In Apple’s Keynote this morning, they launched a much needed upgrade to iTunes that includes social integration.
Much like current sites Rdio and Last.fm, iTunes is finally getting a social overhaul that will transform iTunes into a music discovery social network called Ping. You can now “follow” your friends to see what they are listening to and share recommendations - all without leaving iTunes.
Initial reports indicate that Ping only displays data for albums purchased, NOT listening data. I have yet to confirm this first hand, but if true, this is a big disappointment from Apple’s latest social endeavor. If Ping only displays what albums your friends purchase off the iTunes store, they are missing out on a huge amount of data and interaction with listening data. Without listening data in Ping, last.fm will still thrive.
What does Ping mean for artists?
Much like Facebook’s News Feed, when you go into iTunes Ping, you will see an activity stream that includes recent activity from the friends that you follow. In addition, artists will now be able to post updates that are delivered to this news feed for people that follow them. This is huge.
In the keynote, they showed an example of Jack Johnson posting some recent pictures from his upcoming music video, and Lady Gaga sharing a video blog. What does this mean? You now have another outlet to push content through. Time will tell if Ping will be a major player in the social game, but for now, you’re better safe than sorry by being on it. iTunes has a lot of customers.
I am currently getting access to accounts for our clients, but am unable to disclose how to get access for your artist in order to post. I will disclose when I am allowed!
iTunes 10 vs. Cloud-Based Music Services (Rdio, Spotify, MOG, etc):
I was really hoping iTunes was going to go “to the cloud” on this upgrade. These social integrations are great, but I won’t be using them much because I’m sticking with Rdio’s subscription service. I much rather pay $10/month and get unlimited streaming to an enormous catalog of music on my computer and mobile than start buying albums for $10 a piece on iTunes again.
Until iTunes goes to the cloud and starts offering a subscription streaming service (or until Google beats them to the punch), my loyalty still lies with Rdio.