Do Twitter and Google really get music?

By Tom Aylott


Our CMND/CTRL series returns this month, on the software, hardware and listening trends in digital music.

Five months into 2013, and no musical revolutions so far. Later this year, Apple is expected to reveal a whole new iOS later in the year with a music streaming service of some description – their last attempt at socialising iTunes was the disastrous ‘Ping’, so we assume they’ll try and cover that up with something new.

In an attempt to get ahead of the game and pre-empt any Apple announcements, two of the other big guns – Twitter and Google – have launched strikes from different angles.

Twitter has had a crack at social music with their #Music app, and it aims to bring together the music people are talking about on Twitter with ‘trending’ artists, and then links to places where you can listen.

Unfortunately, the whole thing was only fun for about 5 minutes. I’ve barely gone back to or the iOS app since the first afternoon of playing with it. You can see a screen grab of the #music homepage above, and it basically highlights the issue – the most popular music is stuff I really don’t care about.

The recommendations are dull, and I just can’t see it being anything more than a temporary distraction. I’d love to see a more editorial-approach, giving artists the chance to talk about their world in the same way they do on their profiles. Until then, I’m sticking with Spotify and SoundCloud.

Speaking of online streaming services, Google has finally shown their hand. At their I/O conference last week they announced the snappily titled ‘Google Play Music All Access’. It’s basically the same as Spotify, but with some inevitable differences to the available library depending on the contracts that they each have with the studios and labels. At $9.99 per month it’s the same price as Spotify too.

Personally, I didn’t really ever get on with the Google Play Music interface (perhaps this is just because I’m currently surrounded by Apple products), and I’ll just have to reserve judgement until I can really give it a go.

It’s certainly an interesting move from Google, and one that’s been overdue for a while. Spotify, Rdio and Pandora have had a fine run of things, but the big boys are starting to come into the fold at the moment, and it’ll be interesting to see if Spotify loses out as the giants start charging in.

The bigger question is whether you prefer to put your faith in behemoth like Google, Apple and Twitter or the music-only companies like Spotify and the like. Who’s going to be around for longer, who’s going to keep investing in improvements, and who do you trust to put music at the heart of their business?