Why have Twitter hashtagged music?

Get the key information (and our verdict) on Twitter's brand new music streaming and sharing service #Music.

19.04.13

Words by: Anthony Walker

Micro-blogging giant Twitter have today unveiled their much-vaunted specialised music service ‘#Music’. Billed as “a new service that will change the way people find music” in a company blog post, the service uses data from Twitter to track, rate and suggest new #music, with streams coming either from iTunes previews or full tracks via Spotify and Rdio. It’s currently available as the standard web version or an iPhone/iPad app but an Android roll-out is expected in the near future.

Cool, right? Here are the details:

  • The new service works, basically, by refining the tools that have already made Twitter great for music. The #Nowplaying hashtag is now properly linked to accounts you follow to make it more accessible, and rather than trawling through artist’s follow lists the interface collates them, complete with track streams, in a clear interface. You can, for example, easily hear music from producer Hyetal through a better-known collaborator like Jessie Ware.
  • As well as that, the main panel has a ‘Suggested’ function that recommends artists based on who you already follow. This is helpful but can be scattergun, filling lists with the obvious or the slight odd. Following Wiley suggests both his crew Roll Deep and one-time tween rapper Romeo Miller.
  • Most of the potential downsides of the project are related to the service’s natural skews. Unlike Myspace before it, which had dedicated music pages and customizable top friends, ‘#Music’ seems to afford the same weight to each followed account. This means that checking up on, say, Ryan Hemsworth is as likely to bring up Cher or Drake as it is Koreless or Cashmere Cat. Both are great, but not really suggestions for the curious.
  • The higher you get up the popularity scale the more the problem is exacerbated, with a lot of stars following contemporaries of a similar caliber. A$AP Rocky and Pusha T are stylistically very different but paired together, Pitbull and Bruno Mars are chummy, and Rihanna is just everywhere.
  • The ‘Popular’ and ‘Emerging’ charts are the most troublesome. They manage to be both predictable and skewed: four of the top five popular tracks at the moment are riding high in the Billboard single or album charts, with Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines presumably joining them because of the recent controversy around its video. ‘Emerging’ seems to mostly work against the ‘Popular’ with an “honest and small” vs. “glossy and big” dichotomy as well as favouring the US, since Duke Dumont’s UK No. 1 smash Need U is featured there.

So far, so undecided. ‘#Music’ looks very handy for streaming music – especially for mobile phones – but the question of sharing and suggesting music is another matter. It’s just been released, and some functions will improve in correlation with how much they’re used, but we think the service will have to really nail that key component to become the hub it aspires to be.

Try it for yourself: the app is available here and the web version at music.twitter.com.

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