People have a lot of different options for acquiring digital music these days. You can purchase songs or albums through a service that charges per file, like Amazon or the Apple iTunes Store. You can (illegally) download everything for free through Napster-like clients, torrent hubs like The Pirate Bay, or file upload sites like Megaupload. You can even buy CDs and import them digitally all by yourself, like the good old days. Or, you can subscribe to a service that lets you stream all the music you want to your computer and smartphone, like Rdio or MOG.
So which should you do? Personally, I don’t think there’s one right answer. But if you’re running a business that offers one of the above models, you probably feel differently.
David Hyman, founder and CEO of MOG and former CEO of Gracenote, believes that the cloud-based subscription model makes the most sense for “the real music lovers.” It’s nearly all the music you’ll ever need, made available in high quality, and at a more-than-reasonable price.
For $9.99, subscribers get access to the entire MOG library from both their computer and mobile device (iOS or Android). There’s also a $4.99 option that doesn’t include the ability to stream to mobile or the option to download and keep songs.
A screenshot of the home screen for MOG's Google Chrome player:
I spoke to Hyman on the phone because I wanted to ask him one thing: how is MOG different from Rdio, which offers an identical pricing structure for its own music subscription business? (Both companies have raised significant rounds in the last year; Rdio with $17.5 million and MOG with $9.5 million.) His main argument is that, while the two competing offerings sound similar on paper, it really comes down to the front-end and the discovery tools. MOG, its CEO believes, offers an easier way to find music with a better-looking interface.
As a third-party observer, I’d say that’s still up for debate. But MOG does indeed have very elegant applications for the Web and mobile user.
Audiophiles will love MOG more for just one reason. While Rdio offers its MP3s in 256 kbps, MOG provides higher quality 320 kbps files.
Of course, each of the many options for acquiring digital music comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. If you download torrents, you might risk getting sued by the RIAA for thousands of dollars. If you buy (a lot of music) through Amazon and iTunes, you’ll be spending way more than $9.99 a month. With MOG, the downsides are obvious.
For one, if you don’t have Internet access, you’re out of luck; so have fun trying to blast all that infinite music while camping in the Mojave Desert.
Secondly, while MOG’s library is certainly bountiful, it is by no means exhaustive. Apple pretty recently added The Beatles to its iTunes Store, but many other digital music services, including MOG, still lack those rock & roll legends. Then there’s more contemporary omissions, like Radiohead’s “The King of Limbs.” The album was self-released by the band a few days ago through their website, and it’s still not available to MOG users.
And for the more hardcore music lovers, you’ll likely find that a few of your favorite titles turn up missing all the time. (Hey MOG: where’s Carly Simon’s “Why,” for all the underground disco mavens?)
In the end, the truth is that real music lovers will listen to their favorite tunes through a variety of sources. I download music, buy vinyl, and, for now, use MOG too. There are endless models; what’s yours?