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It’s quite possible you don’t want a daily blow-by-blow account of what Elon Musk is doing and saying as the newly-installed owner and CEO of Twitter. We’d be very happy with a few Musk-free days ourselves!

However, Twitter is still an important social-media platform for so many artists, and the concerted blast of innovation/disruption/chaos (delete according to preference) is un-ignorable.

To set the scene: yesterday we reported on the announcement of a new ‘Official’ label for selected Twitter profiles, including government accounts, companies and brands, major media outlets, publishers and “some public figures” (including musicians).

It would take the form of a grey label below the username on profiles, and would be separate to the blue verification checkmark that can now be bought for $8 a month. A good idea, perhaps, but… oh wait.

“I just killed it,” tweeted Musk, a few hours after the label had been announced and started to roll out. “Blue check will be the great leveler.” Twitter’s head of early-stage products Esther Crawford, who’d made the initial announcement, followed up.

“There are no sacred cows in product at Twitter anymore. Elon is willing to try lots of things – many will fail, some will succeed,” she wrote.
“The official label is still going out as part of the @TwitterBlue launch – we are just focusing on government and commercial entities to begin with. What you saw him mention was the fact that we’re not focusing on giving individuals the “Official” label right now.”

I just killed it

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 9, 2022

That’s not great news for prominent musicians, who are among the category of Twitter users most likely to be impersonated under the new buy-a-checkmark system.

It’s already happening to athletes and political figures as trolls test the limits of Twitter’s new system, and while these accounts have been suspended within a few hours once their tweets started to gain momentum… well, a few hours is plenty of time to sow confusion and reputational damage.

While all this was happening, Musk was addressing advertisers in a Twitter Space, explaining that verified (paying) users’ tweets will appear higher in people’s Twitter feeds than unverified, comparing it to the way Gmail separates spam from priority emails.

“You can still look at all the others, but it will default to the highly relevant category which will be verified,” said Musk. Another red flag for any musicians who don’t plan to spend $8 a month for Twitter Blue and its verification checkmark. Twitter’s new boss seemingly sees their posts as junk tweets, and they’ll be treated as such on-platform.

But hey, he wants to help musicians who do pay for Twitter Blue to make money. Musk outlined his desire to make Twitter’s subscription tier the basis for a new system of ‘creator payments’ – for example the ability to paywall individual tweets and videos, and even to connect their bank accounts to Twitter so that they can be paid directly.

A workable plan, or a stray thought that will be u-turned on in short order? Who knows. But Twitter and Musk may have some even bigger distractions ahead, as shown by a quote from US president Joe Biden yesterday.

(Not the “im over here stroking my dick i got lotion on my dick rn” quote. That was from a newly-verified account pretending to be the president, complete with a blue checkmark.)

What did he think was gonna happen

— Screamer Jim (@HeheWaitWhut) November 9, 2022

No, the actual Biden told reporters yesterday that “I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at”.

Whether that means investors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar; partners for his other businesses in China; heaven-knows-what connections in Russia, or a combination of all of these is unclear. Musicians who’ve built strong audiences on Twitter can only watch, wait, and boggle at the ongoing developments.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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