By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
Apple announced a lot of cool stuff last week. Say what you will about the new iPhone (yes, it’s taller, and that’s okay) or that new Lightning dock connector (it’s going to be a huge pain, but Apple can do whatever it wants with its dock connectors, and it’s not like this is the first time it has upset everybody by changing its cable strategy), or even those EarPods, which took three years to make (yes, they’re better than the old ones, but no, they’re not as good as your $100-plus pair).
However, one feature does look like particularly weak sauce: iTunes music sharing.
Apple has integrated Facebook and Twitter sharing across iOS 6, so in iTunes, once you have the new iOS — and I assume you will, if you are reading this far, because only the most self-flagellating Android user would bother, and it’ll run on all iPhones back to the 3GS — you’ll be able to share any song in iTunes via email, text message, Twitter, or Facebook, or by copying the link into whatever newfangled thing you prefer.
The same as today, you’ll only be able to share a 90-second sample. Unless the song you’re trying to share is only a minute and a half long (like this monstrosity I once made), it’ll cut off prematurely. @bencalegari, who has already installed iOS 6, shared a song with me using the screen to the right, which shows what it looks like in iOS 6 when you share an iTunes song. It sent me a link to this page on iTunes, where I can hear the 90-second sample in question.
Only 90 seconds? In 2012? Really? I guess it’s an upgrade from the old 30-second samples, but still: It’s not a song.
We know what the Apple fanboys will say about this, and they have a point: Apple added this feature so that you could point your friends towards a song they might want to buy, and that’s their right. But in the absence of some sort of revenue-sharing scheme that would get you iTunes credits in return for convincing people to buy stuff, I’m at a loss as to why anyone would actually use this feature in real life to share a song, when there are so many other excellent ways to share entire songs legally these days. And yes, I also acknowledge that Apple would have to have some sort of unlimited music service to do this. Maybe that’s the point here, ultimately.
Here are five things we would rather do than share a 90-second song sample in iOS 6, in no particular order:
1. Listen to music in MOG, Rdio, Rhapsody, Spotify, or any other Facebook-Connected music app
Yes, by merely listening to a song on one of the countless apps that integrates with Facebook through the Facebook Connect protocol. you’ve shared the song with all of your Facebook friends. Granted, they might not click to listen to it (which they can do in their news ticker or by going to the Music section of your profile), but if you really want them to hear about it, you can always use the active sharing feature. And unlike with iTunes, they’ll be able to play the whole song without buying anything.
2. Post a YouTube video
As noted here earlier, the youth of today think YouTube is a music service, and they’re right. You can find nearly anything on YouTube, music-wise — even stupendously awesome recordings that aren’t on any “music service” that bills itself as such. Most of these videos can be shared in the same ways that Apple lets you share iTunes links, so, yeah.
3. Share a song on This Is My Jam
For me, the allure of This Is My Jam has not faded, even now that I have posted my 204th jam. The site lets you post any recorded, publicly-available song in the world, or darn close to it, by integrating with not only YouTube but also SoundCloud, BandCamp, every music blog indexed by Hype Machine, or any MP3 on the internet. Your followers can tune into just your jam after being alerted on the site, Facebook, or Twitter, or they can stumble across it as they listen to the Jams of everyone they follow. It works with smartphones, and there’s even a Spotify app that keeps the Jams of the past alive. (Transparency: London-based This Is My Jam was incubated by The Echo Nest, publisher of Evolver.fm.)
4. Share a Spotify playlist
If you have access to a website that can post HTML, you can embed songs or entire Spotify playlists there, for free. If you’d like, you can even make them collaborative, like this Evolver.fm fourth of July playlist, so that your friends or anyone else can mess around with the song order, add stuff, or delete it.
5. Go back in time and broadcast internet radio from our iPhone
Wahwah.fm (not to be confused with Wah-Wah) is no more, sadly, having folded after citing the difficulties of keeping up with royalty payments. But for a while there, it let you turn the music on your iPhone into an internet radio station. That was neat. And as with everything else in this list, it let you share complete songs, instead of 90-second samples.