15 November
2010

Why Ping?

We recently wrote about iTunes new(ish) Ping platform, Apple’s own stab at social networking. Apple trumpeted a rapid take-up rate claiming that “millions of users” have adopted its new service which allows you to “follow your favourite artists”. However recent reports suggest that arduous sign-up procedures and a neglect of the indie sector means that only 2,000 artists have signed up to Ping, with many suggesting that this signals the failure of Apple to capitalise on the gap left by the ailing Myspace.

But is that really the case? Are artists truly clamouring at the gates of Ping, howling to be let in and lamenting the cataclysmic loss of sales which results from their exclusion? I suspect probably not. And there are reasons for that.

Something to remember #1:

Let’s make no mistake about it. The purpose of iTunes is to sell stuff. It’s a store, not a social network. All the social media decorations of Ping are only that, decoration. iTunes’ core is not social, its core is commerce, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

Something to remember #2:
iTunes already offers ‘artist pages’ which are distinct from Ping profiles.

With those two points in mind, let’s take a typical indie artist and think about how they may approach the relationship between iTunes and their fans.

Danny Byrd is signed to large independent dance music label Hospital Records. With a solid underground following and recent top 40 success he is exactly the sort of artist best placed to take advantage of everything Ping offers. But why would he push fans to his Ping page rather than his artist page? Here’s a quick comparison of the two iTunes points of presence for an artist like Danny.

Ping profile

Artist page

Discovery
Danny Byrd artist page: www.itunes.com/dannybyrd
Danny Byrd Ping profile: http://c.itunes.apple.com/gb/profile/id-10926

Can I listen to Danny’s music?
Danny Byrd artist page: Yes
Danny Byrd Ping profile: No

Can I buy Danny’s music?
Danny Byrd artist page: Yes
Danny Byrd Ping profile: No

Can I read Danny’s biography?
Danny Byrd artist page: Yes
Danny Byrd Ping profile: Yes

Easy to share on Facebook / Twitter?
Danny Byrd artist page: Yes
Danny Byrd Ping profile: No

“Listeners also bought / like” ?
Danny Byrd artist page: Yes
Danny Byrd Ping profile: No

Alert me when the artist has new music?
Danny Byrd artist page: Yes
Danny Byrd Ping profile: No

and so on…

Framed in those terms why would an artist ever direct fans to their Ping page?
If we assume that, when given the choice, an artists priority is to sell their music rather than create yet more shallow social network ‘relationships’, (which are notoriously difficult to convert to sales, despite what excitable social media ‘experts’ may try and tell you), they will opt for sales every time.

At the risk of suggesting the obvious, iTunes need to either give Ping profiles the same functionality as artist pages, or better still, melt artist pages and Ping profiles together in order to avoid any confusion at all. Why have more than one port of call for an artist?

Myspace is about to fall, and if Ping can get it right they will clean up in the ‘artist page’ space, but only if they clarify their vision and recognise what makes artists tick. As it stands, Ping needs artists more than artists need Ping and that’s not a recipe for platform success.

posted by admin at 11:32   _comments (0)

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