X’s takeover of @music handle hints toward possible music plans

X, the company formerly known as Twitter, appears to be hinting toward plans to move deeper into the music industry or collaborate with artists and labels with its recent takeover of the @music handle on the social network.

The account was originally operated by software developer Jeremy Vaught, who grew the @music handle to roughly half a million followers. Last week, Vaught posted in anger that X had commandeered the account for itself, 16 years after its 2007 creation.

“Super pissed,” Vaught wrote on X, sharing a screenshot of the email X had sent him informing him of the change.

“The user handle associated with account @Music will be affiliated with X Corp,” X’s email explained to Vaught. “Accordingly, your user handle will be changed to a new user handle,” it read. X also offered to transfer Vaught’s data, including his followers and following lists to a new account of his choosing. At the time, that data had been moved over to @musicfan, but X made a few other suggestions, like @musicmusic, @music123, and @musiclover as potential possibilities.

This isn’t the first time that X has seized control of a user’s account after Elon Musk renamed Twitter to X. However, it is the first time that it took over a user’s account that’s not obviously associated with the “X” branding.

Prior to this, X had taken ownership of the @x handle from its operator, Gene X Hwang of the corporate photography and videography studio Orange Photography, saying it was the property of X Corp. The company thanked Hwang for his loyalty and offered him a selection of X merchandise and a tour of X’s HQ, as a “reflection of our appreciation,” in addition to moving his data to a new handle.

X has also since renamed other Twitter accounts and products, like TweetDeck, which became XPro; Spaces, which became @XSpaces; Business, which became @XBusiness; plus various regional accounts and others. Even X CEO Linda Yaccarino became @lindayaX, post-rebranding.

But Twitter grabbing @music for itself is a suggestion that the company is thinking more seriously about how to become a home to artists and musicians. That’s not a new idea for the social network, but one that failed the last time Twitter tried it.

Image Credits: Twitter / Twitter’s old #Music app

In earlier years, Twitter launched a stand-alone music service with the debut of the #Music app. Launched in 2013, the app was the brainchild of We Are Hunted, a startup Twitter had quietly acquired the prior year. #Music, as the app was called, pulled in users’ music from partners like Spotify and iTunes, then combined that with Twitter data from their following graph to make recommendations.

Despite being one of the better implementations of social music discovery and recommendations at the time, Twitter shut down the app the following year.

Now it appears the @twittermusic handle for this older app has had its data relocated to @music as X’s newly acquired account has 11.5 million followers. (The creation date of September 2011 is still a mystery, however, as Vaught’s account was founded in 2007 and the #Music app launched well before this date.)

Today, @music’s timeline includes tweets and retweets of musicians and their work, including links to YouTube videos. Though it’s not yet clear what grander plan X has in store for @music, the fact that it felt the need to retake the account is likely tied in with the company’s renewed ambitions as a place for creators to gain visibility and get paid for their work. Late last month, for instance, X opened up its revenue-sharing program with global creators, who now share in X’s ad revenue.

The company also began allowing subscribers to upload two-hour videos to its service, which advertiser Apple then leveraged when it released the entire first episode of its hit Apple TV+ show “Silo” on the platform. Fired Fox News host Tucker Carlson had been posting lengthy videos to Twitter as well, until ordered to stop by the network. Could music videos be the next step?

Creators sharing their music would be a natural progression for X’s creator economy ambitions. Plus, collaborations with artists and musicians could see X going up against other social networks, like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok — the latter of which just announced a talent competition for aspiring artists in the hopes of bringing more indie musicians to its platform.

Meanwhile, X competitor’s Threads from Instagram is seemingly challenged in getting artists on board, a recent report by Music Ally noted. It found that the 20 most popular musicians on Instagram weren’t yet using Threads. At the time of the report, 14 of the 20 have yet to set up their Threads profiles, including big names like Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Zendaya, Cardi B, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Drake, Billie Eilish, Lisa (from Blackpink), Dua Lipa and Snoop Dogg.

X, meanwhile, is in the midst of making the social network into an “everything app” that would encompass creators, payments, banking, and possibly stock trading — though Elon Musk denied the latter post-publication of that report. Instead, he’s expressed his interest in transforming the micro-blogging network into a place where people could write longer posts of 25,000 characters, send money to one another, and even store their cash in high-yield accounts on X, in addition to discovering and supporting creators.

Payments or even micro-payments could help fans to support the work of new and emerging indie artists as well, which is where @music could come in.

Or, perhaps, X aims to work with labels to offer its platform for music promotions, get into streaming itself, or allow for the integration of music clips into creators’ content. Or maybe all of the above!

As of yet, X hasn’t yet telegraphed its intentions for X’s new @music handle, but it’s shaping up as one to watch.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *