There’s no debating that Twitter is big in the music game – for starters, six of its top ten most followed profiles belong to musicians, with Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift laying claim to the top three. Secondly, a quick scroll through the Twitter activity of these artists is enough to point out that it has rapidly evolved from a basic fan-hub into a fundamental PR tool. It seems the question of Twitter’s significance when it comes to music is not so much if, but rather, how?

The question arises from what many have described as Twitter’s failed music strategy, which refers primarily to the somewhat underwhelming – and incredibly short-lived – Twitter music app that was launched in 2013. The social network had hoped to bring users a new way of discovering music, but alas, #Music failed to make its mark and was scrapped a year later.

Whilst the app died a rather quick and unfortunate death, Twitter’s relationship with music certainly didn’t end there. In fact, one of the app’s major downfalls is ironically the very thing that has enabled Twitter itself to become so pivotal in the industry. One of the biggest issues with #Music was that it failed to integrate smoothly into Twitter itself, instead requiring users to navigate away from the platform – ultimately contradicting the quick-fire seamlessness that Twitter is all about. So a separate music experience didn’t work, but flowing, real-time discussions do, and it’s as a conversation-enabler that Twitter has been able to assert its power.

As it turns out, the one thing we love almost as much as discovering new music is discussing it, and this has not gone unnoticed by those in the business. In much the same way that streaming has revolutionized the traditional album release model, Twitter has transformed PR. At the end of last year, Justin Bieber used the social networking site to create plenty of hype around his Purpose album release, unveiling a series of custom emojis for each track during a Twitter listening party. Twitter also had a part to play in the pre-launch strategy for Drake’s latest album Views, being the rapper’s platform of choice on which to reveal the cover artwork for the first time. Both Bieber and Drake – and many other artists just like them – recognize Twitter’s unrivalled capacity to get the conversation started, making it the go-to platform for generating the kind of buzz that leads to millions of sales.

This is not to say that Twitter’s foray into the music industry begins and ends purely with conversation. The introduction of the Player Card at the end of 2014 added a new dimension to the Twitter experience, with artists now able to embed audio and video clips into tweets. Most importantly, users can play these clips without navigating away from the platform – providing a seamless experience where #Music failed to do so. As this 1&1 blog post explains, normal brands can make use of Twitter cards to turn followers into website visitors, yet the Player Card largely exists to help artists to convert followers into listeners.

So, what does Twitter have to do with music? Quite a lot, actually. It currently represents the most direct route between artists and fans, and its capacity to generate real-time conversations that go viral in minutes makes it utterly indispensable for the majority of artists. One exception to this rule is, of course, Beyoncé, who hasn’t tweeted since 2013, and as Azealia Banks’ recent suspension from Twitter shows, the site is not without its pitfalls. Either way, there’s no denying that Twitter is a highly relevant – not to mention extremely powerful – industry tool.