This article was written by freelance guitarist and producer Cameron Mizell and originally appeared on MusicianWages.com. Thanks for their kind permission to re-post it here.
Apple’s recent rollout of iTunes 10 included a new feature called Ping, dubbed a “social network for music” by the creators. Ping’s release was followed by a good deal of criticism from the tech and music blogs, and for the most part, I agreed with them. Coming from a company that’s notorious for unveiling gadgets and software that impress from the moment of Steve Jobs’ keynote, this feature kind of felt like it wasn’t ready for public use. But despite it’s downfalls, and perhaps because of it’s small splash in the online music and social networking community, there are several reasons why every musician should be using iTunes Ping.
There are two types of profiles on Ping:
As of the writing of this article, there are very few differences between the two pages. The main difference is that the artist profile has a link to the artist’s page on iTunes. Also, artist pages aren’t necessarily managed by the artists themselves, because I know for a fact Bob Marley is not very good at using the internet.
If you’re an independent musician that has music on iTunes (such as myself), it is possible to get an artist profile. Contact your digital distributor, ask them what you need to do, and then be patient. It’s a first come, first served process, but while you’re waiting in line, there’s no reason not start using Ping anyway.
What’s to lose?
Being an early adopter of new ideas or technology can reap it’s benefits. Early adopter’s can influence the way a new technology or social network is used. It’s also much easier to build the foundation for your network with other early adopters before everyone else is doing it. In a smaller crowd, your actions will be noticed.
Setting up a user profile is simple and takes only a couple minutes. Once your profile is set up and you’re logged into your iTunes account, any actions you make in the store will show up on your profile page and in the activity feed of anybody that follows you. Once you’ve set up a Ping profile you’ll also notice a little “Ping” button next to whatever track is selected in your iTunes library:
If you’re like me and listen to music in iTunes on a regular basis, you can very easily keep your profile active by taking one action each day that will show up on your profile. In other words, using Ping requires very little time or effort, so there is really nothing to lose.
Actually, you will lose one thing: Anonymity.
Once you’ve created a Ping profile, your actual name will appear on any review you’ve ever written on iTunes. So all those third person reviews you wrote for your own albums might need to be deleted.
Anonymity relieves us of accountability, and I believe it’s good thing, especially as a musician, to let everyone know who is writing the reviews. As you’ll learn, this actually makes it easier to find like minded people to connect with on Ping.
Using Ping to Connect with Others
My brain is hardwired to approach everything online with the question, “How can I use this to get more people to hear my music?”
Follow people with similar tastes as you. Search the iTunes store for your favorite albums. Leave a review or at least rate the album yourself, and then look for reviews by people whose full names are written as a blue link, like mine in the review pictured above. You can click through to that person’s profile and see what else they like and read their other reviews. If Ping users have written reviews for your album, you should definitely follow them!
Once you’re following a decent number of people, you’ll see an activity stream similar to Facebook or Twitter. This makes it easy to learn about more music (the whole intention behind Ping, I suppose), and also find more people with similar tastes in music.
People who like the same music as you are more likely to like your music. There’s really no direct action you need to take to tell people about your music. Ideally, some of them will go to your profile and learn that you make music of your own.
Using Ping to Promote Your Music
Your Ping profile should both tell people what kind of music you like, but also that you make music. There’s room to write a bio, and it’s important to not make this a hard sell marketing pitch about your latest album. Unfortunately, you can’t create any links in your bio. To link to your music, simply put links to your albums in the “Music I Like” section–something you select when setting up your profile.
Avoid putting your music in your activity stream. Everybody is going to start doing that, and it’s going to look tacky and turn off people from wanting to follow you. Most of your posts should be about the music you like. For every 20 posts about other people’s music, perhaps post a link to one of your tracks and say something interesting about it. This is simply a good practice for any sort of social networking tool.
One way of working a link to your music into your activity stream is by “liking” somebody else’s review of your album. There’s nothing wrong with highlighting what somebody else thinks of your music!
Staying Ahead of the Curve
I’m sure that as newer versions of iTunes roll out, improvements will be made to Ping. While the social networking aspect of it is somewhat limited, it does exist in the most popular digital music store (at least in US market share). As I discovered years ago by making iMixes, the best place to promote your music is within the store itself.
I can’t guarantee results from using Ping. It’s still too new, and I don’t have enough experience with it. To be honest, there’s really not that much TO experience. But be it Ping or any other resource that has potential to get new people to hear my music, I believe it’s well worth the small investment of time and effort to stay ahead of the curve.
Visit my artist profile on iTunes Ping.