By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
Twitter announced that its new music discovery app, Twitter #music, will launch to the public on Thursday in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, expanding the offering past the small group of celebrities who have been kicking the tires for the past week or so.
The free Twitter #music apps for iOS and the web (no Android version yet) hooks into external music services to let you play music: previews from iTunes or full tracks from Rdio or Spotify, if you have an account with those. Twitter says it will “continue to explore and add other music service providers.” Playing music is nothing new, of course, but what is new with this app is how you find that music.
Unlike Facebook’s scrobbling-style approach, which lets it broadcast what you’re listening to to all your friends, Twitter #music only knows what people do with music within Twitter itself. That means it will work better for you if you follow the artists you like, and your friends like to post lots of songs. Not only can you see what your Twitter followees are “now playing,” but it will help Twitter #music’s suggestions section do a better job of recommending new things to listen to.
Still, even if you don’t follow artists, and you and your Twitter friends don’t post much music, you can still get something out of these apps. They prominent include charts for the most popular and fastest-rising artists being tweeted at that time. And when you listen to an artist you find that way, you have a chance to follow them (from your main Twitter account), thereby improving the experience for later. You can also see which artists the artists who you follow are following, offering the opportunity to flesh out your Twitter #music experience even further.
The neat, mosaic-like interface is clearly based on We Are Hunted, which Twitter acquired, and whose developers built Twitter #music. It’s a tiled wall of artist images, which you can click (on the web) or tap (in the iOS app) in order to hear instantly.
The web version will roll out over the next few hours, according to Twitter (update: it is now live for us, and includes the same screens as the iOS version, more or less). We’ve been testing the iOS version this morning. Here’s how it works:
Overall, if you have a Twitter account and iOS, and you’re a music fan, we’re hard-pressed to think of a reason why you wouldn’t want to install this app. It runs much better from a “cold start” than we thought it would, given that unlike Facebook, it doesn’t know what you’re listening to outside of Twitter. And the more you use it, the better it will get.
Again, there is no Android version, but ABC News, where Twitter announced Twitter #music, says it’s not available “yet.” It’s unclear at this point whether Androids and other non-iOS devices will be able to use this as a mobile web app via music.twitter.com.