Twitter’s music service has been available for almost two months and if you haven’t figured out how to use it yet, you should. The social media giant teamed up with radio streaming providers Spotify and Rdio to offer a hashtag-driven music discovery program that puts artists and the Twitterverse at the forefront of music recommendation.
Whether you use the iOS app or access Twitter #music on the web, here's how to make full use of this new and powerful recommendation service.
1. Get #music
Web: Enter “music.twitter.com” into your browser’s address bar.
iOS: Download the Twitter #music app from the App Store by running a search for “Twitter music” Make sure you are running iOS 6. The mobile app only works on devices running iOS 6 and up.
2. Sync with Rdio or Spotify
You don’t have to be signed in to anything to enjoy Twitter #music’s most basic functions. But if you want to listen to full tracks, you’ll have to be signed into your Rdio or Spotify account, or buy tracks on iTunes.
Web: Click one of the genres listed on the home page or a Chart page. On the top right corner, click the blue Play Full Tracks button to bring up the option to sign in to Rdio or Spotify.
If you already have a premium Spotify or an unlimited Rdio account, sign in with your credentials and you’re ready to enjoy full tracks on Twitter #music. If you don’t have a premium account with either music service, you may choose to sign up for one, or purchase the track you’re listening to on iTunes.
iOS: When you first open it, the app gives you a 4-page introduction to its features. Go through these by swiping through the pages and sign in to your radio service to play full length songs.
And if you miss the chance to do this on first launch, you can still sync with your radio service by tapping on the menu at the top of the screen and selecting Play Full Tracks.
3. Sign in to Twitter for more features
You’ll need to be signed in to your Twitter account to follow artists or other users, and to see the #Nowplaying, Suggested and Me charts.
Web: Click on the gear icon on the top right corner of any Chart page, next to the Play Full Tracks button. This brings up a dropdown menu with options to turn off Explicit mode, and to sign in to your Twitter account.
Alternatively, from the home page, you can click #Nowplaying to bring up a Twitter sign in option.
iOS: Once you are in the app, you can configure it by signing in to your Twitter account. Tap the menu at the top of the app, which at the start will say "Popular." This brings up a dropdown menu of charts and settings. Tap the bottom bar, which says "Me" and select Sign In or Sign Up for Twitter if you don’t already have a Twitter account.
4. Browse and Click Play, Profile or Follow
Web: On #music’s simple home page, you may, depending on your mood, choose from a list of predefined music genres like Alternative, Country, Dance, Folk or Rock.
Or if you prefer, find new music or listen to what everyone else is playing by choosing from a different list with charts like Superstars, Emerging, Unearthed and Hunted. And if you’re signed in to your Twitter account, you can choose #NowPlaying to view songs shared by people you follow.
Clicking one of those links takes you to a Chart page. Each Chart page displays a grid of numbered square tiles of singles with their artist and title at the bottom of each tile.
Hovering over the tile will show you several options. You may hit Play, which plays a 30-second iTunes preview of the song if you are not on Spotify or Rdio, view the artist’s Twitter profile or follow them. Hit Pause to stop a track (it fades out a little slowly, so give it some time) and the forward arrows to go to the next track.
The Charts are also predefined, so changing the URL in a pseudo brute force attempt to display another genre that wasn't displayed will not work either. For instance, we tried changing "https://music.twitter.com/i/chart/rock" to "https://music.twitter.com/i/chart/indie" and the latter showed no results.
iOS: The default start page for the app is the Popular chart page, featuring three columns of tiles in a fashion similar to the web version. On the app, however, you only need to swipe from left to right to access other charts.
Not as many charts are available on the app though, with only Popular, Emerging, Suggested and #NowPlaying.
Playing music on the app is simple enough. The words on the tiles may be a little hard to read in their default configuration, but tapping on a tile enlarges it, and other tiles shift to arrange themselves around it. It’s actually somewhat fun to keep tapping random tiles and watch its neighbors scramble to rearrange themselves around it.
After enlarging a tile, you can then tap the Play icon on it to play the track, the Follow button in the top right of the tile to follow that artist or view the artist’s profile by clicking on their username at the bottom of the tile.
Tap on the player to bring up a slide-out Player panel, which gives you more Player options such as composing a tweet, volume control, buying the track on iTunes and track ranking information. Simply swipe through tracks on the Player panel to go to previous or next tracks. The player also automatically goes to the next track in the list when the current track is done.
5. Other Features: Search, Safe Mode, Suggested and Me
Web: The Search function can be found on the top right corner of Chart pages. Clicking the magnifying glass icon starts a full-screen search function that displays results of usernames for artists and users only. This means you can’t search by genre, title or keywords.
Searching for artists returns a watered-down version of their Twitter profile, which shows their Twitter stats like number of tweets and followers. Tiled around this mini profile are artists they are following and artists Twitter thinks are similar to them.
It also shows a list of their most tweeted tracks, which you can play directly. Clicking their profile opens another tab that displays the artist's full Twitter profile.
You may also choose to filter out music that has been rated Explicit by clicking the Settings icon on the top right of Chart pages and turning OFF explicit tracks.
The Suggested chart, which can be found in the dropdown menu on the top left corner of Chart pages, generates a collection of artists and tracks based on artists you already follow.
And if you only want to see music from people you already follow, select Me from the same dropdown menu.
iOS: To search, tap on the magnifying glass icon at the top right of the screen. As with the web version, Twitter #music’s search function is currently limited to allow searching for artists only. And it is even more limited with the mobile version.
A search for “MGMT”, similarly to the web version, returned MGMT’s watered-down Twitter profile. The only difference is that on the web version, you can easily click on their username to show their tweets in a different page, but there’s no such function in the mobile app yet.
The Suggested and #Nowplaying charts are some of the predefined Charts in the app, so tapping on the menu at the top will allow you to display Suggested tracks. You can also swipe to the side to bring up the charts.
It would be remiss to not tweet about the music you’re listening to on Twitter’s own music service.
Web: Tweet the track you are listening to by clicking the Compose A Tweet icon in the player at the bottom left of the screen. It brings up an in-window composing tab with the hashtag #NP for “Now Playing”, an artist mention and a URL to the song on iTunes and Twitter #music.
Unfortunately, those components cannot be edited, so you are limited to fewer characters to use in your tweet.
iOS: Tweeting what you are listening to is also simple with the mobile app.
Tap the player on the lower left of the screen to bring up the full Player panel, and tap the Compose A Tweet button at the top right of the panel. And just like with the web version, it brings you to a New Tweet screen with pre-composed hashtags, mentions and URLs that cannot be edited.
The biggest draw of Twitter #music right now is how easy it makes the process of discovering new music, but is currently limited to artists who are on Twitter. With more and more people and artists getting on the service and using the #np hashtag though, #music may soon become the Myspace or Bandcamp for musicians.