Twitter is now so loud the only way to avoid damage is to stuff your fingers in your ears and go “La la la la la la” while sprinting in the other direction. And Twitter’s solution to that problem is to try and convince users to share music via its own network, instead of on Spotify or Rdio? While that might increase engagement, the buzziest of buzzwords and did-we-invest-properly measurement for social networks, it also seems it might get drowned out by the noise.
“Twitter at its best is when you’re using Twitter itself and engaging with people,” says OneThirtySeven writer and entrepreneur Matt Alexander. “Twitter at its worst is when it’s trying to put itself at the forefront of what you’re discussing. Twitter’s trying to be the object of discussion rather than the mediator,” with #music, he says, and therein lies the problem.
Twitter Music — which, incidentally, I hereby refuse to call by its formal hashtag-equipped title — has been greeted with a surprising amount of positivity in the press.
Mat Honan, for instance, wrote about the raw "potential" for the fledgling service as a means for encouraging artist and user engagement. John Gruber, commenting on Honan's piece, went so far as to write that Music is Apple's Ping "done right."
And yet, for all of the potential and the obvious spiritual succession over Ping, Twitter Music strikes me as little more than the embodiment of a misguided, extravagant startup.
Scrambling for identity and clout as a media entity, Twitter's latching onto the tone and behavior of its users and attempting to force itself into the foreground. Rather than facilitating discussion in an increasingly media-centric manner, Twitter has created Music to stand alone and apart from the discussion, relying upon the services and infrastructures of others.
The result is an unintuitive, poorly-discoverable, buzzword-driven experience that does little in the way of actually improving your listening experience. It's a superficial front-end for superior services elsewhere. Perhaps it'll stoke hashtag usage and Twitter engagement in some users, but where's the value proposition? Where's the long term use-case scenario for this product?
A platform agnostic solution for sharing between disparate services? Not quite. An improved social front-end for Spotify and Rdio? Not at all. A genuinely useful service for users, rather than a simple land grab for music-related discussions? Doesn't seem so.
Contrary to Gruber's assessment of Twitter Music, I believe the only service you could possibly consider as Ping "done right" is Rdio. Boasting a robust, non-intrusive, and enjoyable social experience, Rdio has achieved all that Apple sought to do in years past, whilst Spotify engages in a game of social catch-up and iTunes steadily gains more weight. Twitter Music, on the other hand, is a whimsical front-end. It's an unsubstantiated shill for buzzwords and social marketing. And, moreover, it's one that's bafflingly distant from the core Twitter experience.
(Hilariously, if you visit twitter.com/music versus music.twitter.com, you're greeted by an unofficial music-related account rather than Twitter's new service. Given the fact that there's no obvious integration or linkage between twitter.com and Twitter Music, this strikes me not only as tone deaf, but as a fitting demonstration of the problems with the product and, indeed, with Twitter as a whole.)
As I said to Nathaniel for his piece, Twitter Music is the perfect example of what Twitter wants to become, but enacted in a transparently shallow, pointless, and misguided fashion. For all of the "potential" inherent within the idea, the execution is utterly lacking (beyond a skin-deep aesthetic).
With Twitter set for an IPO within the next twelve months, they have a lot to prove and achieve. In my eyes, however, Twitter Music contributes virtually nothing to this end. Instead, as Nathaniel writes, it only adds more noise and detracts from any semblance of signal.