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Twitter music service makes public debut

App, web page let users share clips and link to full songs

Twitter's music service made its public debut Thursday when the app appeared on iTunes and the company pulled back the curtains on

The service, the latest offering from Twitter that aims to give its 200 million active users a more engaged multimedia experience, uses Twitter activity to highlight popular tracks, introduce new songs and emerging artists, and connect fans with musicians. According to a company blog post, users can tweet songs directly from the application and view suggestions for new tunes. A NowPlaying feature lets users view and listen to the same songs their friends are tweeting about.

The official launch ends a week of speculation after Twitter released the service "by invite-only" and posted a static music Web page on April 11. A select group of celebrity Twitter users got first access to build hype, and "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest did his part by promptly tweeting that he had used the app to start a dance party.

The free service is now available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. While the app is currently only for the iPhone, Twitter said it has plans to bring it to Android as well.

The service was welcomed by musicians, who get another platform to promote their work. Other big winners are music services Spotify and Rdio, which have integrated with Twitter for the music-playing portion of the service. Users have the option to play either a few-seconds clip of a song on iTunes, or to use the service with Spotify or Rdio to play the full track and an entire playlist.

Anthony Mullen, an analyst with Forrester Research, said the new service is "an astute move" and will appeal across the board to music newbies, DJs and performing artists.

"Twitter's ability to personalize has always been there, but with the music recommendation service, they can really begin to get going," Mullen wrote in a statement. "Twitter has the big data skills to do something good here."

But Russ Crupnick of the NPD Group cautions that the music service landscape is already pretty crowded. From Pandora to Grooveshark and Rhapsody, consumers have plenty of options, and Twitter may have a battle to pull ahead of the competition.