Apple now has its own social network for music lovers. It's called Ping. It's built into the latest version of iTunes. I signed up last night and it seemed like I came to the party alone.
There are so many reasons why Ping failed me. First off, I could choose to let Ping figure out my favorite music or I could pick it myself. I actually let it choose because Apple's algorithms are always so cool and it said my favorites would be based on "music I like, rate, review, or purchase." That seemed great to me. I'm one of those geeks who star-rates the songs on my iPod.
So when it said I liked Fleetwood Mac, Focus, Brent Dennen, The Eels and Lady Gaga, I knew something was just not right. These were all artists I'd purchased from the iTunes store for various show reasons, but not music I cared much about. I saw that someone on Twitter said they bought a Justin Beiber song for their 12 year-old sister and now it's showing up on the buyer's favorites list.
You can manually make your list of favorites, but try picking The Beatles or AC/DC. In other words, it isn't what's in your library that matters, it's what can be bought on iTunes. Even Apple knows that only a small percentage of what's in someone's iTunes was actually bought on iTunes. They need to fix this.
Later, I went looking for artists to follow and only Jack Johnson, U2, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry were there. That wasn't the party I was looking for.
I did find Rick Rubin, so now I have one friend or Pinger or whatever.
I'd heard you could find your Facebook friends with Ping and thought that would turn up a huge well of smart music fans to follow. But last night Facebook pulled the plug on Apple's interface between Ping and Facebook. Facebook says that Ping could cause "site instability" and "infrastructure" problems. Could Ping really take down Facebook? These could just be kinks to work out and Facebook states that they're working with Apple to resolve the issue, so we'll see.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg signed up, so I guess he's curious. I'm curious, too. I'm curious to see what people are listening to, to see what bands are playing and to read comments about concerts and so on.
Sure there's Last FM and others that do similar things, but there are 160 million worldwide iTunes users and it would be amazing to see on a daily basis what people in Turkey or India or Australia are listening to and talking about.
Apple is jump starting a community with Ping and like all software it needs some real world testing. But it's the people who make the community.
So if you're curious, let's "Ping" for a few months and see what we think.
I signed up as Bob Boilen, how about you?