Twitter #Music for Indie Artists (part 2 of 2)

Why the Social Media Giant Will Become Your Most Essential Promo Tool 

twitter music screengrab

Twitter #Music is officially in the wild and available as an app in your favorite store or you can visit the standalone web version at Just to refresh your memory, Twitter #Music is a social music discovery and charting engine, meant to integrate with other platforms to share music in real-time. This is the result of the We Are Hunted acquisition that Twitter made last year. We Are Hunted specialized in aggregating data to chart emerging and Top 40 songs based on social media and prominent blog postings.

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Let’s get all the basics out of the way. The app is free to download, free to use online, and you do not have to be on Twitter. However, having a Twitter account opens up a lot of integration with your own preferences and feed. Notably, as an artist, you do not have to be on Twitter either, just on iTunes, Spotify, etc. More on that later.

All of Twitter #Music is driven by songs, not albums. The layout is beautiful, with tiled Twitter profile avatars and a little 45rpm-looking player interface in the bottom left.  You can instantly follow any of the artists. And, on mobile if you push and hover, you can see which of your users posted which song you are being served.

There are pull-down menus of categories:

“Popular”  – new music trending

“Emerging”- hidden talent in tweets 

“Suggested” – artists you may like  

“#NowPlaying” – music tweeted by people you follow

“Me” – artists you follow

The last three categories are only functional if you sign in with your Twitter handle. This last one may be the most worthless because it only lists artists who are basically signed and on iTunes. I am looking at my Twitter #Music right now and on “Me” there are less than 20 showing, but I follow literally thousands of artists – it’s just that most of them are real musicians and bands…like you.

To be brutally honest, I’m “optimistically disappointed” with the launch.  Many of us hoped for features such as in-stream radio, true independent discovery, free or ad-supported full song play, and so on. Having said that, it’s new, and I’m hopeful Twitter will refine it as they go.


The basic Twitter #Music only plays 30 second previews served by iTunes, so if you’re not on iTunes, you’re out – unsearchable. And I cannot tell you how deeply that pisses me off. Further, if a user wants to hear “Full Tracks,” they must have either a Spotify or Rdio Premium account (about $10/month).  That means your music must be on iTunes to be found by most users.

To be fair, this is from the Twitter #Music F.A.Q.:

“Importantly, remember that it’s all about the music. To be heard you’ll need to have at least one track in one of the catalogs our users can connect to – iTunes, Spotify or Rdio. If you don’t see a playable track on Twitter #Music, email us to let us know.”

But I did not find this to be true. I searched for some artists I work with – all are on iTunes, Spotify, Rdio, AND I follow them, AND I have tweeted them as #NowPlaying and yet, nowhere can they be found.

I hope this is a “bug” to be worked out, but I fear the initial launch is slanted toward more lucrative major and mainstream artists.


But wait; there’s hope! Many of us have sorted through the developer code and can see integration areas with SoundCloud and YouTube. If you read this space, you know that I insist you be on both. When (if) those integrate, everyone will be searchable. Also, Twitter is still Twitter. In a way, the fact that the app is separate, not inside of Twitter, is good. Sharing music properly is still important, as is building a fan base and communicating with them.

What I am ultimately pissed off about is that Twitter #Music is not keeping with the spirit of Twitter, which is immediate, real-time interaction; the police scanner theory that @Jack envisioned. If they are going to just push songs already on iTunes (or perhaps Spotify), that means those songs are done, mixed, mastered, ISRC’d, bagged and tagged for accepted digital distribution. I would only be able to hear songs that are at least months old; that’s not discovery, that’s being sold to.

That’s the exciting part of discovery, a song that was just uploaded, pushed into this world with millions ready to hear it. Twitter #Music could, and should, be the driver of ALL music releases. I hope they realize it soon, or the next startup will.


-Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.

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