My open letter to streaming music services

I got a bug in my ear to listen to a song from Glee today. Stay with me; I know you want to click away but I promise this post is about streaming services. I looked up the song – an a cappella version of Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ (again, please keep reading) – and was pleasantly surprised to see that MOG had it. I turned it on, turned it up, then realized I should be doing some dishes.

No problem – I’ll fire it up on my phone and run it through a Bluetooth speaker system in the kitchen. There’s just one problem with that – logging into MOG on my phone logged me out on my computer. Come back to the computer later and log back in, go out to get some coffee and log out and in on the phone for the car ride and then back home, log back in, blah blah blah, you get the picture. It’s too much, and it could be so easily solved. Build a feature into both the web app and the iPhone app that allows me to tie my account to my phone so that both can be logged in.

So begins my letter to companies that dream of providing a music streaming service. You absolutely have to make a smooth experience across devices. I’ve been so pleased with MOG that I’ve gone through and deleted a shload of my own digital library, the stuff I just didn’t listen to much or was so ubiquitous I could always get it on MOG (do I really need MP3s of Aerosmith’s Big Ones?). I’m so annoyed with the device situation, though, that I’m ready to jump the MOG ship the moment someone else can do it better.

Another simple thing – make the app more like a music player. I want access to my player all the time from anywhere. I don’t want to have to play a song to see my player, which already has songs queued up by the way. Yes, I could make playlists, but I shouldn’t have to. The whole advantage of the cloud isn’t a cumbersome experience. It’s the opposite. I want your streaming service because I don’t have to keep hundreds of gigs of music around in case my taste changes. I literally dumped 30 gigs of songs last night because the cloud is so convenient. I’d love to dump 30 more.


MOG is driving me crazy

MOG for the iPhone.About a month and a hlaf ago I decided it was time to give a streaming music service a shot. Rdio had just launched with a nifty little free trial so I jumped in there right away, but the selection was severely limited. I went to MOG, which started out okay, until I realized just how much better the Rdio service is.

For starters, Rdio has a vastly superior interface. Every god damn time I open MOG I have to sign in, which is bad enough, but then I can’t just open the player from that sign in page. Yes, I can point my browser to the player location, but I do not want to. I also do not want another browser window open. Seriously, what decade is this? For all the goodness that MOG brings – a nice library, good quality, sturdy streaming, the ability to download and play stuff later – they are way behind the times with regard to design.

The saddest part, much like the current TV streaming, is that MOG just might be the best around. From what I’ve seen of the other services, they’re just as bad, maybe worse, and that just isn’t going to cut it for a service I will use every single day.


My experience with subscription music services

MOG logo.I constantly struggle to find new music. Yes, there are a million resources out there – blogs, fan sites, news and reviews, venues, torrents, etc. etc. – but there’s so much music in the world that a lot of it ends up sounding the same, and I don’t want something that always sounds the same.

I decided I was going to try a streaming service for the sheer amount of music available. Pandora isn’t on-demand so that was out. I gave Rdio a shot because it was free and had just launched but their selection was woefully slim (they were missing big names like The Arcade Fire among some lesser stuff I was hoping for). From there I turned to MOG and I’ve been fairly impressed. Their selection is good, the iPhone app is passable, as is their web-based player, but I don’t think I’ve discovered all that much.

MOG does have a feature on the web player that allows you to broaden your horizons by including similar artists to the one at the top of your playlist, but it’s just not diverse. It’s the same thing with Pandora. What I want is some sort of discovery mode, where the player throws a wide selection of stuff at you, based not just on the music you’re listening to, but what other people interested in that selection listen to. I would love if it there was even some sort of blacklist feature so that you wouldn’t get the same old mix.

As a for instance, I’m listening to The Hold Steady right now. The similar artist list is about what you’d expect – Modest Mouse, A.C. Newman, Spoon, White Rabbits – all bands that someone listening to The Hold Steady would probably say, “Hey, you’d like these guys, too.” I don’t need that kind of guarantee, though. I want to hear a mix of stuff I might not like and might like and might be surprised I like, and I haven’t found a music service that provides that.

I probably won’t renew my MOG subscription beyond a month because I’m not getting a whole lot more from it than I can get from a Pandora. The on-demand is nice, but the web-player is a little clunky, and I have plenty of music to get through on my own.