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Ping Updates: 'Ping Sidebar' Coming Soon? Record Labels Miffed at Secrecy


Aside from the occasional discussion of the Apple-Facebook negotiations prior to the launch of Apple's social networking service for music earlier this month, things have been fairly quiet when it comes to Ping. A change to Apple's iTunes Store terms and conditions today hints, however, that some changes may be afoot.

The new terms and conditions, which customers must agree to before proceeding with new purchases or downloads, mention a feature called "Ping Sidebar" that appears to be related to the serving of recommendations based on a user's activity in their iTunes library. According to the summary of the changes to the terms:

We have changed the iTunes Store Terms and Conditions to provide you with notice that if you have opted in to the Ping social network and use the new Ping Sidebar, iTunes will send information to Apple about the content you select in your iTunes library in order to provide you with Ping personal recommendations. If you do not want iTunes to send this information to Apple, you may hide the Ping Sidebar or opt out of Ping.

The actual changes to the terms include mention of "other users you may want to follow, concerts and related information, or other Products you may want to purchase" as examples of Ping personal recommendations that could be generated from this information sent back to Apple.

While Apple has offered suggestions of artists and other users for Ping users to follow, the "Ping Sidebar" appears to be a new feature offering additional types of recommendations based directly on your own iTunes library, similar in some ways to how the Genius Sidebar in iTunes can offer recommendations for music purchases. The Ping Sidebar has apparently yet to make its appearance in iTunes, however, so the full extent of its capabilities is not yet known.

On another Ping-related note, Fast Company earlier this week reported on the early reaction to Ping on the part of the music industry. According to the report's sources, music labels are miffed that they were not consulted prior to Apple's launching of the service, as the company went straight to the management of selected artists to secure their involvement at launch.

According to several music industry insiders, Ping has so far been a disappointment. "It's not a game changer," said one source, who described reaction to the iTunes' network as indifferent. A reason for this lack of enthusiasm is due to Apple keeping record labels out of the loop. Another music industry source said labels were not briefed on Ping until the day of or day after the service's launch.

"In keeping with their general practice of keeping things really, really tight, [Apple] didn't tell anyone about Ping," the source explains. "I'd say that you had a few annoyed people."

The report points to a music distributor who has reported that Apple is still manually adding artist pages to Ping one-by-one, a process that is slowing expansion of the service.