Is Music Too Intimate For Ping To Succeed?

At Apple’s annual fall music event, CEO Steve Jobs revealed a new social network called Ping. For those of you playing along at home, Ping is a network that sits inside iTunes that allows you to connect with artists and friends to discover music and (let’s face it here) sell more music. What’s not to love?

Well, let’s take another look at “Rich’s requirements for joining a social network.” Location services aside, the last major social network I joined was Twitter, sometime last year. So I broke out my handy, Is this Social Network Worth My Time? checklist.

Follow along, as I read aloud:

  • Does the social network appeal to my interests? Check. Who doesn’t love music and ways to discover more music that they like?
  • Can I access my network where and when I need it? Hmm. … Computer: Check. iPhone: Check. iPad: Check. Okay, you got me there, Apple.
  • Are my friends on the social network and are they easy to connect with? Apple: Fail. When the network was shown off at the “Steve-note,” screenshots indicated there would be Facebook integration. Due to alleged last-minute negotiation failures, the feature was ultimately pulled. Of course, with this gone, there goes a large hope at success. After all, Facebook is the center of my social hub; Does Apple really expect me to remember the email addresses of my friends?
  • Is the social network novel or unique? Well, it does feel a little last.fm-ish, but I never really got into much there, to one of my co-worker’s dismay.
  • Is there a legitimate community (or at least potential for one) here? This one got me thinking …

The friend-finding issue aside, music to me — and, I believe, to many others — is a very intimate and personal experience. Let’s say I have a hundred connections on the new Ping network. If it were anything like my other networks, there would be a mix of friends, family members, co-workers and the occasional acquaintance. Maybe I want them to know how much I love the new Weezer album, but do I really want them knowing my secret go-to music? Or, do I even care that my friend, Steve, downloaded another Lady Gaga album? Even if I did, the communication seems very one-way.

At Communispace, I’ve had the privilege of facilitating communities that drill down on some very deep and emotional topics with our community members, but a team of facilitators was ready to develop the conversation and get people to open up. Now, I’m not suggesting Apple needs to get a team of moderators to foster community, but without a desire of the Ping community to move the conversation to a deeper level, it is destined to just become as enthralling as the review section on Amazon.com, a mix of lovers and haters without any real connection.

So what do you think: Is Ping poised to fail — or is it the next phase of how we interact with our music?