Spotify is currently the most used music subscription right now, but there are plenty of others that offer practically the same service, but with a bit of variation. One of those “others” is MOG, which actually shares a lot of characteristics with Spotify, like their price plan. Read more about how the two vary below and see which is better for your musical spirit (and wallet).

Background

MOG allows you to search for music you love and discover new tunes and is pretty much like any other music streaming service out there. MOG was founded by David Hyman, former CEO of Gracenote, former SVP of Marketing at MTV Interactive, and former Director of Ad Sales for Addicted to Noise. Besides being a music subscription service, it’s also a blog network. Spotify is supposed to be thought of as “your new music collection, with a vast collection of  millions of tracks and counting. It’s has been since 2008 and first started in Europe but is available practically everywhere.

Compatible Devices

Spotify works with Android, iOS devices, Android, PC, and numerous home devices that include, Boxee, Sonos, Logitech’s Squeezebox Touch or Radio, Onkyo home cinema receivers, WD TV Live or WD TV Live Hub media player, TeliaSonera digital TV and Philips Streamium Wireless Hi-Fi component systems.

MOG works with all iOS devices (and includes an iPad app), Android devices, and some wireless connected devices like GoGear by Phillips and Jambox. MOG also runs on all Android tablets, including Toshiba, Motorola Xoom, Phillips and Nook by Barnes & Noble. For computers, expect the usual Mac and PC, but they also offer in-car services and have MOG integration in a variety of makes and models like Ford, MINI Cooper, BMW, select JV multimedia in-car navigations devices and are working on adding more. But no matter your ride, you can listen to MOG on your car stereo via Bluetooth, an Aux Jack or a Cassette Adapter. It also works with Roku, Boxee Box and Sonos devices.

Winner: Spotify works with more devices, but that car integration MOG has is pretty cool!

Computer Application

Spotify is all grey and sort of dull. The audio controls are at the bottom of the desktop app, with the search bar on top and category lists on the left hand side similar to that of iTunes. Actually, a lot of it works similar to iTunes, with local tracks are can be sorted alphabetically by artist, song, or album. You can scroll through your local tracks or search for something using the bar at the top. The homepage of Spotify shows you “What’s New,” which is also the first category to the left.

That left-side control panel is actually where all the action happens and is sort of cluttered with small fonts so you really have to look closely to find what you want. There you’ll find new releases, trending playlists, apps you can install, your collection and any playlists you made or subscribed to. . To the far right is the Twitter-like feed of what your friends have been listening to. As far as your local library, Spotify will scan it all and mix it into the songs within the service, allowing you to hear songs from both libraries. Overall, its searches are pretty fast with music streaming as soon as you click on a song you want to here. It doesn’t have a recommendation engine, but there is still info on related artists on actual artist pages that also include tabs like Overview, Bio and more. What’s big right now on Spotify is the Apps section that you can add to your category list to help enhance your music listening experience.

Like Spotify, MOG has a grey color scheme and is actually designed a bit like Spotify. All your musical goods are to the left like Playlists, Favorites, Play Queue, Brose and more, while the middle features music you might like, Editor’s picks, top charts and Inspired by Friends tracks. Unlike Spotify, the music player is on the top instead of the bottom. The font is bigger than that of Spotify, which makes it easier to see what you’re doing, making them more intuitive than Spotify’s. It’s also less cluttered than Spotify’s left side control center. When searching an artist, tabs show, like Artist, Albums, Tracks and Playlists, meaning you can search for music a variety of ways and you’ll always been given those four tab options. It’s cool to see that they offer playlists that include the songs/artists that you’re looking for, which is a great way to find new music.

MOG doesn’t mix your own music library with their content like Spotify, which means less duplicates of songs, but can also be a restriction if you have something that they don’t have (given license issues). But it does have a cool radio function, with a slider where you can choose anything from Pandora-like mixes of related artists and songs or choose to only have all songs on the radio by that one particular artist you’re asking for.

Both services offer free trials for those wanting to test out its paid services, as well as offer a free desktop version with limitations.

Winner: Spotify provides a more immersive experience in my opinion. Those extra apps are cool and allow you to discover more/new music and you can easily see what others are listening to, which can be a fun way to see what your friends like or find new tunes.

Mobile Application

Spotify has recently launched their iPad app, which includes Retina graphics and has a just an ok user interface right now, unlike it’s mobile app, which features tons of functionality. Spotify’s mobile app is a lot similar to its desktop one, but without the extra apps. Searches can take some time, while more than one device can access the mobile account with a premium subscription, but only one device can be online at the same time. But if you go offline, all devices can use it at once. The mobile app doesn’t have the related artist tab or many of the tabs found on the desktop version, which can make discovery a bit frustrating for some, but it’s not BIG of a deal, really. Going from track to track is pretty easy and its best asset is that it syncs tracks you already own even if they’re not available in Spotify’s streaming service so playlists will remain the same no matter what. It does take a while for it to load all your playlists, though, which can be a bummer. But the What’s New tab is pretty cool since it shows you new tunes, etc., while the adio tab lets you search via genre or create a new station by artist and choose all their tracks, album/playlists that include them and artist (if they’re more than one with the same name). The process for downloading songs you want to hear offline is pretty easy. Just long-press on anything in your playlists, and pick Available Offline. The tracks will sync when you’re on Wi-Fi by default, but you can allow 3G as well. Like with the streaming playback, you can go into the settings and choose the bitrate you want to download, but it tops out at 160kbps. Streaming music is pretty fast with little wait time.

