LOS ANGELES (AP) — Twitter has launched a service that lets people find music they like and tweet songs from iTunes, Spotify and Rdio.
Twitter made the app available for download from Apple's online store and also launched a Web version on Thursday. Twitter said the service will eventually be available on Android devices as well.
The service uses information from Twitter chatter to detect popular tracks as well as new artists. Users who follow musicians can see other artists those musicians follow and can listen to 30-second clips of songs by them.
Tapping the play button on an image of an artist plays a clip from one song picked to represent them. In the case of Gotye, for example, a tap plays a preview of "Eyes Wide Open." Users can tap another button that opens iTunes where they can buy the track. Or they can play full songs by signing up for a $10-a-month subscription from Spotify or Rdio.
While users can tweet what they're listening to and add a few characters of comment, they have to go back to the regular Twitter app for normal Twitter functions. However, the people you're following and who's following you are integrated across both apps.
The music app is strikingly more visually appealing than the regular Twitter app. Squares of photos of artists fill the screen and bounce around in response to swipes. The app also starts a turntable spinning with a little picture of album cover art when playing a song.
For now, the service is only available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
In a blog post, the company said its service "will change the way people find music." It is calling the app (hash)music, following Twitter's practice of using hashtags to organize tweets around topics.
Thursday's announcement about a music service had been expected. "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest tweeted about it last week.
As more music is sold through the recommendations of friends on social networks, observers said it's natural for Twitter to get involved.
"Social media is the current and the next frontier in terms of marketing everything," said Larry Iser, a Los Angeles music lawyer whose firm represents Justin Bieber. "One tweet from Justin Bieber can launch a new product or a new artist. It makes sense Twitter wants to come to the space and do what Myspace has been trying to do for years."
The music service's debut comes less than three months after the release of a Twitter video app called Vine that distributes six-second clips that can be played in a continuous loop.
The expansion into other forms of media besides text and photos is part of Twitter's effort to make its messaging service even more appealing to its more than 200 million monthly users. More frequent usage of the service creates more opportunities to show ads — the main way that Twitter makes money.