As Beats Music turns up the volume on its new streaming service (which is now live in the App Store), it is calling it a day on MOG, the streaming service its parent Beats Electronics acquired in 2012 reportedly for $10-15 million, and which forms the backbone of Beats Music: it will shut MOG down on April 15.
At the same time, some news about David Hyman, MOG’s founder who brokered the sale of the startup to Beats: he is now the CEO of Chosen, a mobile video startup still in stealth mode, according to a statement sent to TechCrunch.
The news about MOG is not yet live on MOG’s own site, but it is confirmed on the support pages of the Beats Music site. The company says it will be looking to migrate MOG users to Beats Music:
“The MOG service will remain live until April 15, after which it will be shut down, and MOG will stop accepting shortly after Beats Music goes live. Monthly billing will cease on March 15, and all yearly subscriptions will be refunded on a prorated basis,” writes the company. “Our goal is to convert as many MOG subscribers to Beats Music as possible. As part of that effort, all existing MOG subscribers will be offered a one-month free trial of Beats Music, which will be made available starting March 15.”
Beats says it’s reaching out to existing MOG users “through the MOG mobile app, web app, and through regular emails to subscribers through May 30, with additional support through social media channels, FAQs, and customer service representatives,” the company says. “Basically we’ll use every customer touch point with MOG subscribers to make them aware of their options.”
How many users that will mean is not indicated. Beats Music — which spun out of Beats Electronics in 2013 — is not disclosing how many MOG users are being affected by the change.
“We’re not discussing MOG’s subscriber numbers, but we can say there’s been very little churn since the acquisition,” the company says. “We think we’re offering MOG subscribers a compelling reason to try out the Beats Music first before they seek out other options.”
In the same year that Beats Electronics acquired MOG, the service was estimated to have 500,000 active users (that low number could have been one reason that it may have found it hard to compete against the likes of Spotify, with paying subscribers at 6 million as of March 2013). A music advertising network, the MOG Music Network, had 170 million monthly global unique visitors; that was sold to Townsquare Media in August 2012.
MOG users may be getting a month of free music to sweeten the deal, but they can’t take their playlists with them. In answer to a question about whether they would be transferrable, Beats flatly says “No.”
“We found that most MOG subscribers only kept a few playlists, so we focused our energies on making Beats Music as good as it could be. It’s worth noting that while Beats Music incorporated many elements of MOG, it was not built directly on top of MOG, so switching playlists and libraries from MOG to Beats is just as difficult as it would be to transfer the same from MOG to any other music service.”
On the subject of whether existing MOG integrations with consumer electronics are being transferred to Beats, it sounds as if these are needing to be renegotiated: “There are ongoing discussions with existing and new partners,” the company says.
One thing that will be offered for sure are ways to continue subscribing: Beats Music is offering a service bundle with AT&T, and that will be transferrable to MOG users. “MOG subscribers will begin receiving emails from us on Jan. 22 with details about the AT&T individual and family plan offers and their respective trial periods,” the company says.
Perhaps timed to coincide with the MOG news, or perhaps just coincidental, David Hyman — who founded MOG but left four months after the sale to Beats was announced — chose today to make his next move public.
Chosen — which will focus on video streaming and a wider range of performing arts beyond music — sounds like something that will draw on Hyman’s past experience. In addition to MOG, he has been the CEO of Gracenote, the music ID and database service that is now part of Sony. And between MOG and Chosen.fm, Hyman was the interim CEO at Pono, a startup from musician Neil Young that focuses on a “next generation high resolution digital distribution platform,” according to Hyman’s LinkedIn profile. Pono has yet to launch.
I asked Hyman in an email for more details about Chosen, and he says that he cannot say more, except that “it’s aimed at unsigned talent and it’s broader than music.” The news statement further notes that “Chosen is a mobile application company focused on changing how we interact and engage with the performing arts.”
It is backed by venture firm Rhodium, and Rhodium’s founder and CEO, Daniel Recanati, is also the co-founder of Chosen. Rhodium was an investor in a few interesting companies, including HopStop (sold to Apple), Face.com (sold to Facebook), and is a lead investor in Outbrain, the linking and content discovery platform.
Chosen has an engineering team of four in Israel and four other employees (including, now, Hyman) based out of San Francisco.
“Chosen is right up my alley,” Hyman said in the news release. “Music is my passion and I see this as an exciting opportunity to expand my interests into video and the broader spectrum of the performing arts. Moreover, I’m thrilled to have a brilliant engineering team working out of Israel and expand the team with additional business expertise from the States. It’s a wonderful hybrid.”