Twitter is dipping its toes into the music discovery business with the launch of a service that lets you listen to songs that friends are sharing on the micro-blog.
A little more than a month after CNET first reported that Twitter was working on a stand-alone music discovery app and a week after that app was rolled out to an invite-only group of celebrities and others -- including Ryan Seacrest -- the general public can now get its hands on the music discovery app.
Twitter officially unveiled #music on Thursday during "Good Morning America." The company later provided more details about the service in a blog post, saying people can download the iOS app via Apple's App Store or access the Web version at music.twitter.com. Twitter noted early Thursday that the app will first be available in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, and that the Web version will be rolling out over the next few hours.
Twitter #music will reach more countries and Android over time, the company said.
"Twitter and music go great together," Twitter said in its blog post.
Last week, Twitter launched its music site, but in the first days, invites were extremely limited. And for those without one, a visit to music.twitter.com revealed nothing but Twitter's famous bird icon and a "Coming soon" tease.
Twitter is aggressively ramping up its ties to the entertainment world. Thursday's news gives it a foothold in the music business, and a recent report from Bloomberg suggested that Twitter may soon cut deals with NBC and Viacom to feature those networks' TV content -- and run ads against it. Last November, Twitter announced that veteran Hollywood executive Peter Chernin had joined its board.
The #music app uses Twitter activity, including tweets and other engagement, to detect the most popular tracks and emerging artists, Twitter said. It also brings artists' music-related Twitter activity front and center, Twitter said, allowing users to visit artists' profiles to see what musicians they follow and what music they like. Users also can tweet songs right from the app.
Twitter currently gathers its music from three sources: iTunes, Spotify, and Rdio. By default, users hear previews from iTunes when exploring music in the app, and Rdio and Spotify subscribers can log in to their accounts to listen to full tracks available through those services. Twitter noted that it will continue to explore and add other music services.
Rdio, meanwhile, said in a blog post that while only subscribers can access full tracks through its service, anyone can listen to 30-second previews of songs. It also offers a free 14-day trial of its Rdio Unlimited mobile app for users to try before subscribing.
Twitter's app has several basic tabs designed to make it easy for users to navigate. #NowPlaying shows which songs have been tweeted by artists and by the people that a user follows. The "Suggested" tab gives recommendations of artists a user might like, and a "Popular" tab shows which new songs are trending on Twitter. The "Profile" tab shows which artists a person follows. To see which artists another person follows, search for someone's name and then open that person's profile.
To share songs with followers, users can tap a spinning disc in the lower left corner of the app. That opens the player and allows users to tweet using an icon in the top right corner.
CNET senior writer Daniel Terdiman contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on CNET under the headline "Finally, Twitter Music is available to all."