With Facebook pushing its presence further into users lives via an integrated mobile platform and expanded communication options, social competitor Twitter has been looking to bolster its offerings.
This week, Twitter rolled out #music, a new music service aimed at helping users find hot music and emerging artists. The new music platform follows January’s release of Vine, a mobile app that allows users to post and share short movie clips.
The microblogging giant hopes this branching out will breathe new life into the way users interact with each other on Twitter, as well as find further uses for tweets and social sharing.
Here’s how to find your way around #music, Twitter’s combination of songs and tweeting:
The #music service is launching on two platforms: iOS and browsers. The iOS version, which can be used on iPhones, iPads and iPod touch, is available via the App Store (http://bit.ly/Yxf5WJ), while the browser service is found at http://music.twitter.com. Both platforms offer basically the same functionality, though the mobile version is obviously much better for roaming users.
Straightforward and easy to use, #music is split into four categories, which can be flipped through by changing the active view in a drop down menu. Popular shows music that is being tweeted and played en-masse, Emerging highlights smaller artists gaining a Twitter following, Suggested goes through your followed artists and displays others you might like, while #NowPlaying lists tracks currently or recently played by people you follow.
Each view shows a grid of artists and songs, ranked by how relevant they are to that section’s theme. Interacting with a grid square allows users to play the track in question. By default, #music will play short iTunes previews, but users can log into their Rdio or Spotify accounts to unlock the ability to play full tracks. Users can also tweet about the song without leaving the app, which adds the song to others #NowPlaying lists and keeps non-#music Twitter followers in the loop.
At first glance, Popular seems to be the least useful of the four views, followed by Suggested. Emerging and #NowPlaying are the better views, since they best leverage what makes artists/music and Twitter such a potentially good combo: finding new music based on plays recommendations from friends and those you follow.
A solid complement
While #music does a great job presenting a mobile-friendly social music experience, it’s strengths fall more into being a great music discovery and sharing tool than acting as an all-encompassing music player.
Users that either maintain their own mp3 collections or stream heavily from services like Spotify won’t find that #music replaces those, but rather acts as a complement. I could see myself using #music to see what others are listening to and sharing my finds, but acquiring the music on my own and using my existing storage/streaming/listening system.
To learn more about #music, see Twitter’s introductory blog post at http://bit.ly/13o01BY. To get started with the service, log into http://music.twitter.com or the mobile app with your Twitter and discover what new artists and songs are out there.