MOG began as a music blog but is now a full-fledged online music service. The blog moved to mogmusicnetwork.com, and it augments the subscription service with lots of interesting news, feature articles, reviews, and more. Like Rdio and Zune, MOG includes a social component, though it's still in its early stages. MOG Basic (web streaming only, available on all computers and Roku devices) costs $4.99, while MOG Primo (which adds mobile support and downloads) is $9.99 per month.
MOG's search engine is the centerpiece of the service, with a "Fast Search" feature that not only returns results as you type (like Slacker and Rhapsody) but lets you view and play albums, tracks, and artist radio stations, as well as add items to your queue directly from the search results that pop up. The 9 million-plus song catalog has excellent depth, and the search box functions as an easy-to-use music discovery system.
One of MOG's best features pops up with the desktop player: A slider underneath the Now Playing info lets you adjust how much of a particular artist you want to hear in any artist station, which is automatically created when you choose a track to play. For example, you can listen only to Chet Baker, Chet plus a few others, or mostly other artists similar to Chet. (The company calls this feature "MOG Mobius".) You can also edit the queue right in the player via simple drag and drop.
Click to enlargeThe mobile app (currently available for iPhone and Android) could use a less crowded control layout, but overall the interface is easy to find your way around. Unfortunately, the mobile apps have no social component at all--you can't see anything about anyone in your network. We're also disappointed by the lack of integration between the desktop and mobile services: Playlists and favorites are synced, but history and queue are not.
We like that the mobile app allows users to download subscription tracks to their phones in 64Kbps AAC+ (normal) or 320Kbps MP3 format (for the most part; some are 256Kbps MP3). Streams sound okay at 64Kbps AAC+, though you can easily tell you're listening to compressed music. (Note that AAC+ is currently broken on Android 2.2--the Android app is streaming in 128Kbps MP3, until the issue is fixed by Google.)
MOG makes it easy to search its extensive catalog and browse playlists created by users, editorial staff, and artists, as well as MOG's charts (though this appears to be just from MOG listener habits). Playlists are the only way you can find other users to follow, which is a little cumbersome compared with Rdio's more Facebook-like social interface, and you can't search for people you might know on the service or share playlists and songs.
One of the highlights of MOG is its editorial content; it's produced in-house and mixes up music news, feature articles, and album reviews. The content, however, is separate from the music site; while this stuff is compelling, we wish it were more integrated into the music service like it is on Rhapsody. (At press time, MOG said the mobile app will be updated to include bios, album reviews, and playlist details in or around February 2011.)
MOG is a decent value and will only get better as the company figures out how to integrate the music, social, mobile, and editorial components.