There was elation last year when the long anticipated Spotify music streaming service finally reached us from across the pond. We highlighted its features & praised most aspects of it while pointing out a handful of items that needed improvement. The music streaming space became awfully competitive and crowded with several others all battling for a share of the burgeoning market. In order to unseat the market leader, competitors have had to step up their game. Happily, one such service has really hit a home run. So while I enthusiastically paid for Spotify’s premium service since its arrival, I have recently discontinued my paid account. After evaluating all major competitors including rdio & Slacker, I’ve determined that MOG is leading the pack in the music streaming arena.
MOG, founded in 2005, has one simple goal: “To perfect your music listening experience.” Over the last several weeks of heavy use, I have found MOG to be the closest to this lofty goal for me of any of the major streaming services. Boasting a library of about 15 Million songs, MOG not only has a gorgeous interface in their apps & on the web, it also has superior sound quality and the easiest to use. Read on to learn more about this great service and some reasons that separate it from its rivals.
Music: Regardless of any other feature, a music service has to have killer music. MOG nails both quantity and quality. Unlike some other services, all of MOG’s vast 15 Million song library stream at a robust 320kbps offering the highest quality listening experience possible. This is true for both mobile and desktop apps and all levels of service. Much of thier music simply sounds better. This is especially true when listening on better quality speakers or headphones.
There are some bands you will find on MOG that are nowhere else, like Pink Floyd, but all-in-all, I have found both Spotify and MOG’s libraries very similar.
So while the audio quality is definitely a huge incentive to using MOG, and their library is as large as any, it is a handful of other features that really make this service shine:
MOG Radio: I absolutely love this feature. When enabled, at the conclusion of your play queue, MOG keeps playing indefinitely with similar music. A convenient slider allows you to customize the stream from artist only songs to a full mix of similar artists a la Pandora. The suggestions when sliding away from Artist only radio, are always spot-on. I have found a ton of great music via MOG Radio that I never would have found with Spotify. One of my major gripes with Spotify is having to know what you want to hear: discovery is difficult. Note that Spotify does now offer a radio app in their PC based client, it does not work seamlessly with the now playing queue nor is it offered in the mobile app.
Further, unlike Pandora, the queue is built in advance and displayed with MOG Radio. You can easily delete songs from the queue that you are not interested in listening to, or even jump ahead to a song you’d like to hear right away.
[MOG Radio showing suggestions from Felice Brothers' "Frankie's Gun" on iPad]
Browser Based: Unlike Spotify which only runs through a stand alone app, (or compatible music services like Sonos) MOG is accessed through a browser with HTML5. This provides for blazingly fast start-up and play back. As I am typically in my browser anyway while on my computer, I find that not having to start up another application is a major time saver. Similarly, it lets me quickly access my music from any computer regardless if there is an app installed. However, for those that do prefer a stand-alone app and don’t want to open a browser, there are PC and MAC apps. Both versions offer capability of broadcasting to AirPlay speakers and compatibility with media keyboards and Apple remotes. While I only have one AirPlay device in my house, being able to instantly push a song to either my AirPlay speaker or even my Boxee to play through my speakers as a major bonus.
Best Interface: Across both their desktop apps and mobile apps, MOG’s interface is simply better. Better display. Better album art and more intuitive layout. Additionally, while Spotify continues to promise an iPad app, MOG has already delivered a stunningly beautiful app offering everything you need crisply and neatly displayed: Player controls, album art, queue and other features. Simple things such as creating a playlist from now playing queue is a snap. Maybe it is just me, but I never figured out how to do that with Spotify in one step.
[Album View Web Player]
No problems with playback: One of the most frustrating things with Spotify was tracks added to a playlist that could not be played on mobile (you know, the ones that are X’ed out). Or that had to be replaced with an alternate track (possibly completely different version). This is not only a problem with mobile playback but also with connected services like Sonos. MOG’s tracks all play perfectly across all devices and platforms. Additionally, while Spotify’s attempt to integrate your own locally owned music with their tunes in the cloud was admirable, it caused more problems than it was worth. There’s no chance with MOG of attempting to listen to a playlist with most songs unavailable due to the fact that they were only locally owned by playlist creator.
All You Can Eat Music: MOG’s paid highest tier of service, ”Primo,” allows for offline listening by downloading tracks to your devices just like Spotify. While Spotify allows you to download a relatively hefty amount of tracks (3,333), that limit does not exist with MOG: you can download and save truly unlimited amounts of tracks.
Other things to know:
Social and Sharing Social music discovery is a pretty important component to many people and their music listening ecosystem. MOG recognizes this and their HTML5 player and desktop apps for MAC and Windows include deep Facebook integration to provide a personalized experience by making recommendations based on your listening habits as well your Facebook “likes” and your friends Facebook “likes.” Users can share what they’re listening to from Facebook, Twitter or email links. Unlike Spotify, Facebook is not a prerequisite.
Gapless Playback This is one area that MOG has not perfected. The problem is particularly pronounced in the Web Player. The mobile apps, particularly the iOS ones, are pretty good in this regard. However, most playback includes a second or so between tracks which can be particularly frustrating with live music, jazz, classical and other genres.
Cost Free level is supported by ads, Basic is $4.99/month and allows unlimited music and no ads, Primo is $9.99/month and allows for unlimited listening and downloads, mobile use and no ads.
Bottom Line All the major music streaming services have similar libraries of millions and millions of tracks. What separates MOG is the quality of the interface, the apps, MOG radio and the fidelity and quality of the music. If you haven’t given MOG a chance yet: What are you waiting for? There is no need to discontinue your existing service, if any, as MOG’s basic level is free. Give it a chance for a couple of weeks and you may find, like I did, that this is the one to pay for.
Hidden Track Technology Tuesday