MOG's $5 all-you-can-eat streaming music subscription service has finally launched. Although we interviewed CEO David Hyman in mid October, the music industry has changed considerably in the last two months. Imeem sold to MySpace for a song, and competitor Spotify is rumored to be delaying a United States launch as it refuses to enter North America with a paid-only version. We spoke to MOG CEO David Hyman to find out his thoughts on the industry and why his service is different from his competitors.
How has Spotify's delay and Imeem's acquisition affected your service?
We've just been watching from the sidelines waiting for the stars to align to launch a service that's sustainable. Anyone in ad-supported music has had a hard time, including free radio. The freemium services have to offer their subscriptions at at least $15 per month to offset the cost of their free service. We're the first personal radio service where you can play radio, jump to an album on demand and offer it all online without client installation.
In the past MOG allowed bloggers to link to music through the blogging network, and you weren't really responsible for that. Now you're taking a more active role. Do you want to comment on that?
There's two types of bloggers on our network, there are those that use MOG.com as a platform and take advantage of our tools and there are the 3rd party bloggers (1,000 top music bloggers) that are on our network but use their own tools. Platform bloggers will see music playlists seamlessly integrate through the MOG service - you'll notice that whenever you go to review a song, it's already pre-embedded in the post. Whereas 3rd party bloggers will get the VIP service for free and be able to use embedding tools to become part of our affiliate program.
You've got some great discovery tools. Between all your discovery features and a mobile app that caches playlists on the horizon, why would anyone want to buy a track through your site? Are downloads really necessary anymore?
Well, it's important to download a song if you're listening on a device that can't sync. But honestly, we're betting that consumption in the cloud is the future. One problem subscription music services have faced is lack of portability. Today, with the power of smart phones, playlist caching and 3G there's a lot more you can do.
Your mobile app is supposed to offer offline caching of playlists. When will that appear on the scene?
You'll see that in the first three months of 2010.
While you've remarked that freemium models are not sustainable, a few of your competitors have scratched their heads on how you'd make a $5-per-month service sustainable with this mobile component. Can you comment?
Our mobile service will be at a slightly higher rate - under $15 but more than $5. I wish I could charge $5 for everything but the labels charge me more than that.
We noticed you're featuring video content on the blogs. Spotify's Daniel Ek once suggested that streaming media services can stream anything, including video. Have you got any plans to incorporate video into the service?
You'll likely see some video content featured next year, but the amount of video we have compared to music files in tiny. We've only got about 1 or 2 videos per album and that's for the really popular artists.
And finally, what are your favorite features in the site?
I'm lazy. I just like that I can type anything I want to listen to into the search bar and stream radio. I like to listen to Miles Davis radio or Tom Waits radio and I don't even move the discovery slider over.
MOG All Access Features
While MOG offers your basic web service with a pop-out player and the ability to save to your streaming library or playlists, it also offers a number of unique features:
Discovery Bar: Users move a slider across a discovery/recommendation bar to listen to similar artists. The top of the slider offers music from just your searched artist, and the other end of the spectrum offers all new recommendations.
Voting and Radio: Users can also vote music up and down in a Pandora-like fashion and listen to music in "radio"-mode (continuous play), or simply listen to their playlists.
Reviews: Users can also search for lyrics and info through the player, and MOG will push them back to the MOG blog network. From here you can rate songs with the song pre-linked in your posts, and add your favorite concert memory, videos and images. Review pages also show the top listeners of a particular artist ,and like other music fan services, you can scroll through artist bios, news, photos, songs, albums and reviews. Users can also play music through the blogging network if they choose to discover music via the reviews.
Playlists: Users can add any searchable track to their personal library or to a custom playlist. You can also search for an artist and add entire albums or artist collections as one big playlist. In addition to being able to listen to your own playlists, you can also listen to featured community playlists and playlists created by artists. For instance, if you're in the mood for an artist-curated experience, TV on the Radio gives you a "Radio on the Internet" playlist while DJ Shadow offers his "Hyphy" mix. You can also share your own playlist with others by making it public. Users upload a photo that represents their mix, and add tracks either through the website or via the player.
Social: Similar to Facebook, user activity is shown in a feed and friends can watch each other depending on user privacy settings. You can also track your favorite MOG-users and music bloggers. In the past you could see when your favorite blogger was posting, but now you can also build playlists around that post. Users can also push their playlist choices and blog entries out to Facebook and Twitter.
To check out the service for yourself register for it at mog.com.