As if it weren't crowded enough already, Twitter is reportedly jumping into the music-streaming business with a new app powered by We Are Hunted, a music discovery tool that it acquired six months ago. There's been no public mention from either company about the acquisition or the app, but CNET's Casey Newton says it's happening in a brand new scoop. Newton reports:
The app, to be called Twitter Music, could be released on iOS by the end of this month, according to a person familiar with the matter. Twitter Music suggests artists and songs to listen to based on a variety of signals, and is personalized based on which accounts a user follows on Twitter. Songs are streamed to the app via SoundCloud.
It sounds like the app builds a new layer on top of We Are Hunted's current technology for finding new tunes. A new page on Twitter's website will have tabs for "Emerging," "Popular," "Suggested" and "#NowPlaying." If you've used We Are Hunted—which makes an excellent Spotify app, by the way—those first two will look familiar. The second two are more Twitter-powered. "Suggested" is derived from data about what people you follow and the artist's they follow are tweeting. The #NowPlaying tab works similarly but pulls in tweets using that hashtag. It also appears to have helped Newton get his scoop, since We Are Hunted employees have been using it a lot lately.
Well isn't this a curious turn of events. Like I said earlier, a lot of companies are trying to get into the streaming and/or social music business. Facebook has its tight relationship with Spotify, though the latter branched out and launched its own social network recently. Google has Google Music, and rumors say that a streaming service is just around the bend. Ditto for Apple, which is already making truckloads of cash off its iTunes store and may soon offer a subscription-based service. Then there's Last.fm, the original music-powered social network that CBS bought in 2007.
So what can Twitter do that's different? That's up to Twitter obviously. There's an element of WWTD going in Silicon Valley these days. (That's 90s-speak for What Would Twitter Do.) Since the early days of microblogging, Twitter has set itself apart not only by building unique products but by attracting a community of self-starters, users that will improve the service without even being asked. The company made a surprisingly successful sophomore move with the launch of Vine, that sometimes porn-riddled six-second-long video service. Like Twitter, nobody really knew what Vine was at first, but they liked it nevertheless.
Here's the thing: Nobody's nailed music recommendations. If you spend time buying stuff in the iTunes music store, maybe you've built out your profile enough to get a good song suggestion every now and again. Nobody uses Google Music—correct me if I'm wrong—though the idea of Google getting into the streaming music business is interesting. (Think: Google search terms, plus music database. It could produce some interesting outcomes.) Several Spotify apps do recommendation and discovery. Quite frankly, as an early Spotify user, I have to say that We Are Hunted is the best of them.
Who knows if this crazy idea will work? Suffice it to say, you already let Twitter tell you what to do pretty often if you're a big Twitter user. Twitter tells you what to read. Twitter tells you how speak Internet. Twitter tells you what's important. So why shouldn't Twitter tell you what kind of music to listen to?
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