Twitter Inc., the Web-based social messaging service, is developing a mobile music application that will let its users play and share songs on Apple Inc. devices, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The app will stream music from SoundCloud Ltd., a Berlin- based audio-sharing service, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the plan hasn't been announced. Twitter last year acquired digital-media startup We Are Hunted as part of its push into music, a person said.
Twitter is going beyond 140-character messages as it vies with social-networking rivals to get users to spend more time on its site. The company released a video app in January. Adding music would give record companies a way to promote new tracks by taking advantage of Twitter's word-of-mouth network.
Internet users increasingly rely on social networks to find new music as streaming services such as Spotify Ltd. and Rdio Inc. let subscribers share songs and playlists through Facebook. The dominant social network last week updated its news feed to make it easier to discover music.
SoundCloud lets artists and music labels make songs available to users, who can then listen and make notations on the tracks. The partnership would let Twitter users share those songs using their mobile phones, said a person familiar with the matter.
Executives at two major record labels first learned of Twitter's plans today, after CNET reported the development of a music app, according to two people close to the companies. It wasn't clear whether Twitter would need separate agreements with music labels for a service with SoundCloud.
Twitter's purchase of We Are Hunted, also reported by CNET, hasn't been announced, and terms of the deal couldn't be determined.
Carolyn Penner, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based Twitter, declined to comment on the development of a music app. Kristina Weise, a spokeswoman for SoundCloud, also declined to comment.
Twitter looks to improve its case for an eventual initial public offering, as it adds new products and bolsters its management bench. Ali Rowghani was promoted to chief operating officer in December, the same time Mike Gupta became chief financial officer. Twitter hasn't disclosed plans for an initial public offering.
Adam Messinger, a veteran of Oracle Corp. who joined Twitter in 2011, was recently promoted to the role of chief technical officer, Penner said.
In January, Twitter introduced a new app for creating and sharing six-second videos via mobile phones. The app was created by another startup acquired by Twitter, called Vine.