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Getting started with Twitter Music

Twitter launched its new music service aimed to help you expand your musical taste. We take a look at getting started with it.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Thursday morning Twitter finally revealed its new music service (branded #music) for all to see and use. The new service will allow Twitter users to see which songs and artists are currently trending on the social network. So what is Twitter Music, and how does it work? Let's take a look.

How you access Twitter Music

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Currently, there are two options to use Twitter Music. You can access it through the Web site at or by downloading the free iPhone app. Android users are once again left out in the cold by Twitter, at least for the time being. What gives?

Once you visit the site or launch the app you'll need to connect your Twitter account to the service. Doing so will help you discover new music and artists through a few different methods. You'll find music broken up into five categories both on the site and in the app. They are:

  • Popular
  • Emerging
  • Suggested
  • #NowPlaying
  • Me

Each category takes a different approach to recommending songs and artists for you. The first two are more of a "what's hot" list than anything. The Suggested category takes music artists you follow and suggests new music based on that. The #NowPlaying category will show you what the people you follow are listening to, based on their tweets from the service or with the hash tag.

You can also search for your favorite artist to see who they follow in the music scene and discover new artists that way.

Listening to music on Twitter Music

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

By default any music you listen to will be a short preview provided by iTunes. But if you're a Spotify premium or a paid Rdio user, you can connect your account and listen to full songs. I tried connecting a nonpaid Rdio account to Twitter Music and was able to still preview songs, which were then added to my Rdio history. Adding a nonpremium Spotify account isn't possible. You can find the button to connect your accounts in the top-right corner on the Web site, or in the app settings menu on the iPhone app.

If you want to listen to a song, you either click or tap on the tile. You can continue to browse through the rest of the suggestions on the site or in the app. In the lower-left corner you'll see a play control where you can pause or skip a particular track. You're also able to compose a tweet from anywhere by using the same control and clicking on the compose icon that pops out when your mouse hovers over the icon.

Once a preview has finished, or a full song if you've connected an account, the playlist will move to the next artist listed. You won't be able to listen to more than one song or preview from a particular artist unless it's listed on the service.

Following artists

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

When you're browsing music and find a new artist you like, you can follow them with one tap. The follow button will become visible as your mouse moves over a tile, or once you highlight a tile in the iPhone app.

Remember, the whole point of Twitter Music is to help you discover music, not to replace your existing music apps (thus the one song per artist limit). The service is reminiscent of MySpace and how it helped music acts get discovered, but it's still too early to see if this will have the same impact.