AFTER DEALING with a barrage of scams on its social notworking site, Apple has decided to lay down the law to artists about what they can and cannot post on Ping.
Steve Jobs introduced Ping as a way for Itunes users to interact with artists in the hope that reading meaningless posts supposedly authored by artists will help shift more songs on Itunes. The problem is, artists don't like being controlled, as record labels will attest to, and that's a bit of a problem for Jobs, who likes to wield a level of control that would be the envy of a tin pot dictator.
Apple has produced an "Artist Guide and Best Practices" for Ping. The nine-page document has been handed out to intermediaries that artists have to go through before having their account turned into an "artist profile".
The document is roughly split into two sections, with the first two pages outlining the limitations and what would roughly be termed as policy guidelines while the rest explain how to get video from Apple devices onto Ping accounts.
As we are talking about Apple here, there are many technological restrictions present. The only video formats supported by Ping are Quicktime and Mpeg layer 4 (MP4). Videos cannot be more than 2GB in size or 10 minutes long, while pictures cannot be larger than 10MB. Those file size restrictions are fair enough, but Apple's "content policies" are sure raise the ire of artists who, apparently, like to retain control over their creative freedom.
Here then is a list of Steve Jobs' policies for Ping and who, we think, might be affected.
- Videos, photos, and text posts should not contain pornography, hate speech, racism, nudity, or any references to or depictions of drug use. That should mean P Diddy and his 'bros' are out. Amy Winehouse might also need to make several lifestyle choices if she wants to take part in Steve Jobs' moneymaking scheme. We also tend to doubt that Lady Gaga is going to want to cover up and censor her song lyrics just to please old man Jobs.
- Posts should not include advertisements or links to sites outside of Itunes. U2 is banned, now that the band has decided to ditch Apple and take money from Research in Motion.
- Posts should not contain links to other content providers. Radiohead is gone after it decided to release In Rainbows through its own website rather than bow to record labels.
- URLs should not be included in the About section of your artist profile. It's hard to imagine any self-respecting rock musician will think a URL is anything but some kind of controlled substance, but many artists have their own websites these days and might be put off by this restriction.
- Only upload photos and videos that you have a legal right to share. Tommy Lee comes to mind, though he seems to have done fairly well out of his previous, ahem, video release.
- Do not create your artist profile until you are ready to make a post or two. Axl Rose might pause at this, given his appetite for destruction by spending a decade to produce a mediocre album that turned out to be little more than a whimper.
Many of the restrictions are understandable, given that Steve Jobs wants to keep Itunes child friendly. However it's unlikely that artists will be bothered to keep within the rules, meaning that Apple's censors are probably going to have their work cut out for them. µ