Filed under: Feature, TECHNOLOGY | Tags: Alexandra Petsavas, Apple, Facebook, iTunes, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Last.fm, Mark Zuckerberg, Micki Krimmel, Myspace, Pandora, Ping, Steve Jobs, Telephone, The Acorn, Twitter
Is Ping the MySpace Music Slayer?
Since Apple’s Wednesday announcement of the social network for music, Ping, the service has been called a MySpace killer. At the core of the Apple fan boy or girl, is an ethos that Apple can and will continuously do it better than the next guy. This ethos has been built on the back of the company’s ability to blow away the smartphone marketplace with one swift punch to the balls called the iPhone. As I sit with my iPhone parked next to me and my MacBook Pro at my fingertips, I certainly classify as an Apple fan girl. In Ping’s case, the assumption that Apple always draws shotgun would be a mistake. In its current configuration, Ping is not and will not be a MySpace killer. Until some major problems are fixed, it will continue to live in the shadow cast by powerhouses like Pandora and MySpace.
If the principle challenge with the MySpace platform is hyper-personalization turning the site into the bedroom of an over-eager teenage girl, the problem with Ping is the insistence on an overly simple user interface. I may not need the many bells and whistles thrown at me on MySpace daily but I do need more features than Ping is offering.
Here are a few reasons why Ping won’t crush my MySpace usage anytime soon:
1) What Do I Care About Most?
Photo Credit: Micki Krimmel
It’s the Music Stupid.
Ping seems to think the answer to this question is the sharing of music. In actuality, I care most about the music itself. I sit writing this while listening to Arcade Fire’s new album on MySpace. Currently, this band doesn’t even exist on Ping. While I sit listening to The Suburbs in full, the band gets a “No Results” on Ping. Yes, yes. I know the service is still too new to accommodate the likes of indie rock but perhaps more should have been done to draw bands into the service before it was launched to the public. Mashable posted an interesting article on the challenges bands face in entering the Ping world vs. the ease at which bands enter their MySpace communities and post at will. The Ping user needs more of their favorite bands and the bands need an easier way to access the new platform.
Above the selection of bands, what I really want on a music page is…in short, music. I want to listen to full-length songs like I can on MySpace music. I can’t even find any music to listen to on Lady GaGa’s Ping page until I click over to the iTunes store. As we all know in the online world, and for those who don’t know, shortening the click-thru stream is necessary for lazy audiences everywhere to engage with your platform. Don’t make it more difficult for me to get to what I really want: the music. And once I’m finally there, I get a 30 second nugget rather than what I really want: the full song. Let’s see a side-by-side Ping to MySpace comparison:
Sir Steve Jobs attracted me to the platform with his promise that 160MM global iTunes users would be there waiting for me. I fire up the upgrade, click on the attractive Ping logo with the chat bubbles and find Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, and Rick Rubin staring back at me. Now, I love the GaGa as much as the next girl, but what about my actual friends? Where are they?
Apple promised a Facebook Connect feature allowing me to easily search for my Facebook friends. Not so much… If you haven’t seen the most recent press, Apple played a bit aggressively with Facebook and was denied access to the API. On Kara Swisher’s blog, All Things D, she spoke to Steve Jobs moments after the Apple announcements and was told by Jobs that Facebook wanted “onerous terms that we could not agree to.” In essence, when Facebook’s API is called upon with over 100 million requests a day, Facebook requires a monetary agreement to handle the overload on their systems. Apple and Facebook could not come to an agreement on this and hence no Facebook for Ping.
Until this is resolved, I can only find my friends by entering in their email address one by one until I find someone. Suffice to say, this is the real “onerous” process and simply unmanageable by anyone who has a job. Yesterday, my friend from Berlin tracked me down so I officially have one real Ping friend. This is only one hiccup with the service but the most sizeable one. Until this one issue is resolved, Ping will have problems truly being a “social network for music” without connecting its 160MM worldwide users together.
3) What type of Music Defines You?
On the initial fire of the Ping community, you’re asked to pick a collection of music which will be used on your profile to define you to your friends. I don’t take this process lightly at all. Being someone who previously worked in the music industry, I take my collection and particular music taste very seriously. The user has the choice between a manual selection of music or an automatically pre-selected one chosen by an Apple algorithm. Being that this was an Apple interface, my expectation was that Apple would choose my taste better than I could possibly define my own. Yup, not the case.
Instead of looking at my music library, which would be the obvious choice, Ping seems to favor my purchased iTunes items, surfacing selections which may not be something I’d like to define my musical taste by. Selfish selection by Apple really. Imagine you buy Justin Bieber for your 12-year-old niece and all of a sudden it surfaces as your favorite music. Bieber fail. Manual entry is certainly a requirement.
**Please note: This would never happen on this MacBook of course. I wouldn’t allow this sort of download on my machine. Just sayin…
4) Sharing Begins & Ends in iTunes
Hey Apple, just want to let you know about these fantastic social networks known as Facebook and Twitter. You may have heard about them? Only about 500 MM users use the first one. Just thought I’d let you know, as you seem to care not for the likes of those little guys. You may have 160 MM worldwide users but before you get on that soapbox, Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook dominion holds down 500 MM globally. When I go to “like” something in Ping, I share that like with the Ping community alone. There are currently no sharing features with Facebook, Twitter or MySpace and with that list being the three primary social networks, seems Ping is lacking a little in the “social” department. Apple seems to be acting like a possessive boyfriend with this product rather than truly building a social experience for music.
