Ping has been kind of a dud. There are a lot of great artists on the site and it’s a cool way to share with your Twitter fans what music you like and are buying, but there’s a disconnect between the form and function. I think that today’s feature of iTunes, the live stream of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ new album I’m With You, can be one way to really get people involved.

Having listened to the Red Hot Chili Peppers since the release of their Blood Sugar Sex Magik album in 1991, it’s no small thing to say I was pretty excited today when Flea announced on Twitter that iTunes (and their site) would be streaming the new album. After work, I immediately opened iTunes, clicked the link pictured here and listened while I worked. What a great feeling to hear this new music one week before it’s officially released!

I’m quite excited about iTunes doing this — it’s new to me — and I like to see iTunes being a real connecting point between the artists and the listeners. Maybe Ping hasn’t quite taken off, but it offers something no other service does. I purchased Chad Smith’s Bombastic Meatbats debut CD, Meet the Meatbats, last year. A couple of days later, Chad Smith (RHCP’s drummer) himself Pinged a thank you note to me. How awesome!

What I think is missing is getting Ping in front of the user all the time. It’s great that it’s incorporated into Twitter, and somewhat integrated into the iDevices, but there’s a critical piece missing — ease of use and motivation. I think ease of use is relatively minor and can be overcome by motivating people to use it more. I enjoy the iTunes exclusive content. I enjoy the accessibility to the artists, but this should be tightened up a lot. More streaming events, live or recorded, broadcast on iTunes with a live Pinging session between artists and listeners would be great. Maybe even just events where the artists will be online answering questions and talking with the fans would be cool.

What do you think it would take to turn Ping into a functional and daily part of your musical life?

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