Apple launched a new version of iTunes a few months ago. The most important new feature in iTunes 10 is Ping, a social network for music. Ping allows the 160 million iTunes users to follow artist and friends, thus making iTunes “social”.
Following an artist or a band on Ping is similar to liking them on Facebook or following them on Twitter. Following your friends on Ping allows you to find out what they’re listening to and to get music recommendations from them. This takes place in other social networks as well. Om Malik praises Ping for moving from what he calls a “click-and-go-somewhere-to-download” model of recommendations to the “future of social commerce” where social networking is integrated with commerce.
My problem with iTunes Ping is that I don’t think finding music to buy is the problem. I’m not looking for new music to buy – I’m looking for new music to listen to. There are a lot of services around that combine recommendations with actually listening to music: Spotify Social allows you to see what your Spotify-using Facebook friends are listening, whereas music blog aggregators such as The Hype Machine or Shuffler provide recommendations from strangers. Sure, I might eventually buy the music (if it’s not on Spotify or if I absolutely must have it on my iPod) but it will take more than a 30-second sample and a recommendation.
How do you find new music?