Recently, Apple announced the new version of iTunes – iTunes 10. It’s got a lot of upgrades from previous versions – a tweaked, cleaner UI, some nice small changes to layouts and organization – all of these things are good. Yes, even the new icon, which has gotten bashed a bit for being generic and dippy. Hey – I like blue gradients, I don’t have a right to bash the logo.
However, one of the new features iTunes incorporates is what feels like an ad hoc social network, called Ping. Ping allows you to follow people, or musicians – get updates on new albums, things the people you’ve connected with like. I’m all for that, but I have to wonder; is it sustainable?
Ping is a flash in the pan.
I’m not the only one criticizing this. Ping has already been bashed as an inside sales tactic. That’s not my concern (everything is a sales tactic). I’m not even concerned about the system being centralized in iTunes, or being limited in features to half-Twitter, half-Facebook (or maybe all Google Buzz) style features. I don’t even care that it won’t let me blog more effectively.
My concern is breaking the rockstar illusion. Immediately on getting Ping set up, I started following some musicians. U2, for example, who have turned out to be quite vocal, in a mostly positive way. However, after actively checking in on Ping for a few days, I realized something. I don’t really care about musicians.
Don’t get me wrong – I love music.
I just can’t connect with musicians. I sing – I was part of a community chorale for years, and I loved it. I work with musicians daily. However, like economists or farmers, my day to day life has very little to do with the process of promoting music as an art. And that’s really what Ping is for; it’s a social network aimed at promoting music. The kind I like, the kinds my friends like. Forget that I might prefer Satriani to Motorhead, or Grateful Dead to K$sha – taste is important, but one thing’s for sure – and I think this is being overlooked.
I’m probably not the only person in the world who prefers to follow music, not musicians.
Anyone – even my friends – foisting their favorite band in my direction is likely to get indifference before interest.
But then, I wasn’t into MySpace either. And that’s who Ping really goes after – not bloggers or Twitter enthusiasts. So maybe I’m just the wrong audience.
And audience is important for music to be appreciated. Am I right?