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Rhapsody, Twitter inch toward figuring out social listening

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Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Given how deeply music’s woven into most people’s lives, it’s hard to believe that no one’s come up with a way of sharing music over social media that’s caught on in the way that Instagram has for photo sharing. Tech megaliths like Apple and startups like Soundtracking have all tried and failed to reach the necessary critical mass to become the standard for music sharing. 

Rhapsody (which acquired Soundtracking last year) just announced a partnership with Twitter that may have solved the social listening problem. Twitter users, whether they’re Rhapsody subscribers or not, can now share the platform’s entire catalog of 34 million songs using embeddable “cards.” It’s not just clips, either—clicking on a card will let your followers listen to the entire song.

“With the increase in consumption on mobile we’ve always had the view here that music’s gone from a very shared experience to an individual experience,” says Rhapsody CFO and head of A&R Ethan Rudin. “It’s gotten very lonely. We all long for the days when you’d share CDs with your buddies, and they wouldn’t give them back, and that would start a discussion. And in today’s digital world there’s no real easy way to recreate that kind of shared musical discovery and that kind of communal experience.”

For years now Twitter users have had to make due sharing music via YouTube and SoundCloud links, which Rudin calls “imcomplete solutions.”

“If you’re a music fan, and somebody who admires Kendrick Lamar,” he says, “where do you go if they release that on YouTube? Where does it take you next? You can go see a whole bevy of videos of Kendrick Lamar that may or may not be relevant to the journey you want to take.” Rhapsody’s Twitter cards will offer what he terms “calls to action” to explore, say, Kendrick’s deep cuts, or interviews with him, or other artists on Top Dawg Entertainment.

The goal of the partnership, according to Rudin, is to start conversations between people who are otherwise engaged in solitary mobile listening, and hopefully to get people turning each other on to new stuff. “That’s what this is all about: learning.”