This morning Twitter rolled out its much-teased music app with considerable fanfare on Good Morning America. The sleek app, which lets you browse popular and emerging artists and sample songs, is a clear step away from the frenetic, real-time news firehose that has, in many ways, defined the social network for its power users — and that's exactly the point.
For the obsessive body of users that spend all day plugged into platforms like Tweetdeck, Twitter Music will probably feel like an incomplete, one-way experience. That's because it was created for a different kind of Twitter user altogether.
Last August, Twitter shared with BuzzFeed that of its 140 million active users (that number has swelled to 200 million recently) roughly 40% are strict consumers, meaning that they're not posting tweets, but just reading them. For this group, Twitter is a casual experience that is much more like a distraction or a hobby than a day job. A lot of these people aren't on Twitter to talk to friends and colleagues; they're there to follow people they dont really know — many of whom are celebrities.
For this group, which up to this point has been somewhat underserved by Twitter, the music app is natural fit. Follow your favorite musicians. Check out who they follow. Discover new music. And, if you want, tell your friends! It's a laid-back experience that's based on consuming and following rather than broadcasting and being followed.
It's also a sign of what's to come from Twitter, which will continue to court and embed itself into the different branches of the media business. In many respects, Twitter is attempting to create the definitive space, not only for star musicians, but for lesser-known artists, much in the way that MySpace did in the mid-2000s. To do that, the site will continue its hard sell, using canned celebrity testimonials and high-profile TV reveals to endear itself to an audience that still relies on popular endorsements and morning shows to get news.
While the Tweetdeck crowd will surely roll its collective eyes at spectacles like the GMA reveal, it doesn't much matter. Twitter already has them as devoted, if not obsessed, users. If anything, the eye-rolling means Twitter Music is doing its job: dialing right into the frequency of a quiet but powerful and underserved constituency.