Following the confirmation that they acquired Aussie music aggregate start-up We Are Hunted and quietly releasing a new app to select ‘influences’ through an invite-only viral spread, Twitter has now officially confirmed the launch of its new music service, Twitter #music.

A post on Twitter’s official blog reads that “today, we’re releasing Twitter #music, a new service that will change the way people find music, based on Twitter.”

The free app and social media service is designed as an integrated form of music discovery, finding and following musicians and influential figures and learning more about they’re listening to in an ongoing, nebulous web of networks and music recommendations. The blog post reads:

It uses Twitter activity, including Tweets and engagement, to detect and surface the most popular tracks and emerging artists. It also brings artists’ music-related Twitter activity front and center: go to their profiles to see which music artists they follow and listen to songs by those artists. And, of course, you can tweet songs right from the app.

The music discovery service integrates with three separate music sources, namely Apple’s iTunes, and streaming music services Spotify and Rdio. By default, Twitter #music will use the preview tracks from iTunes to stream music played through the new app, but subscribers to Spotify and Rdio can merge their accounts to enjoy the full streaming tracks available in their own libraries.

As for other music application integration, Twitter has stated “we will continue to explore and add other music service providers.”

The actual interface uses a ‘#NowPlaying’ checkerboard of album and profile art to the people that you are following, where each user’s profile is inset to the music that they are listening to.

There is also a Suggested music screen which allows for searching for individual tracks, artists, and people to follow, as well as recommending music based on your listening habits. Of course, you can also instantly share and tweet what you’re listening to or something you’ve discovered direct from the interface.

As previously reported, Twitter already allowed a number of ‘influencers’ access to Twitter #music in an ‘invite only’ format to begin with to help promote buzz of the app, with the likes of American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and US rapper Wiz Khalifa tweeting their excitement about the new music app.
Each artist, band, or ‘influencer’ also has their own unique Twitter #music profile, where you can start exploring the artists they follow, and the music they’re enjoying.

The press for Twitter #music also points out that it is not a standalone music streaming service, but a music-based form of social networking, meaning that Twitter relies on the libraries of its users’ own music streaming catalogues – like Rdio (such as in the image below) – and won’t be uploading any of its own music.

The launch of Twitter #music into the hands of users comes after weeks of speculation and rumour about the social media giants plans to make a splash in the music market.

The existence of an iOS-based music discovery service was first revealed when it was reported that Twitter had bought out We Are Hunted, the music aggregate website that was started by a group of Australian programmers in 2009 before growing from its California baste to reach as many as one million users a month in June last year.

The site generated a music chart by monitoring popular songs across blogs, social media, message boards, and BitTorrent, from which users could then stream songs, compile playlists, and share content to their own social media pages.

As part of the Twitter buy-out however, the We Are Hunted servers were shut down, along with the million or so user profiles associated with the site, as the company was absorbed into Twitter to help launch its new music platform.

We Are Hunted co-founder Stephen Phillips wrote a note on their website about the merger, saying “there’s no question that Twitter and music go well together. Artists turn to Twitter first to connect with fans, and people share and discover new songs and albums every day.”

What followed was a trending launch, with Twitter #music’s existence confirmed by the number of musicians and celebrities tweeting their enthusiasm about it before it was launched overnight to the general public.

It’s a bold move into the music market for Twitter and as industry commentators, like Billboard,  have noted, the social media giant is in a strong position to influence the shape of music consumption because it has the key feature needed for success in new technological ventures: a thriving social community.

While Twitter #music defaults to iTunes for its music use, it’s integration with Spotify and Rdio demonstrates that the company isn’t exclusively playing sides. So while other popular music streaming services like the French-based Deezer and the hugely popular Pandora – with its 200 million subscribers – may not necessarily have been ‘frozen out’ of the no doubt lucrative partnership with Twitter #music, but will be left out for the time being.

Twitter #music’s default use of iTunes for music previews, as well as directly linking to the digital store for purchasing, is good news for Apple, who have been struggling to get their own music streaming and discovery service off the ground.

Though reportedly finalising negotiations with major labels Warner and Universal for a free streaming component integrated into iTunes, Apple still appears to be playing catch-up to the number of IT companies looking to get in on music service boom, including Google, Amazon, and Beats (By Dre) and Trent Reznor’s ‘revolutionary’ project, ‘Daisy’.

The Twitter #music app is available now on iOS through Apple’s app store, and a web-based version of the new app is expected to go live sometime in the next 24 hours.

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