Social Networking

Twitter May Rock the Music Scene

Those who eagerly await the latest tweets from Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Justin Bieber may soon have one more reason to tie their musical interests to Twitter: The social network will reportedly use a recent acquisition to set up a Twitter Music app.

Technology from the music discovery company We Are Hunted, which Twitter bought last year, will reportedly serve as the app’s foundation. Soundcloud will provide music streaming services with videos courtesy of Vevo, according to published reports.

The Twitter Music app for iOS devices may debut later this month.

The decision to offer a branded, standalone music app shows Twitter’s evolution into a media company, one that is slowly adding variety — and advertising opportunities — to a social network originally built on 140-character messages. That also means inherenting some of the challenges that go along with the territory.

“This type of business depends on having a lot of people in your embedded base,” Maribel Lopez, principal analyst at Lopez Research, told TechNewsWorld. “That base is going to be important in negotiating music rights.”

Twitter did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

Twitter Music’s Backbeat

We Are Hunted’s service on Twitter tracks in real time the 99 most popular emerging songs worldwide on the social Web. Users can stream music, create playlists and share songs via social media. It has released music discovery apps for smartphones and tablets, and also built an app that works within the Spotify client.

Twitter may break new ground for itself if it finds a way to successfully integrate We Are Hunted’s features into its own music and video discovery app.

“People are using Twitter now to disseminate commentary and news, and I can see Twitter saying they’re going to become a next-generation broadcasting service New York Times-style — it’s got music, it’s got pictures, it’s got commentary,” Lopez said.

“We’ve talked about this disruption of the traditional media for a while, and we’ve seen a couple of publications that have managed to make that digital transit and added video and commentary, but we haven’t really seen the emergency of the 21st century media company,” she said. “Pandora and Spotify are just for music, but Twitter will be a whole content channel with more stuff.”

Soundcloud is experimenting with using dynamic visuals to enhance sounds, and that might give Twitter Music an additional dimension for its content.

“Today, we’ve moved from PCs to mobile devices, but music’s still locked to devices,” Lopez remarked. “For the next century, the question is: how do you integrate Pinterest and 140 characters of Twitter and the video from Vevo into the new user experience around media consumption? And can you do it before Apple does?”

Twitter’s move indicates that “discovery is beginning to eclipse access as a differentiating feature,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

How Not to Be the Next MySpace

Twitter Music may illustrate how the company “is trying to move out of its niche and become more pervasive, and defend against being overcome by moves by Google and Facebook to make them redundant,” Enderle told TechNewsWorld. “Music is used widely, and this could provide enough utility for them to weather — at least for a time — targeted efforts to make them the next MySpace.”

Twitter Music “is more about discovery, Facebook is more about sharing and Google Music is positioned more sharply against iTunes,” he said. “But there clearly are crossover features.”

Twitter differs from other music services such as Pandora and Spotify in that it’s more widely used, Enderle added. Those services, however, focus more on providing music and less on its discovery. Twitter’s entry into music could also accelerate an industry shakeout. “We have too many services at the moment.”

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