Twitter on Thursday waded into the competitive digital music sector with a service that recommends tunes based on what folks are tweeting about and lets users sample songs they might like.
The San Francisco-based firm said Twitter #music would "change the way people find music" by using activity on the popular micro-blogging site to "detect and surface the most popular tracks and emerging artists."
"It also brings artists' music-related Twitter activity front and center. And, of course, you can tweet songs right from the app," Stephen Philips wrote in a company blog post.
Twitter users can get 30-second samples of songs from iTunes, Spotify or Rdio music services, but the default provider is Apple's online iTunes shop.
"So, if you're interested in the songs that have been tweeted by the artists and people you follow on Twitter, you can navigate to #NowPlaying to view and listen to those songs," Philips wrote.
Twitter #music applications for Internet web browsers and Apple mobile devices meanwhile let users see what songs are hot and get recommendations based on their tastes, according to Rdio.
Another version of the application is being created for mobile devices powered by Google-backed Android software, according to Twitter.
"We're thrilled to be part of the new Twitter Music experience - it's built for music discovery," Rdio said in a release.
The service was rolled out on Twitter in Canada, Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and the United States and is slated to expand to more countries.
Users share new songs at Twitter every day, and many of the most-followed accounts are those of musicians, according to Philips.
But Forrester analyst James McQuivey suggested that while Twitter has delivered an "elegant" experience at #music, the company is likely more focused on keeping users engaged and gathering data than selling digital tunes.
"Twitter has not built the future of music; but that wasn't the point," McQuivey said in a blog post.
"Instead, Twitter is building the future of Twitter's customer relationship."
By providing users with more ways to express their interests and tastes Twitter gleans insights into what they will want, and keeping users engaged opens doors to making money with ads or other means, according to McQuivey.
"In a digitally disrupted world, the most important asset you have is a digital customer relationship that connects to customers as frequently as possible and generates as much of a data trail as possible," McQuivey said.
"Twitter has spent years doing this for millions of users, many of them who touch the service daily."
He added that if the music service proves to be a hit, Twitter could one day compete directly with the partners it enlisted to roll it out.
Nearly half the people in the United States listen to Internet radio or music streamed online by services, according to industry-tracker eMarketer.
The number of people around the world using Twitter monthly has climbed to more than 200 million since the one-to-many messaging service launched in 2006.
Twitter is expected to take in $582.8 million globally in ad revenue this year in a significant leap from the $288.3 million the private company took in last year, eMarketer forecast.