MOG demo'd the next version of their popular music service to me today, and I was impressed. It combines a best of breed interface with free on demand streaming and a Pandora-like music recommendation engine. The trouble is, it may never launch because only two of the four major music labels are supporting it so far.
MOG has a history of doing cool new things around music. The service today includes a media player plugin that records and analyzes your music habits, a website that has a dedicated page for every artist, album and song with user generated reviews and posts, and an advertising network that provides revenue for 300 top music blogs. Users can also stream music via an excellent front end to Rhapsody.
All of that brings about 5 million unique visitors a month to their network, and the company says they should bring in about $5 million in revenue in 2009.
Now they've created a new music streaming product that breaks away from Rhapsody and its limitations. Like competitor ilike, which also uses Rhapsody, users can only stream 25 songs per month for free. That doesn't compete well with free streaming services like MySpace Music, iMeem, Last.fm and others.
The new service, dubbed Mog 3.0 internally, is a fully free music streaming service that lets users play whatever songs they like on demand. The user interface is as good or better than LaLa, a service that we love despite the fact that streaming isn't completely free. Founder David Hyman and VP Product T Jay Fowler gave me a demo of Mog 3.0 earlier today.
The service combines the ease of use of LaLa with free, which is enough to get our attention. But it also has a recommendation service that rivals Pandora when it comes to discovering new music.
The interface is genius. Users search or browse songs, artists or albums and then start listening to the music. More songs from that artist are suggested and added to the results as you play the songs. And if you move the slider to the right (see image to right), related music is added as well. That lets the user decide if they want a playlist-driven on demand music experience, or to change things up and add Pandora-style related music to the mix.
It doesn't stop there. Users can also create playlists with the best tool on the market – it's easier to create and share playlists than even Project Playlist offers, and users can associate a name, description and image with each playlist as well.
MOG plans to make other changes to the service as well, including adding streaming music to content pages, and creating user profiles that highlight the music you listen to and like. It brings in the best social aspects of Last.fm.
The product is compelling.
But it will quite possibly never launch.
MOG has label deals with Sony BMG and Universal locked up. They'll provide streaming music rights for free in exchange for a revenue share. But Warner and EMI remain on the sidelines, and MOG says they won't launch unless and untill they have all four major labels under agreement.
I, for one, really hope to see MOG 3.0 launch sometime soon. And if the last two labels don't jump on board, MySpace should strongly consider buying MOG. MySpace has label deals locked up but their product continues to have unacceptable technical glitches. The music player is very slow to load and songs have an annoying tendency to skip during playback. Perhaps the MOG team can put that right for them.
More screen shots below – top image is the playlist tool, below that is a user profile page.