Okay, so you’re not Trent Reznor or Drake, but you do make music. Will you be able to get your music on Apple’s streaming service? And what about these artist pages for connecting with fans?
Answer: yes to both, if you like.
Apple today gave a lot of lip service to independent producers and “bedroom” music makers – even going as far as showing the latter in their video. (He had a vintage M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro and a new IK Multimedia iRig Pads, no less.)
It seems there are specific plans, too, posted for the moment on a page under the banner Apple Music for Artists.
There are two aspects to this. One is getting your music on their streaming service (if you actually want that). The other is “claiming” an artist page.
“From the Artist” – yet another social channel to update.
On the surface, the “Apple Music Connect” artist pages are basically what you have right now with Facebook, or Tumblr, or, you know, The Internet: “Share your thoughts and ideas, post demos, remixes, lyrics—really, anything you can imagine—and connect with fans all around the world.” The difference with those services is, you’re evidently making that appear in the Apple Music app, rather than on a Webpage. That’s shades of Apple’s failed Ping service – only now with genuine mobile app integration and what promises to be slicker functionality.
Getting into Apple Music
You can only use Apple Music Connect if you’re on Apple Music. Now, as it happens, it seems if you were ever on iTunes, that’ll happen automatically – I found an artist profile for a lapsed TuneCore subscription.
If not, you can use one of Apple’s approved aggregators, listed via iTunes Connect. That includes providers like The Orchard, CDBaby, finetunes, Believe Digital, and Space Shower. These providers vary by region, but provide extra features like pre-orders, ringtones, translation services, mastered for iTunes, and those music videos.
Right now, there’s a claim form for getting your own profile. You fill out whether you’re a representative of an artist or the artist yourself (including options for saying you’re solo or a band member). Then, you list artist management and label contacts, though it seems if you lack these, you’d fill in your own contact info. (You aren’t allowed to leave those forms blank.)
I tried filling this out myself, as a solo artist and as a member of NERKKIRN on the label Snork Enterprises, so we’ll see how both the self-released and label options go. (I’ll let you know.) Multiple members of a band can all post under their own name.
Then … you wait. There’s a management interface in iTunes Connect that’s similar to what developers see for apps.
Once approved, you can add your own media content, including up to 8-minute videos and 90-minute audio (like podcasts), plus photos. There are two interesting twists. One, you can do this in-app (cool). Two, you can repost Apple Music content, though that’s only available to people who bought a subscription.
What’s missing appears to be any sort of Web interface, which I think is a huge omission – and part of what killed Ping. Everything shows up in the app in a section called “From the Artist.” Also oddly, you can’t post media in Apple Music Connect and have it show up in the iTunes Store. So, if you post a music video for your new LP, it’ll be missing from the store, and will only show up in the Apple Music section. We’ll see how that works, though I’m concerned it may further discourage buying music, and it seems not to be the “integrated ecosystem” Apple described.
Interaction is also an unknown. For instance: “To see your posts in the Connect feed, or to love or comment on your posts, those fans must be following you.”
It does seem it’ll be interesting to play with. I’ll report back. But I expect the big questions from artists will be how they can manage what happens on their page, and whether suddenly iTunes is streaming for free what they had previously sold. Apple has some pretty serious competition in the form of Facebook and the lot. Artists lost interest in Ping simply because it meant an extra investment of time. Apple Music Connect will face that, too – and possibly also the ire of artists who are afraid that streaming will cost them revenue.
On the other hand, if users like this feature, it could take off quickly. I’d bet on success or failure in that narrow window after launch.