Significant change is afoot at social media giant Twitter.
Within a week of closing his $44 billion acquisition of the company, Elon Musk has started implementing a major overhaul at the platform.
Musk, on October 27, completed his go-private takeover of Twitter. He then proceeded to make sweeping changes at the company including widespread layoffs and the official announcement of a new subscription service called Twitter Blue, which will cost $7.99 monthly, for a verification checkmark and other features.
Looking at Twitter’s upcoming changes through a music industry lens, one of the most interesting updates of all is the news that Musk plans to offer monetization to “content creators” via a new (as-of-yet unspecified) revenue-sharing model.
Musk, in an interview at the Baron Investment Conference on Friday (November 4), said that he’s considering introducing long-form videos on Twitter and allowing creators to monetize their content — in what could prove to be a move to challenge platforms such as YouTube that operate revenue-sharing models for creators.
“We can also start sharing revenue with content creators, which is essential,” Musk told Ron Baron, founder, Chairman and CEO of Baron Capital.
Musk then criticized Twitter’s current inability to host its own longer-form videos.
He noted that, to date, a lot of posts on the platform link out to YouTube and TikTok because Twitter does not offer users sufficient on-platform video lengths to post their clips.
For content creators, that in turn means no way to monetize their videos on Twitter.
“We are going to change that rapidly at Twitter. That’s going to be transformative,” the Tesla and SpaceX founder told Baron.
In a tweet following his appearance at the conference, Musk confirmed that “Twitter will also soon add [the] ability to attach long-form text to tweets, ending the absurdity of notepad screenshots”.
In a follow-up tweet over the weekend, he noted that this will be “Followed by creator monetization for all forms of content”.
Musk did not elaborate on his revenue-sharing plans for content creators, but it could pave the way for Twitter to become a serious new revenue source for music rightsholders, artists, and creators.
Twitter and the music industry have long had a fractious relationship, with the platform often criticized for turning a blind eye to music copyright infringement.
Back in February, the IFPI branded Twitter as “a significant concern to the music industry”.
“Twitter stores and gives the public access to a large amount of copyright-protected content and is a major platform for distributing infringing music content, both audio and video,” the IFPI said in its subsmission to the EU Counterfeit and Piracy Watchlist Consultation at the time.
Last year, a bipartisan group of over US lawmakers sent a letter to Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who was CEO at the time, demanding the social media platform address its lack of music licenses.
Earlier this year, when news about Musk’s Twitter acquisition started to emerge, Amusica Song Management CEO Ran Geffen asked in an MBW op/ed if Elon Musk was set to “save the music industry”, by democratizing the way music is licensed.
It’s fair to say that the prospect of Musk single-handedly ‘saving’ the music industry raised a few bewildered reader responses at the time.
Yet it’s certainly true that the launch of monetized music content on Twitter – via the new much-debated Twitter Blue subscription model – could provide a serious new revenue stream for music rights-holders amid a challenging wider global economic climate.
Elon Musk also told Baron over the weekend that he was bullish about Twitter’s commercial future, saying it “could be one of the most valuable companies in the world”.
Starting today, we’re adding great new features to Twitter Blue, and have more on the way soon.
Get Twitter Blue for $7.99/month if you sign up now
Blue checkmark: Power to the people: Your account will get a blue checkmark, just like the celebrities, companies, and politicians you already follow.
The update is available to iOS users in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK.
Twitter also hinted at new upcoming features for Twitter Blue subscribers including reduced ads, priority ranking for replies, mentions and searches, and the ability to post longer videos.
The launch of Twitter Blue also comes as Musk seeks to weed out spams, bots and trolls on the platform, as well as organizations that attempt to manipulate public opinion.
The answer to that challenge, according to Musk, is “to get as many regular users on Twitter to be a subscriber for $8 a month.”
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