One of the largest topics of conversation on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) has never gotten a proper treatment. While the company has successfully engaged TV and live-sports watchers, its efforts in music have been less successful. Last year, the company released Twitter #Music, a separate app that aggregated music from a user's timeline and the most popular music on the network. It shut down the app less than a year later.
Twitter is giving music a second chance with its rollout of Audio Cards, which aim to fix the numerous problems with #Music. The result should be far more beneficial to Twitter's business than #Music ever was.
New product and new partners
Audio Cards offer a simple solution for one of Twitter's most popular use cases. Twitter users love to share music, but sharing previously required a user to leave their timeline to listen to a song. Now, pressing the play button will launch a song in a new window, but users can dock it, so they can continue browsing their timeline.
The first partner in the service is Soundcloud. It's no surprise the two are working closely together. Soundcloud is extremely popular on Twitter, and Twitter has had acquisition discussions with the Swedish company in the past. With a new round of debt funding, Twitter may make another go at Soundcloud soon.
Twitter is also partnering with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes. Artists can offer any song on iTunes to stream through Twitter, or just offer a preview. Twitter users will also be able to easily purchase iTunes downloads through their timeline with just a few taps.
Apple was quick to jump on board with Twitter's Audio Cards as it's looking to bolster its digital music store. Digital music sales slumped significantly in the first half 2014 after their first historic decline in 2013. Music streaming services, like the aforementioned Soundcloud and Spotify, are the main culprits dragging digital sales down. Apple is hoping its early adoption helps spur a few sales for iTunes Music.
Twitter will be reaching out to those music streaming services, too. Twitter #Music used Rdio and Spotify, so it should be able to use those existing relations to bring them on board. It could also greatly benefit from a partnership with Google with its YouTube and Google Music properties.
Fixing the problems of Twitter #Music
The new Audio Cards fix several problems that plagued Twitter #Music and the previous implementation of music within the Twitter app.
The first is that it treats music like the medium it is. It's not a photo that takes two seconds to process, and it's not a video that requires staring at the screen for minutes. It's better suited for sitting in the background while we do other things -- like read other tweets.
The second thing Audio Cards accomplish is increasing engagement within the main Twitter app. Twitter #Music did very little to improve engagement: Users could tweet what they were listening to, and that's about it. With Audio Cards, the design keeps users engaged with their timeline while listening to music within Twitter. Closing the app will end the music, so users are likely to continue browsing their timeline, retweet a few things, tweet about something, or even find another song to listen to.
Audio Cards also encourage musicians, critics, and anyone else involved in the music industry to tweet more. If users can buy songs more easily through Twitter, artists will be encouraged to tweet Audio Cards, but also engage with their fan base more in order to increase sales. Critics looking to increase their following may take advantage of Audio Cards to promote music they think is good.
Keeping users engaged
Twitter #Music put music center stage, but Twitter failed to realize that people don't like their music to be so in-your-face. Audio Cards solve that problem, putting music in the background. The integration with the main Twitter app, instead of a separate app for music, will increase engagement within Twitter instead of kicking people out of the app. More engagement means more advertising opportunities.