Digital music streaming is hardly a new phenomenon but with the recent entry into the US market of Europe’s Spotify service and the growing popularity of Airplay and Sonos, many consumers are either hearing about the capabilities of robust streaming services for the first time or looking at which is best for them at this point. Pandora has the largest number of users and is likely the most familiar to those reading this.
Pandora takes a radio approach to music allowing you to pick an artist and listen to that artist’s music and music from other artists that it picks, based on similarity of music styles. You don’t have the ability to pick the albums and/or songs with Pandora. You can skip songs you don’t like. With Pandora’s free service you will be served advertisements periodically (much like old fashioned radio). With the paid service ads go away. If you are looking for a free service with a better radio experience than your local station then Pandora is great. If you have a desire for enormous music access your way, read on.
MOG takes Pandora to a new level in a number of ways for paid subscribers. MOG does offer a free service as well. For free you get a limited number of song plays (with ads) and access via a computer only. With the basic subscription ($4.99/month) you get unlimited access from a computer with no ads. For $9.99 a month you get all the goodies including mobile access from your tablet or smart phone using MOG’s free app.
The MOG experience is both radio and music library. In the radio department you are able to play a radio station based around an artist, similar to Pandora, with an important twist. MOG features a 1-10 slider that lets you select songs from the artist you’ve picked only, or songs like that artist but not from the selected artist only, or anywhere in between. As an example, if the slider is halfway (5 position) every other song will be the selected artist and every other one is a similar artist to your selection.
Beyond the radio, MOG allows you to listen to full albums, pick specific songs and create and play your own playlists from their extensive library of over 12 million songs! With the premium service you’ll also be able to play back tunes offline on your mobile device(s). Simply select albums or songs to your download cue and you will have them available to you offline for playback under the downloads tab of the app, even when you are away from your Wi-Fi network or 3G tower (like on an airplane or subway ride for example).
MOG also shines with it’s quality. It offers 320k playback for all files, an industry leader at the time of this writing.
Hailing from Europe, Spotify entered the US market earlier this summer. There are more similarities between MOG and Spotify than differences. Spotify offers both library and radio services, has a very extensive library of over 15 million songs and offers 3 levels of service – Free, $4.99 and $9.99 a month. There are a number of important distinctions though.
With the free service on Spotify you get library service only (no radio), strong social features and the ability to play local files (from your own music library) in one app. Moving up to $4.99 a month picks up radio mode with no advertising. With the premium service at $9.99 a month you now get mobile capability, offline modes for both your desktop and mobile devices and select songs in 320k quality as well as the ability to use Spotify on compatible devices like Onkyo receivers, Squeezebox devices and your Sonos components.
Pitting premium services of MOG vs. Spotify you’ll find that MOG gets the edge in sound quality with all tracks offering near CD quality 320k playback. Spotify offers a base level of 160k (variable bit rate) streaming and jumps to 320k on many tracks. In the social department the Spotify experience is elevated. Offering full, fast and easy integration with Facebook and Twitter it’s easy to share what you are listening to (if you are so inclined). MOG offers some social features as well, although the interface is not as easy for most. Speaking of the user interface there are clear differences. Depending on your orientation to certain operating systems you will likely find one easier to take to than the other on your computer. On the mobile devices it seems that Spotify’s is superior in terms of it’s interface for small screen devices.
So which one? Only you can decide what’s most important. If you are looking for the best sound quality and/or the best experience around streaming radio MOG is the choice at this time. If you are looking to incorporate your local music library under one roof and share your listening habits socially you’ll probably choose Spotify. As for the user interface-I’d recommend you check them both out using their free trial period or the free version and see if this is a key differentiator for you.
One thing’s for sure – with MOG or Spotify you can discover and enjoy a ton of new music without having to make a permanent investment in buying songs or albums.