As I mentioned in my review of Rdio and MOG, both are excellent services and each provides plenty of value for the $10 monthly fee. Yet when it comes down to it, I really only need a single ‘on demand’ service – so I needed to make a choice.
As a reminder, both MOG and Rdio offer on-demand listening on millions of songs from all of the major music labels. Each has a web player, as well as apps to run on Android, iPhone, and at least some amount of set-top entertainment devices like Roku, but neither has an iPad app (2x mode for both).
Both have high and low quality streaming to optimize for bandwidth usage, and allow you to download tracks to your devices to play in offline mode later – something both I and my kids do extensively. Due to licensing restrictions, only one device can stream from an account at a time.
Also, both services are obviously ‘music focused’. That might sound obvious, but it goes beyond the business of just having an overall music service and app solution – each service has a great music-focused blog, makes music-centric improvements to their apps, and curates their new additions so you learn something along the way and hear stuff you might otherwise have missed. This really helps out when exploring music discovery and unknown artists.
But I chose MOG to go forward with over Rdio, and have canceled my Rdio subscription. Here are the four main reasons:
1. Library: services like this live and die on their music library, in terms of breadth of artists, depth or repertoire, and spanning classics of all genres as well as new and noteworthy releases. In every single one of these areas MOG is superior – when I searched for Gary Burton’s new CD a few weeks back MOG had it on ‘Day One’, whereas Rdio took a few days. Searching Derek Bailey and Anthony Braxton and Jack Dejohnette and John Abercrombie and a bunch of others yielded more results on MOG than Rdio. Each site gets exclusive new releases for a few days, but in general I have found more cool stuff (like Gillian Welch’s new release) on MOG. Estimates put the MOG library at ~11 million and the Rdio library at ~8.5, and while both have loads of music I actually saw a difference.
2. Social Integration: In my review I mentioned that the social aspects of Rdio felt fragmented and bolted on, whereas MOG wore their social elements proudly on their sleeve. What does that matter? Well, if all you do is play albums you search out, it really doesn’t matter much – and that was how I started with using on-demand services. However, I quickly found myself digging into ‘playlists’ and ‘similar artists’ and then making my own stuff and sharing. For example, I have been enjoying Sonny Sharrock’s ‘Ask the Ages’, which then connected me into some James Blood Ulmer I had never heard before as well as other stuff by Henry Kaiser I knew but hadn’t listened to in a while. Social music discovery is much more fun and exciting than I ever gave it credit for (mostly because the majority of implementations are garbage, I suppose), but now that I have seen it done right through MOG I won’t settle for less.
3. Sign In On More Than One Device at a Time licensing limitations mean that you can only stream content from a single device at a time, but most services take that to mean that if you start an app somewhere you shut out everyone else. Since MOG (and Rdio) allows you to download tracks to mobile devices for offline listening, you know it is possible to use a ‘portable license’ to run more than one app at a time. Yet if more than one device is online, most apps (including Rdio when I was using it) will basically freak out and pretty much shut down. MOG used to do that as well, but will now allow you to do everything but stream music from a second … or third … or fourth device. I tried on Mac, PC, Android and iOS simultaneously without issue.
4. User Interface: I also mentioned the Rdio ‘learning curve’ in my review, and while it never stopped me, it remained more laborious to do pretty much EVERYTHING in Rdio. The only interface element I prefer is the way that search results are separated into ‘tops’ for songs, albums, and so on. On MOG you get the entire list. However, over time I have realized that while searching Pat Metheny or Miles Davis returns a massive list, most artists have fewer than a dozen recordings. Aside from that everything takes more work – especially accessing non-core elements such as the social functionality.
I can easily see someone saying that these are minor quibbles, and for #3 and #4 that is certainly true. However, a service lacking music I want is a pretty big deal, and really making use of the service involves taking advantage of like-minded music fans … and MOG has that hands-down over Rdio.
Of course, now Spotify has launched in the U.S. with a larger library and more social integration, so I need to factor THAT into my decision making process … and also I have been loving Slacker Premium more and more all the time due to how you can easily stream loads of tracks on-demand and they have a better radio system than any on-demand service. Over the coming weeks I will be looking more and more at both of those services, and by the end of the summer I expect to have a final decision on where I will hang my on-demand music hat.
What do you think? Have you tried MOG and Rdio – and if so what did you think? Is Slacker or Pandora or Rhapsody meeting your needs? Have you just been waiting for Spotify? Or do you think this whole streaming non-owned music thing is just nuts? Tell us in the comments!