to Chinese law."

Now that it's apparently thinking seriously about getting into the streaming business and taking on Apple Music and Spotify, the stakes could soon get higher.

Apple's Services business, which is bolstered by Apple Music, has become a key growth area for the company. Any threat to it by ByteDance, a company that has more than a billion users, is something the company may not like. The same goes for Spotify, a company that has an even larger user base in streaming music and operates its entire business in the space.

Of course, trying to upend Apple and Spotify won't be easy. But ByteDance is a clear threat. It's already grown under the watchful eye of Facebook and Twitter, and if it can beat those companies at that game, there's reason to believe it can do it again with Apple.

But exactly how it'll do it should be interesting.

According to the report, ByteDance wants to incorporate short video clips into the app, similar to what it does with TikTok. The company might also try to launch in the U.S. at a price point that's lower than the $10 a month customers pay now for Apple Music and Spotify.

Could that combination of social media and a lower price prove troublesome for Apple Music and Spotify? We'll need to wait and see. But don't count out ByteDance--and don't think for a second that if the social element inside its app works that users won't flock to the new, cheaper app.

Tick tock, Apple.

Published on: Nov 18, 2019
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