Tag Archives: Music

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.

Mobile

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.

Support

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.

Overall

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.

A Short Review of MOG

Logging into MOG is liking walking into a record store and listening to whatever you want for however long you want. MOG provides a huge selection of music that’s only as limited as far their agreements with labels reach. The monthly plan starts at $5/month, though I believe there are discounts that bring it closer to $4/month if you get a long-term subscription. This is extremely competitive, and well worth it depending on how much music you listen to and discover. (I make more than enough discoveries for it to be worth the cost.) Continue reading

Last.fm: The Ultimate Hub of Music Activity

I used to use Pandora.com. I loved it. It showed me all kinds of tracks I didn’t know about. But, then it got steadily repetitive. It couldn’t think outside the specific box I’d given it.

last.fm is different, and it because it does things differently, most people instantly get aggravated and move back to Pandora. Hey, I did that a few years ago myself, but now I was back to try it again.

And now I get what last.fm is doing. Continue reading

FLAC, MusicBrainz, ReplayGain, Songbird, and Last.fm

With the closing down of the MediaMaster service (due to financial issues, apparently), I’ve had to find other ways to enjoy my music on multiple platforms. In the end, I settled on rsync as being the simplest, cheapest alternative.

Syncing my libraries is extremely easy, compared to iTunes, for example. All my ratings, dates, etc., get updated on whatever computer I happen to be rsyncing. This is because my new favorite music player, Songbird, writes any changes I make back to the song file! Most music player software keep a cache of its own metadata seperated from the actual song files, which is good if you don’t want your songs modified, I guess, but I want my ratings and whatever else updated on all my libraries. Songbird allows me to do this without syncing the entire application too. Continue reading

Last.fm: Not What I Expected

I’ve always considered last.fm to be more… well… social. You get together with your buddies, and talk about music, and try different tracks. Well, it turns out to be as good, if not better than Pandora. Not only can you listen to music in more locations outside your browser, but its formula seems to work better.

So, just for reference, here’s my profile link. Nothing spectacular yet, as I’ve only just begun listening today.

MediaMaster – Your Music, Anywhere: Now with Open API

I don’t think I’ve mentioned MediaMaster here yet, but it’s about time I do. I use it quite a bit, and love it! I have all my music uploaded to my free account, which, despite being free, has unlimited storage! I’ve also uploaded my own picture to give make my profile (note: all songs are limited to 30-second previews for legal reasons) be my own, and give me that warm fuzzy feeling all backgrounds should give you when you look at ’em. *wink*

The interface itself is awesome.  They have 17 different columns, and you can decide which ones you want, and where each one goes. You can view your collection through one giant list of songs, albums, or artists. You can change the artist or album view to list, thumb, or tile (hybrid of thumb and list) views. There’s also a quick search that helps you filter out songs until you find the one you want. All these features and more are a result of MediaMaster listening to their users, and writing in most of the requested features within months! This is almost unheard of in the Web 2.0 world, where small companies can’t handle (or don’t want to handle) the amounts of feedback they receive.

If you’ve been moving from one music player to the next, you know how much of a pain it is to move your ratings and playlists and whatnot from place to place. MediaMaster hopes to be an end to those troubles my providing you one location to store all your music. If you don’t want to use their Flash client, you can write your own using their Open API they just released. I’m writing up a quick console-like application to help developers (and myself) figure out how the API works faster by giving them (and myself) a tool to play around with without coding anything.

Dancing In My Cell

I’ve been playing around with Pandora. It’s actually working very very well (guide for using it effectively coming at some point). I’ve found all kinds of songs that I like. In fact, Pandora is the only service that was able to show me what genre I liked. One station literally went from rock to new age because of how I was rating!

So, as I was rating and listening, I discovered this really weird song. Some don’t like it, but I enjoy it’s music and how the lyrics provide an image of someone dancing in their cell, possibly just before they are punished for murder by hanging. (Lyrics are hard to come by, but with Google, anything’s possible.)

A definite buy for me…

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