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If you're like me, there are times when you're really craving some new music to listen to. But just randomly browsing through the iTunes Store doesn't yield anything that grabs your interest or attention. Now it seemed that with the iTunes Genius feature you can get iTunes to recommend music for you based on what's already in your library but that's still a computer program making suggestions to you. Sometimes you want a little more human input. So with the release of iTunes 10, Apple launched a new social networking service called Ping. Ping is a social networking system that lives entirely in iTunes and is dedicated to helping you share music interest with friends.
Many major label and high profile bands and artists also have Ping artist accounts so you can follow them through iTunes to see what they're listening to, where they will be appearing and other information about them. So to turn on Ping, click Ping under the STORE heading in your source pane then click the Turn On Ping button, you will be asked to sign into your iTunes account. You will have to agree to the terms of service and here is where you can set up your profile. So enter your first name and last name. Select your gender. If you have a photo of yourself, you can add it. I am going to skip that step for now.
You can enter where you live, type a brief description about yourself, and you can pick up the three genres that you like. So I have got Alternative selected, Pop and I will pick Rock. Then continue. So in your profile, you can list up to 10 different songs or albums that you like for people to see. You can have iTunes automatically display all the music I like and this is based on the music that you rate, review, or purchase in your main iTunes library here. So you can see that iTunes has decided that I like The jellybricks, Weezer and Coldplay, but you can also manually pick the music you want to display or don't display music you like on your profile.
If you do want to manually pick the music to display, you can click in the Search for music field to add more covers or if you don't like one of the choices that iTunes made for you up here, you can delete it. So I will search for a couple of bands here like Who and there is Baba O'Riley by the Who, which I like. I will add that. And you can see that adds the cover right away. Then I search for Ben Folds, so another one and out of these songs, I like The Luckiest, I will add that. Now, when you are searching for music you are actually are searching the iTunes Store, so even if I type something in like The Beatles, I am not going to find any Beatles albums because The Beatles aren't currently carried in the iTunes Store.
So if I go through here, I am not really going to find anything. We have stuff like Press Conference In America by the Beatles but I'm not going to find any of their actual albums or music. So let's add one more. Search for Joni Mitchell and let's go with this album, Court and Spark. And you can just take your time and go through here and add up to 10 different album covers of your like. I am just going to leave those five and click Continue. Next, you have to set your Privacy Settings. The major part of Ping is to follow your friends and to allow other people to follow you.
When you follow someone, you will be able to check out their profile, see what music they have purchased, see what music they like, and that really helps you to find new music yourself. Now you can either allow people to follow you or don't allow other people to follow you. If you don't allow people to follow you, you'll still be able to follow others but they won't be able to see any of your musical preferences or anything like that. Now if you do want to allow people to follow you, you can be a little selective about it by choosing Require my approval to follow me. If you don't check that anyone at anytime can follow your profile and view it. With Require my approval to follow me, you will receive emails anytime somebody wants to follow you and then you can either approve them or deny them.
So it really depends on how much control you want to exert over who follows you. I will click Done and now I see this Welcome to Ping screen. Now I can immediately start following other artists or people. Notice that I already had this recommendation of artists I might want to follow. Maybe I do want to follow Weezer. Click on that and just like that Weezer's activity start showing up down here. So this is everything Weezer has posted to their profile. If I start following Coldplay, I start seeing their updates interspersed in my News Feed here.
You can also invite your friends to join Ping. Now let's invite your friends by email allows you to open an e-mail message with a link that will send them through iTunes so they can join Ping for themselves. But if you already know they are on Ping, you can search for people or artists by typing in a name. Maybe I will do a search for myself and I will show you what my real Ping account looks like. So I actually three different Garrick Chows here, here is me, the real me so I will start following. Now my real account is set up so that I have to approve anybody who wants to follow me, so what I'm doing here now is now sending a request. So anytime you have to send a request that means that particular person has to approve your request, so you just have to wait until they get around to that before you start seeing their feed.
But I have another computer here beside me, which I will use to approve my request, so you can see what it looks like. All right, so I have approved my requests, so let's go to the Ping menu up here and let's check out Recent Activity. This takes me back to the page that we first saw when we signed up for the Ping account. If I click People, I will see the people that I follow. You can see people I follow, three. So I follow Garrick Chow, Coldplay and Weezer. If I want to check out any of these people's profiles, I can click on the name and here's what my profile looks like. You can see the music that I like up here in the right-hand corner, you can see the other people I follow if you look on my feed, and by looking at the people I follow on my feed you might be able to find other people you might want to become Ping friends with.
So as you can see as your Ping network grows, you will be able to see what music your friends enjoy, what they've bought, and who they themselves follow. It's a nice organic way to learn about new music and artists and I really like that human interaction factor of discovering new music that you just can't get with the iTunes Genius recommendations. But of course in order for social networks to survive, people have to participate. Ping is still very much in its infancy so it will be interesting to see how does it does but in the meantime, it doesn't cost you anything to sign up so if you feel like being social, set up your Ping account and start following some friends and artists.
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