5) News Feed Overload
After seeing a recommendation from Alexandra Petsavas, my favorite music supervisor who brilliantly filled an entire episode of The O.C. with Beck B sides, I decided to download a few tracks from the Canadian band, The Acorn. Now, my entire feed is filled with my love for The Acorn even though I downloaded a few tracks off of one album. I wish there could be more control in terms of what is surfaced and what isn’t. I don’t need every song purchase listed in my feed especially around the holidays when I decide that The Time Life Christmas CD’s are a must-have.
So is Ping the MySpace Killer? If you enjoy sitting in enclosed spaces talking to yourself about your favorite music, then yes, Ping wins.
Alright, I’m off. MySpace just threw me an “Are You Still Listening?” curve ball and I need to change this song.
“We’re sorry, the number you have reached is not in service at this time. Please check the number or try your call again.” Telephone Lady GaGa
Filed under: ONLINE SERVICES/INTERACTIVE MEDIA | Tags: Apple, Google, ITunes Store, Lala, Myspace, Pandora, Searching, Wall Street Journal
Apple is trying to round up programming support to offer a $30-a-month subscription-television service. The Wall Street Journal says Apple’s “over-the-top” service in theory could rival cable television, given it can offer programmers a base of 100 million customers through iTunes. The Wall Street Journal/Digits blog (11/2)
Last week Google launched the Music Onebox — a special new search result that lets users stream songs in their entirety for free. The feature is being powered through partnerships with MySpace and Lala who are providing the song streams, with contributions from a host of other partners like Pandora and imeem. Millions of people will doubtless stumble across the new feature on their own as they run searches for their favorite bands, but Google also has a few tricks up its sleeve to get the word out. We’re hearing that a number of well known artists will soon be actively promoting the service, offering exclusive content to fans who Google them.
Tres smart marketing promotion. Tres Tres smart, The word of mouth on this should be intense. Nice move Google. Very nice. (Techcrunch11/3)
Filed under: Feature | Tags: Arts, Citizen Cope, Disc jockey, Herbie Hancock, iTunes, Jelli, MP3, Music, Musical ensemble, Myspace, Pandora, San Francisco, Soul Coughing, Soundgarden
JELLI: ALL REQUEST RADIO
Welcome to Jelli, user-controlled radio. This past week, I had the chance to catch up with Mike Dougherty, CEO of Jelli, at Digital Hollywood to ask him some questions about the site. Incidentally, Mike is not the lead singer of the band Soul Coughing as I had excitedly thought before meeting him. Apparently, I am not the only person to make this mistake.
Here’s the jist. Log on, start listening, and start voting music up or down based on what you want to listen to you. Others will do the same. The combinations of all of that voting will determine what comes next in the playlist. If you really want to hear that Herbie Hancock track, “rocket” it to the top of the list. If you really can’t stand that Citizen Cope song, “bomb” it out of the playlist. I come from a traditional radio background, and as a DJ for 5 years, I was quite used to the programmed playlist that neither I nor the listener had any control over. The playlist was dictated by a number of rotations coordinated in advance by the radio Program Director, band manager, and artist. In essence, if you requested something, there was pretty much no chance in hell that it was getting on air. This web site flips the switch on the whole radio industry.
Pandora, MySpace Music, iTunes, and pretty much any other online music service you can think of are very one-to-one types of experiences. You pick the music and based on what you are selecting, in certain cases, the service recommends additional music it thinks you will like.
Jelli brings the social aspects of traditional radio back to the forefront allowing users to each play DJ selecting and voting on music as the playlist runs its course. In addition, every Sunday on Live 105 in San Francisco from 10PM – Midnight, what plays on Jelli plays on traditional radio. It should come as no surprise that this is the most highly trafficked time for Jelli.
I would much rather listen to music that I and a few of my friends are selecting rather than listening with the main group. I don’t really need to hear that Soundgarden song once an hour and I know my friends would never subject me to that. Also, giving new users more power seems to be a must. On my first try to the service, a track that I had rocketed to the top was quickly bombed by another user and removed from the playlist. Sad face. Dougherty claims that this may be on the horizon.
What Comes Next
Jelli will be nationally syndicated allowing any radio station to follow the Live 105 lead and empower listeners on their airwaves. In addition, 5 stations in Australia will also begin carrying Jelli as of November. Live DJs? Also on the way. Also, users will eventually be enticed with incentives for their participation in the site.
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- Jelli’s crowd-sourced radio opens up to the U.S., Australia (news.cnet.com)
Filed under: WIRELESS | Tags: CBS, Chumby, Comedy Central, Internet radio, MTV, Music, Pandora, Tim Westergren
Pandora‘s indispensable iPhone app has helped the service double its growth rate from 20,000 new users/day to almost 40,000/day according to an interview with Pandora founder Tim Westergren on DWM. Pandora has about 1.5 million users on the platform to date. (Cynopsis 10/8)
Qualcomm’s mobile FLO TV service, available to AT&T and Verizon subscribers, is capitalizing on the two of the big fall TV events this year – the Presidential Debates and the primetime network premiers. Tuesday’s debate was delivered live on six FLO channels: NBC, CBS, Fox, MSNBC and CNBC, not to mention CNN for AT&T subscribers. Nickelodeon will also offer an election-themed Q&A for kids on the service on Oct. 12. FLO TV is also featuring its most comprehensive line up of prime time shows yet this month from NBC, CBS, Fox, MTV, Comedy Central. (Cynopsis 10/8)