iRadio and music.twitter.com ing soon

Visit music.twitter.com and you’ll see a “Coming Soon” message that confirms the long running rumour that – perhaps in answer to Spotfy’s growing relationship with Facebook – Twitter will be releasing their own music app. The move follows Twitter’s recent acquisition of the Australian music discovery site We Are Hunted, who in the last few days have replaced their home page with the announcement:

“While we are shutting down wearehunted.com, we will continue to create services that will delight you, as part of the Twitter team.

There’s no question that Twitter and music go well together. Artists turn to Twitter first to connect with fans, and people share and discover new songs and albums every day. We can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on at Twitter.”

Major Twitterites have been given early access to the app as anticipation builds. The American Idol host, Ryan Seacrest, tweeted “Playing with twitter’s new music app (yes it’s real!)”

Of course Apple aren’t in the habit of sitting around watching the other players capitalise on the big trend of the time, and make no mistake, the way that people listen to music is one of the biggest shifts in consumer behaviour today. NME reported a breathtaking 700% increase in music streaming in 2012.

So with this inexorable wave (or should I say stream) swamping the music industry, Apple have been in negotiations with two of the three major record labels, Universal Music and Warner Music, in an attempt to lay the foundations for their own streaming service, expected (of course) to be named iRadio.

So which represents the real threat to the status quo, Apple’s iRadio or Twitter’s …. whatever they call it? In all probability, the Twitter offering will just be a niche, recommendation service that allows users to listen to emerging artists based on who they follow. So while it is expected to enhance the Twitter experience for music fans, it’s unlikely to disrupt the broader market. iRadio on the other hand, is a very different proposition.

Given Apple’s existing dominance in the retail market through iTunes, one can’t help but think that it won’t take them long to calve out a substantial slice of the streaming market too. However, iTunes also represents their greatest dilemma. The streaming market is increasingly characterised by subscription services that allow users to listen to as many tracks as many times as their busy ear drums can handle. To replicate this offering – and it seems unlikely that they won’t given that it’s evidently what users want – would be to declare war on its own iTunes service; why pay for a single track if you can listen to it as often as you like on iRadio?

For that reason it’s difficult to see the two Apple products co-existing harmoniously, but perhaps Apple believe it’s better to be active in two conflicting markets than it is to dominate one and vainly hope that the other goes away, which clearly it will not.

Dan