Spotify vs. MOG

This is as much for myself as for anyone who reads this. Now that Spotify landed in the US, it’s attracted my attention. I’m already paying $10/month for MOG. Can Spotify take my $10 and make my experiences even better?

Music Selection

So far, so good. I had one of my family members suggest a few (tiny) artists, and they’ve come up. I found Sarah Fimm, which is always a good sign. However, some odd things were missing. MOG has more of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack than Spotify. (MOG has “The Last March of the Ents”, while Spotify does not.)

Nevertheless, Spotify seems very strong. No other service besides MOG has pulled up search results for some of the terms I’ve pulled in, until now. Spotify so far matches MOG in almost every way.

Edit: since I’ve started finding more disparities between the two’s catalogs, I’ve decided to keep a list:

  • MOG has more Lord of the Rings soundtrack albums than Spotify.
  • MOG has the artist Arcade Fire; Spotify does not.

Write in the comments area if you have any other artists or albums you want me to look for.

Access to that Music Selection

Ahh, yes. Now it gets interesting. MOG doesn’t use a downloaded client. They stick to a lightweight web interface. This means I can listen to MOG wherever I am. With Spotify, not so much.

Once you’re logged in, though, how do the services compare? Spotify wins in more ways than one.

Spotify doesn’t just have everything MOG does, which includes playlists, favorites, “What’s New”, and a nicely-organized search. Spotify’s client is also fast. Searches return results right away, and navigation through their library is snappy and responsive. It feels almost like their entire library index is sitting on my computer. Spotify is also linked to my Facebook account, which means my friends’ playlists and favorites can be browsed and played.

Music playback is much better in Spotify. Skipping songs, or skipping around within a song, all happens so fast sometimes I wonder if it even had to stream to play it. To make that even faster, Spotify can seamlessly link my locally-stored music into the Spotify catalog, so that music I already have downloaded is used (as long as they’re MP3 or MP4) instead of streaming it. Any DRM-encrypted or unplayable formats are still recognized, but streamed whenever I attempt to play them.

MOG won’t do any of that.


There really is no competition here.

First of all, the user interface feels much more native in Spotify than MOG. Buttons, menus, and lists are clearly buttons, menus, and lists, rather than a stylized collection of black, white, and red boxes, however pretty it looks. Consistency wins every time.

Different areas in Spotify are accessible almost immediately, thanks to a menu across the bottom of the screen. In MOG, to access another area, one has to use the hardware back button to get back to the main menu.

Spotify will not only sync all my playlists and favorites, but also my local files. Imagine that. Google Music still wins in format support, but if you have a library full of mp3 and mp4 songs, that won’t be an issue. Besides, Spotify syncs over the network. Google Music will sync at any location, but always over the Internet. Spotify also watches your mobile phone or iPod storage, and restrains itself from reducing your free space below than a specified percentage (10% by default). In addition, this sync is available for free! It’s the streaming you have to pay for. MOG won’t do any of that.


I actually don’t have enough experience in this area, at least for Spotify. I can tell you that MOG is a company that seriously listens to their customers. If they’re missing music, they have an e-mail address where customers can e-mail requests, and a human replies with either a satisfactorily-detailed reason why MOG couldn’t get you that album, or a date when the album will be available. They also have a website set up where users can post ideas and vote up others’ ideas they think deserve attention. It’s been very effective, because they listen.

Spotify seems to have a similar system going for feature requests. Their community also seems a little bit stronger due to the open nature of their support forums. (MOG keeps all support requests private.) Spotify, however, doesn’t seem to be ready to receive music requests, which, in my opinion, is a big problem, considering music is the point the service exists.


If you can get past accessing the client, and finding the music you like, Spotify seems superior in every way. The user experience in all their software, including their website, is polished and solid. $10 with Spotify is going to get you quite a few more features than MOG.

However, when it comes down to just listening to music, both services are equal. MOG may have more music than Spotify, and both services allow you to listen to music in some easy fashion or other. The mobile apps for both are also easy to use and reliable. Everything for both services “Just Works”.

