Connect is the part of Apple Music that's meant to provide a way for artists to share more with their fans, from remixes to rough-cuts. So, what's it like to use?
Dave Wiskus, who apart from being a frequent podcast co-host of mine, and well known iOS designer, is also a musician who joined Connect when it was announced. He's working on a project and, as part of it, wanted to share something from his and fellow designer and musician Joe Cieplinski's band, Airplane Mode. Dave detailed the process, and came to this conclusion, on Better Elevation:
Someone asked why I believed that Connect would ever be better than Ping, Apple's previous attempt at socialifying iTunes. Ping's mistake was that it tried to connect listeners to each other, as a way of discovering new music. Apple Music has re-thought that problem in some very interesting ways, and early indications are that the new approach works. For the social component, Connect wants to be about connecting artists with their listeners, but at the moment, it falls short.
These are early days, and there's hope. I don't like complain-y posts where designers pick something apart and either offer no meaningful ideas or, worse, presumptuously redesign someone else's work. So instead I'm going to break the fourth wall and make a simple suggestion to Apple: consult with independent musicians. Talk to bands who have succeeded on social media and see what worked for them. Talk to bands who have made great YouTube videos and find out how they get their audience to share stuff. Talk to bands who haven't made it yet and ask what tools they might need to get there.
Apple has released a GarageBand update for iOS to make posting to Connect easier for artists, and will have a similar update available for GarageBand on the Mac as well. Hopefully that makes the process somewhat easier and more intuitive.
Dave's greater point is important, however. Apple has many, many strengths, but social networks have not traditionally been among them. Apple Music and Connect are new, and that means there's tremendous opportunity to learn, iterate rapidly, and make something great.
Apple has a lot of musicians inside the company and in the community, and some immensely popular artists getting involved with Apple Music and Connect. There's every incentive and capability in the world to nail the experience for artists and fans.