September 26, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Guest Opinion: Twitter Can Make Money from iTunes, But Its Power Is Overstated

Brandon Mendelson

Brandon Mendelson

The following is a guest post from Brandon Mendelson, author of Social Media Is Bullshit, who contacted editor Eliot Van Buskirk via Twitter. Mendelson has 770,681 Twitter followers.

I was reading your post earlier about Twitter making money through iTunes, and I think you’re right. [ed. note: I am.] This is going to make them some cash, especially because Twitter is now deeply embedded into iOS and on Mountain Lion (and probably all platforms going forward from Apple until they get bored, get pissed at Twitter [see: Google], or want to compete with them.)

But how much cash is something that I thought about, and that’s what made me throw up the red flag here. On a GOOD day we’re talking about 4,000,000 Americans who “actively” use Twitter, 40 percent of whom just log in to read stuff. And it’s questionable whether or not Twitter counts “active” users like Facebook, where if you “like” something outside of Facebook, they count you as active. With Twitter, are they counting just logging in as active too?

It’s very likely, because of the user demographics of Twitter (they’re either very young, very educated, or live in a major city like NY, which has the highest userbase of Twitter users anywhere in the world) that you can count them in to buy songs through the affiliate links. But I don’t think it’s going to be the financial windfall Twitter, as a company, will now play up as they prepare for their own IPO.

I also think bands who aren’t on a major label, or who aren’t already well known in some capacity, aren’t really going to be able to benefit from this because what’s more likely to happen is that if they start spitting out affiliate links, it’s going to turn people away — unless they’re well known, in which case it’ll have the opposite effect.

I just thought I’d throw this out to you. I think Twitter is great, but sometimes these little bubbles come up and, in the wrong hands, they can be dangerous and harmful, so I feel the need to pop them.