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Twitter abandoned #Music the app, but not music the strategy

Caitlin McGarry | March 28, 2014
Twitter killed its #Music app softly last week after failing to deliver what the people want: free song streaming. But that musical mistake doesn't mean Twitter is giving up on its mission of helping the world discover new artists. The network on Thursday announced a partnership with Billboard that will give Twitter its own chart in the famed publication.

It may have seemed like a good idea — people talk about music on Twitter all the time. But an isolated music discovery app that doesn't let you stream songs just doesn't work in the era of Spotify and Rdio.

Twitter #Music was far too limited in its appeal to gain traction. You couldn't save artists to listen to later or view your search history unless you tweeted every song you were jamming to — which was an option, but not a great one. You also couldn't follow artists within the app without following them on Twitter, so there was no way around following Lady Gaga's Twitter rants if you just wanted to preview that bizarre R. Kelly duet.

Twitter tried to make the recommendations more relevant with a June update that added new genres and charts that separated major acts from indie talent and music popular in the blogosphere.

But at the same time Twitter #Music was building out its recommendation tools, streaming services like Spotify and Rdio were gathering steam — and offering free, full-length songs, to boot. Both services integrated Twitter #Music functionality, which let users find songs trending on Twitter and then stream full-length versions for free. Suddenly, there was no reason to open the Twitter #Music app at all.

The Billboard partnership and discussions with other players like Beats Music and Vevo can help Twitter do what it does best, encourage conversations, without having to divert its attention to nonsensical side projects.


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