Friday, 19 April 2013

Twitter Launches Music App

Yesterday, Twitter announced the launch of a standalone music app called #music on the popular Stateside television show Good Morning America. The Twitter #music app is based on the music discovery service We Are Hunted, which the microblogging site acquired a few months ago. The app is currently available to desktop users in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, as well as on Apple devices in each country.

Twitter #music is not just a music playing app, it is really a music discovery app, using software from We Are Hunted and Twitter to find artists and songs which are popular, trending or might interest the user. To find the music, the app has to be synced up to a user’s Twitter account. To play the music, it has to be synced up to either a Rdio or a Spotify premium account. If a user doesn’t have access to Spotify or Rdio, then they can use #music to find and discover new music, playing previews of the songs that interest them using iTunes. Twitter does say in the announcement post on their blog that they intend “to explore and add other music service providers.”

There are five distinct tabs in the app: Popular, Emerging, Suggested, #NowPlaying and Me. Popular and Emerging use Twitter’s search algorithms to display songs which are trending on Twitter and “hidden talent” mentioned in tweets. Suggested goes one step further, displaying artists and songs that you might enjoy based on your activity on Twitter – who you follow, who the people you follow are following, etcetera. #NowPlaying finds songs and artists mentioned in tweets which also contain the #NowPlaying hashtag. Me just finds the artists you follow. There is also a comprehensive search tool at the top right, which separates results into artists and users.

The Popular and Emerging tabs are displayed as charts, with artists arrayed left to right – there are three artists to a row on an iPhone. Each artist is portrayed by their Twitter header image, with an opaque text box running across the bottom containing their Twitter handle and the name of their song. Hovering over the header image will replace the Twitter handle and song name with the name of the artist. A play icon and a follow button also appears, as well as an explicit warning for certain songs. Clicking on the image will play the song; clicking on the text box will open up the artist’s Twitter profile card. Playing the song will open a play box, with buttons allowing users to buy the track on iTunes or follow the artist on Twitter.

Although the app is reliant on Spotify and Rdio to play music, it does provide something different to both services. Access to the vast amount of information on Twitter, as well as Twitter and We Are Hunted algorithms to sift through it, ensures that those looking to discover new music will get a lot out of the app. There is also an interesting social element to the music discovery app: users can use the #NowPlaying hashtag to share what they are listening to with others – yes, they could do this before, but now that the hashtag has its own tab on a sure-to-be-popular Twitter branded app, more people are likely to use it and be interested in what others are listening to. Spotify does have some social elements, the ability to sync up your account with Facebook and follow others’ playlists to name a couple, but with Twitter, not only can users crowdsource and discover the most popular songs of the moment, they can also follow the Twitter accounts of DJs and music journalists: respected critics within the music industry who will definitely use the app to champion emerging talent.

The app already has a large number of celebrity fans, whose positive tweets are sure to increase interest in the app, after all, most Tweeters use the social media site to get closer to their idols – at any one time, at least two of the top trends on Twitter are based around fandom. There is no doubt that Twitter #music will be extremely popular – Twitter has had recent success with its previous app Vine, which reached number one in the app charts last week – so it is only a matter of time before musicians, producers and labels start leveraging the service to their advantage. There have even been rumours that Twitter is negotiating with Viacom and NBCUniversal about the potential for advertising on the service, which is good news for marketers and advertisers.

Twitter say on their blog that the app will be released on Android and to all users worldwide soon.

What do you think of #music?    


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