The new Twitter #Music app has a beautiful, intuitive interface – popular, up-and-coming and shared songs arranged in iTunes-style wallpaper squares, each begging to be clicked. If only it worked properly.
Today's the big release day after almost a week of hype, some involving Ryan Seacrest and Coachella. The browser app went up around 10 a.m. EST, at which point I clicked the giant 'play' button at the bottom left to begin sampling all kinds of artists: Neko Case, Demi Lovato, Pink and Psy (under "Popular"); Low, Frank Turner, Beach House and Kodaline ("Emerging") and Justin Timberlake, Kacey Chambers and Foster the People ("Suggested"). I like the "Artists You Follow" tab, which allows me to instantly sample Public Enemy's Chuck D, Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Rosanne Cash and, er, Richard Marx (hey, the man is funny). If Twitter's trying to get me to follow more artists, it's working. I sense power for artists: they'll get more followers this way if their music is good and they're smart with social media. But one frustration is that only certain songs appear for each artist, so upon clicking play on my "Artists You Follow" page and letting it ride, I've heard the "22" snippet four times.
Unfortunately, as of this writing, I'm unable to listen to full tracks using the desktop app. It claims to allow Spotify and Rdio premium-service users to sync their accounts, but I have only a Spotify account, and attempts to log in via Twitter #Music all morning led to an "unknown error" pop-up menu. I'm not alone in this frustration: "TWITTER MUSIC SPOTIFY UNKNOWN ERROR DERP," reads one of many #GreatStart and #fail tweets.
Back to that 'play' button: it's my favorite feature so far. I love Spotify but, like many music fans, I sometimes feel paralyzed with indecision over what to play. I don't like its "What's New" choices, and there's no great radio-style way to sample new music. (For this, on Spotify, you need to download an app within the app, like Soundrop or, excuse the plug, Rolling Stone Recommends.) This is also difficult in iTunes, of course, which involves buying and downloading songs. Twitter #Music is the most seamless streaming app I've seen yet to invite the click-click-click impulsiveness of the digital-music era – I can immediately hear a song that seems attractive, then buy it quickly on iTunes or tweet about it. Once Spotify synchronization kicks in, I imagine I'll spend a lot of time here.
Twitter #Music's iPhone app is less glitchy and more exciting. Here, I was able to quickly sync with Spotify and play Miguel's "How Many Drinks?" in seconds. I'm not sure yet whether Twitter #Music is a more efficient way to use Spotify mobile – I envision having to follow a lot more artists on Twitter for it to be useful. (The "Now Playing" section of Twitter #Music has potential but since it's so new, nobody is sharing music this way, so my page came up blank – I assume this will change as it catches on.) Also, one distinct difference between Twitter #Music and Facebook Music is that Twitter encourages users to actively share songs they like, while Facebook encourages them to passively share songs through Spotify, Rdio and others, simply by syncing accounts and playing music.
My favorite thing about Twitter #Music is the mobile interface, especially the tiny artist icon spinning around like a record while a song plays. (Note: Downloading the iPhone app is mildly cumbersome and Android apps aren't available yet. At least for now, I have to download the app via desktop iTunes and wait for it to sync to my device.) Twitter Music is splashy and fun to play with, and will be even more so once it repairs the unfortunate Spotify glitch. Whether it's more fun and efficient on Twitter than plain old sharing-of-the-YouTube-URLs is something users will decide in the next few days.