Pitchfork has a long feature on the impact that Twitter has had on music (and vice versa) and it’s heavy on the social repercussions and controversy caused when acts take control of their own communication.
The tone is set right from the off with the thesis that Music Twitter officially started the day Kanye West posted about a meeting in “Silicone Valley” and then responded to his own tweet with “Lol I spelled Silicon wrong ( I guess I was still thinking about the other type of silicone ITS A PROCESS!! : )” (on 28th July 2010).
There are interesting points about the communication and self-branding revolution it triggered and the impact of “ambient awareness” is causes (i.e. a kind of faux closeness that develops when you are regularly exposed to someone’s rolling updates). There are interesting stories on the background to Twitter and why its founders wanted it to be deeply embedded in music from the off and how the company tried to court musicians and music brands in those early days. It is also interesting on the push and pull dynamics between the founders’ slightly different visions for it (a status update machine versus a platform for global conversations).
There is also plenty on the darker side – notably in-fighting, misjudged pronouncements, trolling, sending mobs against dissenters and what happens when the curtain between star and fan is ripped down.
Even though there is a love/hate relationship here, music remains key to Twitter. “Judging by the numbers alone, Twitter is more deeply intertwined with music than any other industry,” says Pitchfork. “Four of the top five – and half of the top 20 – most-followed Twitter accounts are solo musicians.”
It is a fascinating read on a platform that – despite the multiple criticisms of it often curdling into a toxic swamp – remains essential for many musicians and much of music marketing.