About a week and a half ago, We Are Hunted announced they were joining Twitter.
We want to share some news with you. We Are Hunted has joined Twitter. wearehunted.com
— We Are Hunted (@wearehunted) April 11, 2013
This, of course, started a lot of chatter about Twitter’s plans in this space. We Are Hunted has been a much beloved music discovery app organizing and charting social media discussion about bands, and offering songs for download occasionally. Friday, the Twitter Music app went public.
Looking at the app this weekend, it seems that Twitter Music has borrowed from We Are Hunted’s design and, like its predecessor, surfaces what bands fans are talking about. Linking a Spotify or Rdio account allows for full-song streaming. What isn’t clear to me, however, is whether Twitter Music will start to offer downloads in partnership with bands and their labels as We Are Hunted did, or whether Twitter Music will have any curated tracklists. It’s also not clear to me whether the charts are determined by raw numbers of tweets in a given time period, or numbers of tweets by particular influencers, or some combination of the two.
Crowdsourcing has democratized a great deal of music marketing, but emerging artists still rely on curation and tastemakers to gain a toehold. I listen to new bands because my friends are talking about them, but my friends’ music tastes tend to be pretty varied. I have favorite music critics whom I watch for recommendations on what’s new and good. I didn’t start listening to Savages because of an algorithm; I saw Sasha Frere-Jones’ Instagram photos and posts to an email list describing how amazing their NYC show was, then looked them up.
I see a lot of potential in Twitter Music and will definitely be playing with it more in the coming days and weeks. However, I’m uneasy about the notion that something as warm and organic as finding out about new bands may be at least partially reduced to cold, detached data calculations.
Thanks to Stephen Phillips, We Are Hunted founder turned Twitter engineer for Twitter Music, a little clarity on where the new app generates its charts:
@sarahwefald Great review. Thanks for taking the time. Popular chart based on overall twitter stats, emerging listens to the tastemakers.
— Stephen Phillips (@huntedguy) April 22, 2013