I’ve long been a fan of the smart and popular Brisbane (more recently based in San Francisco) music startup service “We Are Hunted” which utilised a powerful, secret search technology to scrape the web for the most talked about tunes of the moment and presented them in an intuitive tiled interface. The free service literally made the process of finding and sharing the hottest new music being released day-to-day, week-to-week an absolute breeze. So naturally I’ve been more than a little intrigued as to what their acquisition by Twitter late last year, was going to deliver.
Sure enough, with “Twitter #music” the familiar responsive tiled chart interface has been retained, perhaps even improved upon, and the same technology in the back end, used to identify what’s popular in the world of music right now based on online conversation, is no doubt fuelling the engine… except this time it’s tapping exclusively into the world’s biggest “conversation” courtesy of Twitter’s 500 million+ registered users.
With that being said, let’s take a quick look at what’s on offer.
1. Getting started
To begin with, you have a couple of options as to how to access the new service. Either by web on your desktop or mobile device, or via the iOS app which you can access from your iPhone here. For the purpose of this first-time look, however, I’ll be referring to the desktop web experience.
The “Popular” chart
As soon as you hit the site, you’re presented with the “Popular” chart featuring the most talked about (Tweeted) tracks on Twitter at that given time. It’s fair to expect that this list will usually be overrun with mainstream commercial artists and songs, but at first glance on my first visit, I was happy to find a good few talented indie artists in the top 50 tracks, and even more beyond.
Clicking any of the tiles opens a small, attractive media player in the bottom left of your screen showing:
- the artist
- track title
- progress through the track’s free 30sec preview
- a button to skip to the next track
- a link to where you can purchase the track on iTunes &
- a button to “share” the track with your Twitter followers via a custom tweet.
Other chart options
Beyond the default “Popular” chart, you have the option of viewing and exploring the following additional and personal charts:
- Emerging – hidden talent found in the Tweets
- Suggested – Artists you might like
- #NowPlaying – Tweeted by people you follow
- Me – Artists you follow
At this stage I’m not sure what equations are going on behind the scenes in order to compile the “Emerging” and “Suggested” charts, but one thing is for certain, these are the two charts that are going to receive the bulk of my attention.
2. Log into your Twitter account for more personal charts
As mentioned above, there are a couple of chart types that obviously require you to log into your Twitter account so that your tweets and the tweets of those artists and music influencers you follow, may be scraped.
Clicking on the “#nowplaying” chart menu item, for instance, presents you with a screen prompting users to log in or sign up to Twitter to access. Provided you are already logged into Twitter in your browser (via current session or cookies etc), the single-click process allowing you to proceed to the chart is super easy.
Once logged in, access to a “Me” chart of music from those artists you already follow on Twitter also becomes available. While this selection doesn’t exactly aid your pursuit of new, undiscovered talents, it does present you, when connected to rdio or Spotify (see below), a pretty slick playlist of tracks from the artists you already know and love.
In a similar fashion, you can explore “playlists” of tracks from artists your music-loving peers listen to by simply throwing their Twitter usernames on the end of the “Twitter #music” URL. For example:
Follow new artists with a single click
Once signed in to your Twitter account, following a great new artist you suddenly stumble upon is as simple as hovering over the artist tile and clicking the Twitter bird icon that appears in the top right of the tile. A successful “follow” will be indicated by a blue bird icon accompanied by a tick icon.
If you “follow” by mistake, simply click the Twitter bird icon again to “unfollow”.
3. Connect to your rdio and/or Spotify accounts for full songs
Sure, the 30sec previews of tracks which are imported from iTunes do the trick, but full streaming songs are clearly the preferred option. Cleverly, this is where established streaming services “rdio” and “Spotify” come to the rescue.
Registered users of either rdio and Spotify simply connect their accounts to their Twitter #music profile, and like magic those 30sec teasers become full length plays!
4. Share your discoveries with your friends and followers
Sharing your newfound discoveries with your faithful followers on Twitter is a cinch. By clicking on the share button on the mini music player in the bottom left of your screen as you are listening to a particular track, you will be prompted to personalise a pre-formatted tweet which, by default, will already contain the track name and artist, as well as the clearly-now-all-powerful hashtag “#nowplaying”.
All going according to plan, you’ll end up with something like this:
The tweet links your followers to the track in question on either rdio or Spotify where they can take a listen for themselves. Simple.
Explore. Listen. Discover. Share.
It’s not a new concept in the online music world, but with the launch of the new Twitter #music service today, it sure is going to be a whole lot more exciting! Right now, the service is available to web and iPhone (app) users in the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Plans are in the works, however, to expand the the service to other countries and the Android platform in the near future.
Now go. Explore, conquer, and let me know what you find either in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@masey)!