MySpace, as one of the major social networks five years ago - not only built a critical mass - it attracted tens of thousands of users who were interested in music, whether they were promoting a garage band or selling online albums. When their popularity waned under the shadow of Facebook, several niche music-related social networks seized the opportunity to fill the void. With Steve Job's Ping entering the market this week, the musical social networking space could be in for a major re-mix.
While Ping will never compete with Facebook or Twitter, it's 150 million iTune subscribers could do some major damage to existing sites such as Blip.fm, Spotify and Last.fm. The question is, is 'music' enough of a common denominator to build a social network infrastructure?
Blip.fm has been around for some time now - and two years ago its integration with Twitter distinguished it from many of its competitors. A good number of my followers (including myself) would post links to our favorite tunes in tweets as often as two to three times a day. Today, with my follower base growing significantly, I hardly see anyone referencing Blip.fm in any of their current tweets. The interest factor has seemed to have diminished.
That being said, according to Tim Glanfield at Beehivecity, he indicates that "panic will be running through the boardroom at Last.fm." Differing slightly from Blip.fm where you can choose your favorite tunes, Last.fm serves as a 'virtual radio station' that is tailored to their users tastes - and then makes informed recommendations to one's followers. However, Glanfield points out, "with Ping's ability to do the same, and everyone already using iTunes to sync their iPods and iPhones, are people gong to remain loyal to one of the trailblazers of this technique?"
Apple's new social network has an inherent advantage over the competition. It already has a built-in audience and doesn't have to build its mousetrap from scratch. Whether they attract hundreds or millions of followers will not be of concern to the Apple enterprise - because no matter how many join the Ping network, with each new sign-up, Apple stands to increase its revenue potential exponentially.
In a NY Times report, “Apple wants to create even tighter links with iTunes users and keep them a click away from buying a song,” said Mike McGuire, a vice president with Gartner. “Ping will give people more reasons to spend frequently and rapidly.”
Other services like Spotify which sports a slightly different business model in delivering ad supported and subscription based music will also feel Ping's ensuing competition. Glanfield says, "in an already competitive market place, the ability to listen to longer samples on iTunes, cheaper tracks and the added lure of ‘intuitive’ recommendations will surely encroach on the company’s market position."
So if music is the number-one common denominator that connects you to like-minded spirits, let us know if you think Ping is the thing for you, or if its just going to be the catalyst to assist you in building your musical library?