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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

6 Reasons Why iTunes Ping Is So Important

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Steve Jobs and Apple has done it again yesterday with the introduction of iTunes 10, which now contains the music social network Ping.

What is Ping? Jobs explained it this way, "It's like Facebook and Twitter meets iTunes." Although Apple is promoting Ping as a music discovery platform where artists and fans can interact, it's a lot more strategic than that. Until now Apple has mastered technology and content, but Ping gives them the one piece that they never had before - people, the most important of them all.

But Ping will be very significant for artists and bands too.  Here's how:
  • 1) There are already 160 million iTunes users. That doesn't mean that they'll all use Ping, but it provide a huge base of people already on the network.
  • 2) iTunes has a direct connection to your content that other social networks don't have. This should make an impulse buy easier.
  • 3) Ping is about all music, unlike other social networks (sorry MySpace, you don't count anymore). At least in the beginning, there won't be any other distractions.
  • 4) iTunes users consume content. They're used to buying, and they already have credit cards on file.
  • 5) Ping is about music discovery. Discovery is still the Holy Grail of the music industry. Ping provides discovery on your own, discovery through friends, and discovery from other fans, and anything to help people find your music is a good thing.
  • 6) Ping has a direct connection to buying tickets to gigs. With their database of over 17,000 shows and concerts (provided by LiveNation, by the way), it'll make it easier for a fan to purchase a ticket without ever leaving the network.
There's also a lot to be said for Apple's traditional ease-of-use, that could play a part in the development of Ping into something larger than intended.

Look for an announcement soon of how you can claim your artist page on Ping (check Lady Gaga's artist page out as an example). Then be sure to do it right away. Although it may be too early to tell, there doesn't seem to be a downside, unless you like being undiscovered, of course.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Eh. I venture that less than 5% of iTunes users are regular visitors to the iTunes store. I have 70,000 songs in my library, 17,000 of which are rated, but since I didn't buy them through the store (I still rip CDs) and since I didn't rate them at the store, Ping is useless to me. It thinks I'm a newb.

Cameron Mizell said...

I think Ping has potential to help dramatically, but at launch it's lacking. I've been releasing my music independently for a while now and have had music for sale on iTunes since early 2005. My sales grew year over year until I was making a significant amount of money from iTunes alone, and then iTunes 9 came out, limited the number of "listeners also bought" recommendations that were displayed on album and artist pages, and sales dropped pretty dramatically (despite releasing new material over the last year, my monthly earnings are about 20% what they were in fall of 2008).

Granted, there are many other factors that could be coming into play here, but I don't think there are fewer people shopping for music on iTunes now than there were in 2008. Sure, most people that use iTunes probably don't use the store, but I think they've always existed.

If Ping can help bring back some of those deeper recommendations lists, and use data from both customers' buying habits and users' libraries and listening habits (ala Last.fm), then I believe it could really help independent musicians such as myself.

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