What’s a social network for music discovery if there aren’t any artists? As covered previously, Apple’s Ping on launch was a pretty big flop. With no custom artist pages, artists felt left out of the party – and would-be users found themselves scratching their heads as iTunes mindlessly recommended U2 and Lady Gaga to everyone.
At the very least, as expected, we should start to see artists appear on Ping – and now there’s a way for you to be one of those artists, if you desire.
Ping’s reliance on the iTunes client and exclusively music purchased from the iTunes store remains worrisome, but if you’re an artist whose music is on iTunes and want to get in front of some extra eyeballs, we’ve got good news. TuneCore is a service designed to help artists distribute their music by managing the complexities of the various digital storefronts out there. That makes them a natural choice for helping get artists onto Ping – even if your music is in other places, too (like eMusic, Amazon, and Amie Street).
TuneCore was apparently on the phone with Apple the day Ping launched. And they now have Artist Ping accounts live. Here’s the full story, with some additional thoughts from TuneCore for CDM.
TuneCore posted an update at the beginning of this week announcing that they had set up Ping artist pages for their TuneCore artists:
Artist Ping Accounts [TuneCore blog]
First an artist, or their representative, is verified as the authorized person to control the Artist Ping account (i.e. no, you cannot pretend to be Iggy Pop). This is done via TuneCore coordinating with TuneCore Artists and then relaying information to Apple.
Once this info is received by Apple, Apple emails out a unique url link specific to the artist, this link is then clicked on, when its clicked on the iTunes software opens in your browser and says “Ping Aritst Account” – it will ask you to log in with your iTunes user name/password or you can create a new iTunes account just for your Ping Artist account.
Whatever account you use to log in will be part of your Ping Artist Account. One of the things the Ping Artist and People account will do is display what you bought via that account on your Ping page.
So, if you are Motorhead and you buy the Strawberry shortcake “Rockaberry Roll” album (and yes, that is the name of a real album, I just looked it up) – this will appear on your Ping Artist Page.
Once in your Ping account you will be able to upload assets, etc. There may be a slight delay before they appear as Apple will check to assure the movies/images are not pornographic.
So, the bad news here to me is that there’s not really a whole lot of interaction on the page – for now, at least, a lot of this is just you buying music from iTunes. But if you’re willing to put in the time, and you have a lot of fans or listeners on iTunes, at least you now have a pretty easy avenue to get there. (Many readers’ response to Ping was, in part, social network fatigue, so I think it’s really in Apple’s court to provide more compelling reasons for artists to bother. Then again, you know your iTunes sales, and that may be the deciding factor.)
For their part, TuneCore defends the added work for the verification process:
There are literally millions of bands on iTunes. Apple has to come up with a way to authenticate that the entity that lays claim to the Radiohead etc Ping Artist page is actually authorized to do so.
To control this, there has to be a manual process (at least at inception) where Apple literally reaches out to an artist via the entity that provided iTunes the music so they can assure the control for that Artist’s Ping page is actually the person/entity that has the right to do so.
This would be consistent with the high quality experience that Apple provides. It’s an Apple process that many others do not do.
That makes some sense – see also the verified accounts on Twitter. On the other hand, to me the real challenge on Ping isn’t only opening up artist accounts, but providing a reason for artists to go there, and that remains to be seen.
Jeff Prince from TuneCore provided some additional information on how this works, including some best-guess attempts outside TuneCore.
CDM: Can you tell me – obviously there are advantages to going through TuneCore, but how would an artist work directly with Apple if they don’t work with TuneCore?
Jeff: Whatever entity the artist used to get their music into iTunes would be the default go to – there are exceptions (i.e. a huge multi-national act signed to a major may have its own pre-existing relationship with Apple where the management company has previously been verified).
As for TuneCore’s part, can any TuneCore artist go through your process — assuming their music is on iTunes?
Any indication yet whether this will start to correct the current follower suggestions from Apple (i.e., the fact that everyone is supposed to be a Lady Gaga fan)? 😉
My guess is that the algorithm’s need information/data to get more accurate. As more people sign up and use Ping, there is more data which allows the suggestions to get more accurate/interesting. But to me the real value is in the curated suggestions by People/Artists, not so much the automated recommendations.
Thanks, Chris. Well, so, folks, if you do hop on there and like what you see, feel free to share your experiences and Ping artist pages. And if you’re still unimpressed, well, of course, we’ll continue to look at other options for social music online, of which Ping is just one.