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Twitter's #Music Whistles a Happy Tune

Twitter's #Music Whistles a Happy Tune

Twitter just gave its legions of users something else to tweet about -- and a reason to stick around the site for longer than it takes to dash off a few posts. Its #Music service officially launched on Thursday after some hype-building that included a period of access limited to famous-people-only, like Ryan Seacrest, who dutifully gushed about its coolness.

By Peter Suciu
04/18/13 3:07 PM PT

Long before a tweet was a 140-character post on Twitter, it was a component of birdsong. Now the microblogging site is singing the praises of its new Twitter #Music, an app that will help users find tunes they'll like, based on their current preferences and songs' popularity on Twitter.

The app utilizes Twitter activity, including tweets and other engagements, not only to identify the most-popular tracks, but also to detect emerging artists. It highlights artists' music-related Twitter activity as well.

How It Works

Users can see what music is trending on Twitter, learn about new talent hidden in tweets, get suggestions of artists they might like, check out the songs people they're following are currently playing, or just home in on artists they already know.

The songs on the Twitter #Music app come from three primary sources: iTunes, Spotify and Rdio. By default, iTunes provides previews within the app. Subscribers to the other two services can log into their respective accounts and then listen to full tracks within the app.

Users can also tweet songs from the app.

"Twitter is trying to increase their usefulness and relevance, and this is clearly an attempt at that," said independent technology analyst Billy Pidgeon.

"Facebook is more of a destination than Twitter, so Twitter is responding," he pointed out. "They are trying to add more features to make it more useful and indispensable to people."

Many of the most-followed Twitter accounts are those of musicians. In fact, half of all Twitter users follow at least one musician, according to Twitter.

Twitter declined to provide further details.

Discovery Tool and More

The primary use for #Music from the user's perspective is discovery, said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Research.

"Users might want to follow someone who is particularly interesting or has expertise in a genre of music they're interested in. Another way to say this would be social curation," he suggested.

"It's also important to point out that there is no cost to use the app," Sterling told TechNewsWorld. "People will download and find it valuable or not and continue to use it accordingly."

Although #Music works in conjunction with iTunes, Spotify and Rdio, it doesn't replicate those services.

"It offers a different experience than the underlying music apps/sites that support it," Sterling said.

More Pop Than Classics

The #Music app is built around four pages or tabs, which include a "Popular" tab that shows the music trending across Twitter. The "Emerging" tab identifies what Twitter considers hidden talent. There is also a "Suggested" tab that names artists a user might like, and a "#NowPlaying" tab that shows what songs a users' friends are tweeting. The "Me" tab is for the artists the user already follows.

The #Music app is likely going to focus far more on the latest hits than on oldies.

"It certainly seems geared more to contemporary music, such as pop-oriented music and hip hop," said Pidgeon. "Many of these artists have Twitter accounts and use them often. This isn't for selling Led Zeppelin or Grateful Dead records, it is for selling Kanye West and others who are very vocal through Twitter."

Twitter has long been used by celebrities, and #Music will build on that.

"Celebrities are very good at pushing themselves and their friends' stuff on Twitter," Pidgeon told TechNewsWorld. "It is really the easiest of the social media networks for artists to use and connect with fans."

From Influencers to the Masses

Twitter took an interesting approach in opening the app to a select group of celebrities before letting the masses in.

"This is very much a velvet rope, VIP approach," noted Pidgeon. "It is a way to let the service build through the biggest influencers first. With Twitter, the people with the most followers do wield more power."


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