✘ Reimagining Twitter #music
And: Defining resilience in music ecosystems; Emma McGann on pushing tech boundaries; How gaming could reshape music distribution; Has streaming killed the one-hit wonder?
Twitter is in the doldrums and nobody quite knows what to make of the current state of the platform and where it might or could go. It’s fun, however, to think about that last part - how could Twitter develop? To answer that question, I’ll do two things: 1) I’ll highlight some of the areas where Twitter currently plays a major role in terms of communication and dissemination and distribution of knowledge; 2) I’ll take you back almost ten years in time to the launch of Twitter #music and explain what a relaunch could mean right now.
Twitter’s strength is the network
From the beginning, Twitter’s main strength has been the fact it’s an open platform where people can connect and share information. More recently, one of its layers of energy has been to connect people within a niche and allow for that niche to spread out through the networks of the people involved. This is evidenced by the active nature of, for example, the Web3 and AI/ML communities. Much of the daily discourse for these communities gets created on Twitter and then pushed into Spaces, long-form writing, or concrete projects.
When we consider how wedded we are to Twitter in certain subcultures it can be hard to imagine a world where we would connect through other means. Twitter is the place we are because it’s where our network is. Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter, there’s a lot of noise about ‘where to go next.’ But the hard thing is not another platform - platforms are relatively easy to set up. The almost impossible task is to get people to come with you. As Nathan Baschez wrote in his article about Twitter as a city-state:
“Throughout history it’s been more common for people to reform the power structures that govern their territory, rather than seek out new territory altogether.”
Looking at Twitter as a shared territory allows us to reimagine what we could do with that territory and it’s something that isn’t new but which Twitter itself actually tried almost 10 years ago.
Twitter #music 2013
Back in 2013, Twitter launched Twitter #music, a social platform designed to help people discover new music. The app was built on the idea that music discovery is social and that the people you followed would be a good guide to the music you might like.
The idea didn’t work. You could argue it was ahead of its time - the social graph that would allow such an app to be successful didn’t really exist in 2013. But mainly, it focused too much on celebrities and not enough on the everyday music fan. Moreover, in creating a separate app they overcomplicated the user experience. And, finally, people didn’t need Twitter #music to discover music - there were so many other ways to do this already. The fact that people followed their favourite artists on Twitter didn’t mean they also wanted to discover new music through an affiliated app.
Twitter #music reborn edition
Right now, though, there’s a whole crypto music subculture that tends to connect first through Twitter. With the addition of Spaces musicians from all corners of the globe can huddle together and share their music, shill their NFTs, and make friendships. At the same time, we’re all struggling with discovery. Speaking from a personal perspective, there’s always people in Spaces that I’ve never heard of who make cool music or build cool projects.
Here’s where a relaunched Twitter #music could step in and serve a genuine purpose within the crypto music community and beyond. The key, I think, would be to focus on the niche and to use the existing power of the Twitter network to drive discovery. So, what could that look like? Here are some ideas:
create a way to follow music or songs connected to specific artists or simply people who love a track, artist, or album. This will help move the social graph away from celebrity and keep it focused on music.
what you could then end up with is a group of people around the same song or artist. These could then be automatically grouped together into a community list or something similar so they could dive in and see what other tracks or artists people like.
there’s an easy way to incorporate direct monetization by leading out to where an artist can be supported. This can, of course, be through NFTs, but also simply a link-in-bio style tool that also collects things like a Bandcamp link or a Shopify-style integration on an artist’s own website.
None of these ideas are ground-breaking, nor are they unavailable through other apps or tools. What is interesting is implementing them in Twitter through a kind of relaunched Twitter #music. It is where the network already sits and acts. It’s just that this network can be strengthened by creating better ways for connections and discoveries to take place.
⚛️ Defining resilience in music ecosystems (Center for Music Ecosystems)
“The concept of music ecosystems reflects an understanding of the music sector as an ecosystem in the most literal sense. In nature, ecosystems are defined as a collection of organisms and their physical environment (e.g. mountains and rivers, but also less tangible elements such as air temperature or altitude) and the way they interact with each other. Music ecosystems have a similar structure – they are the collection of actors within a specific music sector (e.g. labels, musicians, audience, etc.), the infrastructure (venues, digital, etc.) and surrounding variables, such as cultural identity or sound regulation. Music ecosystems are generally not isolated from the rest of the world, but intersect with other sectors, for example the tourism industry or urban development.”
✘ Having written before here in MUSIC x about resilience, this report really takes it to another level. In depth research on three localities and a great set of recommendations and an actionable toolkit.
“This is a theme running through McGann’s career: a willingness to jump in and experiment with new technologies, but as part of her creative process rather than as marketing gimmicks.”
✘ There’s a lot of great advice and take aways here from how Emma McGann has experimented with various things to grow and engage her community and create music. But the quote above has the key element: experiment but do it in a way that suits you and fits your creative mode of operation.
🕹️ How gaming could reshape music distribution (Roman Rappak)
“It’s the moment where the music industry stops being the gaming industry’s less wealthy, less healthy little brother; when we can finally stop thinking of music fans and gamers as two separate demographics; and when we can reward artists and music industry professionals fairly.”
✘ I’m really with this idea that music & gaming will mesh together more and more over the next few years as developers take on music and artists take on world-building.
🦋 ‘Ultimately, you’re in the hands of the public’: has streaming killed the one-hit wonder? (Rhian Jones)
“Once artists do sign on the dotted line, there’s no guarantee of commitment. One music manager, who wanted to remain anonymous, says it’s taken a while to get the major record label for a young act she’s working with, who had a viral hit, to engage in a long-term plan.”
✘ It sounds like a new story, but the message is basically that things haven’t actually changed that much!
“With so much to say, Line Katcho has never shied away from finding modes of expression that expanded her range and deepened the contours of her expression. From a classical piano background, she went back to school to study electroacoustics and then widened her palette to include graphic and visual composition. XR art now allows her a horizon-expanding venture into 3D design.”
I always think funk and more beats and bass-oriented genres are actually very closely related and the new album of remixes by FSQ show just that. The remixes range across the genre-spectrum but my favourite is this italo disco one by DJ Rocca