MOG, the latest entrant into the increasingly competitive world of cloud-based mobile music services, has a combination of features, including unlimited, high-quality downloads from its impressively stocked 8 million song library, that make its $10/mo. subscription a compelling option.
There's a certain comfort to all-you-can-eat situations—knowing that if you decide to binge, you can do so—and MOG Mobile is the first to truly bring this freedom to cloud-based music, letting users of the $10/mo. service not only stream songs over 3G and Wi-Fi, but download them—as many as they want, from any artist or album—in standard 64 kbps compressed files or high quality 320 kbps ones. And it is a great feeling.
Like Rhapsody and Rdio, MOG has a huge library of music which you can sift through on your phone or computer, jamming to full albums, creating playlists, or, in MOG's case, diving into single-artist radio stations. In my use, MOG's 8 million song library rarely disappointed—for comparison, Rhapsody boasts 10 million—and using MOG's Mobile Music app, I queued up official releases, like Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle, and not-as-official ones, like Gucci Mane's Mr. Zone 6 mixtape with equal ease.
I found nearly everything I searched for in between, too, though the search optimization wasn't perfect—looking for The-Dream's new album Love King, I was offered Love and Pride by King, Kings of Love, Evil Love by King Daddy, God of Love by The Kingpin, and many others but none of which I was looking for. I did manage to find The-Dream's album in the "new releases" section, though, and when I did, streaming over 3G with the default 64 kbps setting was instantaneous and, despite the compression, sounded quite good.
But MOG differs from those competitors in paying the flat monthly fee lets users download those songs without restriction—as many of them as desired, whichever ones are desired—directly to your smart phone, directly from your smart phone, for playback, say, on an airplane or underground bunker (tough to think of places without Wi-Fi or 3G these days, huh?). You can grab a single song or yank a full album to your device for later listening with one tap (though of course these disappear when you stop paying the monthly fee). This is a big move for MOG; Rhapsody currently only lets users download playlists curated on the computer, and Rdio's buffet download service is still in its invite-only phase. So this is a huge selling point for MOG, and the downloads, in my experience, were snappy and painless.
Tight integration with MOG.com means that you can make playlists on the site that show up on your phone automatically, but you could easily get by without ever going to the website if you were so inclined. Downloading all this stuff straight to your mobile device from your mobile device is a joy, and a smart similar-artist slider lets you discover new music you might right on your phone (in addition to the MOG.com site). MOG's also offers daily recommended albums and radio hits, featured playlists ("summer smoochies"; "who's to blame for emo") and top-played popularity charts.
Another clever feature unique to MOG is its flexible radio stations that can be customized by song. You can pick and play an artist-only radio station—Animal Collective radio, say, is only Animal Collective—and it will populate your music queue with the songs from that station, which than can be browsed, skipped, replayed, or downloaded to your library, just like music you would've searched for. This is a brilliant way to do things—it keeps the playback experience streamlined into one place in the app, and it's just nice to be able to add and remove tracks from the radio station's playlist at will.
MOG Mobile Music launches today on iPhones, iPod Touches and Android devices, and a $10 a month subscription can go a long way to helping you forget about iTunes and syncing music over USB. MOG's iPhone app isn't optimized for background audio or fast-app switching yet, which is a bummer, but the company promises that update's coming in a few weeks. The apps, while perhaps not quite as visually polished as some of the more established ones like Rhapsody, are solid and full featured right out the gate. With cloud-based music services from Google and Apple seeming increasingly inevitable, ones like MOG have to offer some compelling features to grab users in the here and now: all I can eat, right to my phone, is definitely enough to get me interested. [MOG, Mog in iTunes]