Twitter may be preparing to shutter its Twitter #Music mobile app, just six months after its high-profile launch.
News of the potential shutdown was reported by AllThingsD, which cited multiple sources familiar with the matter. Mashable has heard similar rumors of Twitter’s general unhappiness with the product over the last few months.
For the uninitiated, Twitter #Music is a service that helps users discover and find new music based on the microblogging network’s activity, the artists users follow and songs that are trending. In addition to its iPhone app, there is also a web version of Twitter #Music.
Despite lots of press and generally good reviews, Twitter #Music failed to take off with mobile-app users. Just nine days after its launch, Twitter #Music dropped from the list of top 100 free app on iTunes.
The last time Twitter #Music was in the top 1500 for overall app rank was on May 10, 2013, when it ranked 1486, according to App Annie.
As of this writing, Twitter #Music is ranked 170 in the App Store music vertical for the United States. That’s up from 253, its ranking in the music category on Oct. 19.
App ranks aren’t everything, of course, but when a high-profile branded app can’t remain in the top 100 of its main category, that’s a good sign that users just aren’t interested in it.
In contrast, Twitter’s video-sharing app Vine currently ranks #15 out of all free apps in the App Store, and is #2 in the social-networking category — even ahead of the official Twitter iPhone app.
It’s worth nothing that Twitter #Music hasn’t received a UI update for iOS 7. Twitter and Vine were both updated with iOS 7 support to coincide with the launch of Apple’s latest operating system. Twitter #Music is still built for iOS 6, even though iOS 7’s iTunes Radio has Twitter #Music-powered stations.
AllThingsD reported that Twitter is currently in the process of revamping its music team, and that its future focus will likely be on partnering with existing outlets, such as iTunes, Rdio or Spotify, rather than building a separate experience in-house. This makes sense because even if Twitter #Music as a mobile app is a failure, music still has lots of business potential, especially as the company prepares to go public.
Twitter #Music Was a Feature, Not a Whole New App
In my opinion, Twitter #Music has failed to take off with users in part because it should be a feature built into the main Twitter experience, not a separate app and interface. I don’t want to use a separate app to discover new songs on Twitter, I’d much rather have Twitter #Music exist as a separate tab within the app itself.
This is reminiscent of Facebook’s failed Instagram clone, Facebook Camera. The app was no match for Instagram, but it was still an upgrade to the default camera experience inside Facebook; that’s why it was so confusing to see the app exist as a separate entity. Eventually, Facebook smartly integrated
Facebook Camera into its core iOS app.
If Twitter #Music is to survive in its current form, that would certainly be a better engagement strategy. A separate app makes sense for a service such as Vine, which has a separate social graph and different type of content-discovery purpose. With Twitter #Music, however, the separate experience just makes it less likely that anyone will use the app.
Of course, the bigger question is whether the way Twitter #Music works actually aligns with the way users want to discover new music. I would argue that trending songs and recommendations based on the artists I follow are good data points as part of a broader recommendation strategy, but they they don’t work by themselves.
First, the recommendations only really work provided the user follows all the artist they love. In my case, there are plenty of artists I enjoy, but who I don’t necessarily want to follow on Twitter. There are also artists I follow because of their tweets, but who I don’t enjoy sonically.
What’s more, my biggest problem with Twitter #Music is that the graph data only goes one way. Why not also collect my Last.fm data, Spotify follows, Facebook likes and Rdio data? If this is really about music discovery, Twitter is one data point and unlike television, it’s probably not the most representative of my actual musical interests.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Image: Mashable composite, iStockphoto, yewkeo; Screenshot: App Annie