Twitter to Launch Music Service
In January, Twitter launched Vine, a six second (or less) video sharing service. Now it is set to launch a music service – knowing eight out of ten of the most followed accounts are musicians.
Twitter recently acquired We Are Hunted, a software company whose search algorithms are built to aggregate popular new music. We Are Hunted’s music discovery service was accessible by web, iOS, Android and Spotify apps. Twitter is using this software to develop its own standalone music discovery and streaming service and will leverage its existing relationship with SoundCloud for the streaming element. The service will be called Twitter Music and will be launched as a standalone iOS app very soon. When you load up the app for the first time, Twitter Music will suggest that you sign in using your Twitter account – your experience will then be personalized based on your Twitter social graph. It’s rumored that there will be four main tabs in the app: ‘Suggested’ will recommend tracks for you based on artists you follow and artists other users you follow are following. The hashtag ‘#NowFollowing’ will aggregate tracks tweeted by people you follow when they use it – meaning you can recommend tracks easily to your social graph. ‘Popular’ will bring in songs that are trending, and ‘Emerging’ which will bring in tracks from up-and-coming artists. If you want to learn more about an artist, you’ll be able to click through to a short bio and play other tracks on their SoundCloud account. You’ll also be able to follow artists on Twitter directly from the app.
This is a highly competitive market. Facebook recently launched its OpenGraph technology which enables services like Spotify and SoundCloud to heavily appear in news feeds, and Google has confirmed that it is looking to introduce a music subscription service of its own. Spotify recently hit six million Premium subscriptions, and there are many other major global music streaming services such as Deezer, Napster, rara.com, Music Unlimited and Xbox Music. It is not yet known whether Twitter will charge subscription fees to use the app, but it has been refining its commercial model recently, with revenues forecast to increase to $1 Billion by 2014; 58% of this from mobile. Vine videos have enriched the promoted tweet product – brands like GE and Gap have been using Vines within promoted tweets. It’s possible that Twitter will encourage the music industry to use Twitter Music in a similar way to promote new tracks, or it could even look to generate revenue from paid downloads or commissions on ticket sales.
This move by Twitter highlights another example of a world where music and media are converging. Leveraging Twitter functionality and scale with SoundCloud for content should – in theory – make both media brands stronger and enhance the experience for the end user. The ambition to keep people in Twitter makes perfect sense and harnessing content (Twitter Cards, Vine and now Twitter Music) will do that. Twitter Music looks like the focus will be more fun (than serious muso) where you can easily find a new tune, and for people to dip in and out. The company is looking to integrate more content into its platform to raise engagement. As a brand this will no doubt open up sponsorship integration opportunities – Twitter Music Charts, etc. - but also the ability to use SoundCloud with scale – which for the right brand and brief when combined with this functionality could be very powerful.