What Is Ping?
BY REBECCA DIRKS
In the past couple years, major sites and new
sites alike have hurried to introduce social
elements in an attempt to capitalize on the
popularity of Facebook and Twitter. Though
Apple was a late entry in this category, this
September’s introduction of their new social
network, Ping, wasn’t too surprising. So,
it seems we find ourselves in the familiar
position of evaluating a new social network.
What is it? Who’s on it? Is it worth devoting
your computer time to?
What Is It?
Ping is a social network based around music
that “lives” in i Tunes, either on your desktop or mobile device. Ping users can follow
each other and follow artists. The activity
feeds through the Ping homepage much like
Facebook with the ability to comment, like,
and share others’ messages. There’s no real
method of direct communication between
users (no posting on messages to their profiles or direct messaging) beyond commenting on each others’ posts.
Wait, but what is Ping.fm?
There are only so many names for social networking applications and programs, right, Apple? If you’re a current user of Facebook and Twitter, you
may have heard of a program called Ping.fm. Ping.fm is a service that links all
of your social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Digg, MySpace,
Tumbler, LinkedIn, and many others, allowing you to post to all of them from
one place. Interestingly, you can’t yet post to Ping from Ping.fm.
Conversely, Eric Clapton’s profile seems to
be kept up by his management, with sparse,
impersonal posts—though his most recent
offered a free song download.
For general Ping users, social activity is limited
to your interaction with music products on
i Tunes. For albums and songs, users can “Like,”
post the album to their profile with a comment,
and write a review. Every time you interact with
music, including purchasing albums or songs,
it shows up in your news feed along with a
button for your friends to purchase the music.
Artists have more robust capabilities, including
adding concert dates, posting videos and photos, and posting general status updates.
Whether your friends are is up to you to
find out, by searching individually. Currently,
there’s not an option to import your email
address book, Facebook friends, or Skype
contacts to find friends. Hopefully Ping
will add this feature soon; if you’ve gone
through the trouble of adding your friends
to one social network, there’s really no reason to have to do it again.
what it’s worth. If you’ve got a lot of friends
who are on it, or your favorite artists are on
Ping and active, you might enjoy hanging out
on the service and seeing what they’re up to.
It does have the advantage over Facebook
that you won’t be inundated with your high
school classmates’ Farmville posts and other
irrelevant information, as this service is completely centered around music.
Due to the limited sharing capabilities for
general users, it seems that in the early stages of Ping, it is, at best, a way to connect
with your friends and see what music they’re
into, and, at worst, a vehicle for Apple to sell
The big question for most guitarists is, “How
do I get an artist page?” One of the main
drawbacks of Ping currently is the lack of
direct support for independent artists. Unlike
MySpace or Facebook, where anyone with a
band can make an artist page to promote their
music, at this point Ping’s artist profiles are
given out through record labels or electronic
distributors, like TuneCore, CD Baby, and The
Orchard. While this makes it more difficult if
you want to get an artist page, it does uphold
a certain standard of professionalism for artist
pages. The barriers aren’t so different from
those required to get your music on i Tunes.
However, if you’re looking for a music-based
social network, there are other options out
there that are better at sharing the actual
experience of listening to music, rather than
promoting artists, albums, and songs. Last.
fm, for example, is a social network that
records and shares what you’re listening to
(across all of your music programs and music
players) and recommends other music and
concerts based on your history. You can also
follow your friends’ listening history, connect
with people who have similar tastes, and
share what you’re listening to via Twitter and
other existing social networks automatically.
The main draw of Ping is following your
favorite artists and friends. Currently, the
artists on Ping are hit or miss. Eric Clapton
is on Ping, Jeff Beck isn’t. Joe Satriani and
Steve Vai aren’t, Alice in Chains and Black
Label Society are. Additionally, everyone
uses Ping differently. Black Label Society is
relatively active, posting status updates and
conversing with their fans in the comments.
Is It Worth It?
Ping is certainly worth looking into. If you
already use i Tunes to purchase music, you just
have to activate the account. If not, you have
to create an AppleID, which requires having a
credit card on file with Apple, so take that for
Ping is an Apple product with major label
support that’s built into the most popular
music playing program and music purchasing service in the world. It’s not a stretch
to expect that Ping will be a success. That
said, in Ping’s early stages, it’s not yet that
exciting or groundbreaking an experience.
If you’re looking for a way to socially experience music and already use i Tunes, give it a
shot. In my opinion, it’s just not the best one