I use Linux, 64-bit. I have Spotify for Windows installed under WINE, and it works very well. However, the various problems I had reaching this point (howto coming soon) highlights why web-based platforms generally are better than native ones. It’s both a blessing and a curse, actually: by going native, it’s snappier, but it’s also only available on my various computers. If I can’t play my music where I’m at, what’s the point in paying for the service?

That’s what it seems to come down to, at least for me personally. If you can handle your availability limited to wherever the Spotify client is installed, you’ll enjoy Spotify much more than MOG. If you’d really much rather have a web-based interface, accessible anywhere where there’s a browser, I’d go for MOG.

What’s my choice? I’m still deciding.

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  • DJ Husky  On July 27, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    However, in the category of music quality, MOG wins hands down. Although Spotify advertises 320kbps music quality, it does not deliver on most songs,

    • javaJake  On July 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm

      That was a really interesting read. At this point, unless Spotify can step up their game and match the flexibility of MOG, in both catalog requests and accessibility, I’m sticking to MOG. They not only were ahead in the technology and customer “listening”/support, but now in honesty as well.

      Thank you for the info!

    • lele  On July 27, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      @javaJake Thanks so much for taking your time to write this review – I’m sure a lot of streaming music enthusiasts are making the same comparison and will find this very useful.

      @DJ Husky I would add that there is no comparison in terms of user interface. Using the Spotify client feels like iTunes in ’01. Search and artist radio, in particular, really underperform vs MOG.

      In my view – if you are willing to pay for premium – then the choice is between MOG and Rdio (the latter if social is really important to you).

      Spotify will have widespread adoption, but it only makes sense if you want a free product (which unfortunately for the creative part of the industry many do, even when you can have true 320kbps everywhere you go for just $10).

  • Ariel  On July 28, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Great review, thanks. I, too, am looking at MOG and Spotify. I’ve had MOG for many months, and I kind of like the mobile interface. For me, Spotify wins the “integration” fight, since MOG is a secondary music system on both my computers and phone. Spotify can tackle both my own and its own files. That said, I really dislike having to “sync” files to my phone from another source. The ability to lookup an artist in the MOG mobile app and then download on any wifi connect, say at Starbucks, is a big plus. One wonders whether MOG will introduce the integrated aspects that we see in Spotify.

    • Jacob Godserv  On August 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      Just a small correction here: Spotify (paid) does allow you to cache songs offline, just like MOG does.

  • Carl  On July 31, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    For me looking at Playlists created by users on MOG is the real deciding factor.
    I have discovered many artists that I missed. The plus to this feature, again for me is that I can look at and listen to these Playlists without friending or making contact with the creator. I’m looking for music not friends… I have friends, unfortunately their taste in music sucks.

  • Paul Kelly  On October 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    MOG streams all songs at 320 kbps at all subscription levels, even free. Spotify’s default stream is 160 kbps. It only streams at 320 kbps for Premium subscribers, and even then not all tunes are streamed at 320.

    Translation: MOG sounds a hell of a lot better than Spotify, even to the non-audiophile’s ear. That’s a huge difference for me.

    • bill  On November 20, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      Paul – You just made up my mind for me. As soon as my Sonos Connect:Amp arrives, I’ll start my MOG subscription.

  • Shang Pav  On November 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    There are so many things that this article admits about MOG that make it a better service to a logical mind that has tried neither.. I do not see how having less music, and less ways to access it could still result in a better service. From reading this article, MOG sounds better.. just sayin! : )

  • Joe Shockley  On December 19, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Prior to MOG and Spotify launching in the US, I thought for sure that I’d be in love with Spotify, but then MOG & Rdio showed up. I tried them both and fell in love with Rdio’s UI and iTunes scanning to build your streaming library. Then Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs came out an it was no where to be found on Rdio, but MOG had it all! I made the switch. Then MOG launched on the ROKU and allowed multiple devices to login in using the same User ID. That was the tipping point for me. My wife and I could use the same ID on our iPhones, the Roku and at work via the browser. I’ve been quite the devotee ever since.

    I still don’t know if MOG will survive in the end, but for the time being they seem to be the best service going in terms of proce, selection & accessibility.

    All that aside I read an interesting article recently that brought up the idea that music just needs to be an API, a service that developers can simply hook into their apps.

    As a musician, I like this idea… We’ll see how it all plays out in the end.

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