News Column

A little out of tune

April 26, 2013



Does the world really need another music discovery service?

It seems like we're discovering music on Mars at this point.

Nevertheless, we've now got Twitter #music. Unlike MySpace's recent attempt to convert to a completely music-oriented website, this is a successful social network that's decided to add music to the mix.

The results are, well, mixed.

Unlike Vine, #music's integration into the rest of Twitter is less tight. You'll need to either download the #music app, currently out for iOS with an Android version coming soon, or visit

There's not a way to instantly switch between Twitter's vanilla and music sides, which seems like a missed opportunity.

You'll get music in the app via a few different methods. Naturally, "popular" gives you the most tweeted songs at any given time, and this can change at a moment's notice. #Music only shows the top 140 -- yes we get it, Twitter, you love that number.

When we tried things out this week, within five minutes "Shake it Off" by Secondhand Serenade went from being number one to dropping out of the top 20 entirely. An hour's worth of checking produced all kinds of different songs shooting up and sinking down the chart, so you won't be stuck with the same top 20 for weeks.

"Emerging" showed off all kinds of up-and-coming bands, and despite my halfway- decent knowledge of modern music I was familiar with precisely zero of them.

If you're truly looking for something new and different, this is the place.

The expected "suggested" category throws up the official Twitter account for a number of bands based on what your followers have shared and which bands you follow.

The suggestions are all over the place. #Music only recognized that I follow They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Coulton and MC Frontalot -- apparently Twitter doesn't consider "Weird Al" Yankovic a real musician -- and I got results like Tom Morello, Old 97s, Ben Folds and Andrew WK.

Clicking on the artist name will give you exactly one random song by your choice, with a brief iTunes preview. That's it. That's not exactly the best way to get to know a band, since you might like Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" but hate everything else he does, for example.

To get songs from #music onto Twitter itself, you'll need to post #nowplaying, the Twitter handle of the band, and a link from either iTunes, Rdio or Spotify.

Afterward you'll have maybe 60 characters left to type a comment. To save your sanity, you can easily do that from a top 140 song.

Which brings us to looking for searching by #nowplaying in #music. The service will only pick it up if it's got the three specific things I listed. Any one or two of them won't work, so you can forget about posting YouTube links to music videos like most people do.

Songs also flush out of #nowplaying remarkably fast. A friend and I posted songs to each other to test it out, but when I went back to find them barely two days later, they were all gone. Apparently Twitter expects you to have a bunch of people who just can't stop posting songs.

The final annoyance comes when you realize you can't search for songs. Sure, you can search for bands in #music -- again, if they're recognized by Twitter -- but the only way to find a song is to hope it's in the top 140, or by sifting through iTunes, Rdio and Spotify and then remembering to attach all the stuff #music wants.

The idea behind #music is solid. You're on Twitter anyway, so why not use it for music? But in its current form #music is too frustrating for anything other than the top of the charts.

Twitter #music, iOS app

Pros: Rapidly evolving chart of popular music; large pool of undiscovered bands; searches associate band names with their Twitter accounts

Cons: Weak integration with regular Twitter; only recognizes songs posted in a specific way from just three sources; doesn't recognize official accounts of all bands

Originally published by ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer.

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