Twitter’s big play in music started in an unexpected place: Stephen Phillips, product manager for Twitter’s new #music app, revealed at the 13th SF Musictech Summit in San Francisco Tuesday that his team worked above an auto body shop in San Fransico’s Mission district for months, intentionally separated from Twitter’s main offices. “We were actually hidden from Twitter,” Phillips said, adding that most people within Twitter didn’t know about the app until right before its public launch.
However, Twitter didn’t keep the development of the app hidden from everyone. Phillips said that his impromptu office above that body shop in the Mission had some regular visitors: Engineers from Spotify and Rdio were working side-by-side in the small office to integrate their music subscription services with the app. That kind of integration also enables users to share across the boundaries of these otherwise siloed services. “We were the first company to seamlessly move between those services,” he said.
Twitter built its #music app with a small team that came to the company from Wearehunted, an Australia-based startup that was co-founded by Phillips and that had been working on social music sharing around five years. News about Twitter buying We Are Hunted broke in March, and the company launched its #music app for iOS in April.
Phillips seemed very bullish on music subscriptions, arguing that the timing is right for access-based music services: “(This) could be the year that subscriptions go mainstream,” he said, adding that Google’s (s GOOG) move towards subscriptions adds further momentum to the trend. Phillips added that Twitter also wanted to work with subscription services to enable users to listen to whole songs, and not just sample snippets.
So why not just launch a dedicated music subscription service for Twitter users? “We want to be a sharing experience,” and not a listening experience, Phillips said.