MOG’s app is actually darker than Spotify’s, given it’s black, with red buttons that really contrast the dark color. Sometimes it can get bland and might be sore on the eyes. And the controls aren’t that intuitive when compared to Spotify’s app. It opens to a very minimalist screen with big Search and Browse options at the top. Below that are Charts, New Releases, Favorites, and My Downloads. It does feature a lot of lists and recommendations so you can find new tunes, especially the public playlists that are mixes with artists/songs you search for (similar to Spotify’s). What it does feature that Spotify doesn’t is a home button that allows you to get to the main screen that Spotify doesn’t have. MOG’s streaming and playback is a bit longer, like 3 seconds over Wi-Fi and a bit more with 3G. Another small annoyance is when a track hangs while buffering for a while, which can be bothersome when it does happen. You can also choose to stream in higher high or low quality, with the highest being 320kbps, and lowest 128kbps. To download tracks to your device, just press download instead of the long press menus in Spotify.

Winner: MOG’s app layout is too dark for my liking and Spotify’s mobile app is simple and to the point and allows you to carry your own iTunes library in its vast cloud!

Sound Quality

Spotify says that they have 99% of their tracks that can stream at 320kbps, and that bitrate is available to all premium users on all platforms, including mobile. But their mobile plays at 160kbps, with the option to play at a lower bandwidth of 96kbps. But usually that other 1% streams at 160kbps as the norm. MOG, however, is an audiophile’s dream streaming service since its offers streaming at up to 320kbps all the time.

Winner: MOG provides CD quality streaming.

Social Capabilities

Spotify actually has a great social tool in that it’s build right into Facebook, which used by many. You can also share your favorite playlists via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. The Twitter-like feed on the side of the desktop application is great to see what friends are listening to. MOG also incorporates social aspects and works with Facebook and allows you to share what you’re listening to or what you like to your social networks.

Winner: Tie, since both allow you to share your musical preferences with your friends online.

Catalogue

Both have deals with the major record labels and distributors so they get most of the big releases and most up-to-date songs. Spotify says they have 16 million songs, adding about 10,000 new tracks every day. Actually they say “millions and millions of tracks and albums,” that it’s so big that it would take you more than “80 years of non-stop listening” to get through it they say. Their site also says they have licenses with the likes of Universal Music Group, Sony Music, Warner Music and EMI, just to name a few.  MOG also says they have 15 million songs, with deals from the likes of Sony Music and Universal Music Group (also it helps a bit that famed music producer Rick Rubin is a member of MOG’s board of directors).

Winner: Tie, both have a pretty extensive library that provides something for everyone.

Membership Perks

Spotify also integrates easily with iTunes and has this cool way of differentiating between full albums, singles, and albums the artist “appears on.” It also now provides free radio for iPhone users who don’t have the premium subscription, which is quite nice since you can still listen to artists you like and find similar new artists that might appeal to your musical tastes. But it only allows five skips before you have to suck it up and listen to the tune and it has sporadic apps like the free version. You can dislike a tune and it won’t go against your skip and it won’t play again. MOG’s radio player acts more like Pandora while Spotify’s computer app one is more like a steaming mix (some stations aren’t that robust, wither). And MOG does offer the best streaming quality, and offers unique in-car integration. Spotify’s apps also provide a  more immerse listening experience tailored to your specifications (but this is again only for computer app).

Winner: Spotify provides cool apps

Limitations

The desktop app for MOG doesn’t work with Flash Version 11.3 and recommends you downgrade to a previous version until Adobe releases an update to fix the problems with audio playback, so that might bother some. Spotify has duplicate search results which can be bothersome and their radio on the computer app is sometimes limited to a number of songs, which doesn’t provide that much of a music discovery. For MOG’s free version, it has this Free Music Bar that shows how much free music you have left, and you have to earn more tunes by either referring friends or exploring MOG and its site, so the more you explore, the more free music you earn…which is all pretty weird, actually. Oh, and sorry Android users, that free radio is only available to iOS users.

Winner: Tie, both have their drawbacks

Pricing

Both offer the same pricing structure actually. Both pricing structures are broken down into two tiers: $4.99/month for Unlimited, which includes add-free listening on your computer only and then there’s a $9.99/month for their Premium service, which includes ad-free listening, mobile app accessibility on one device at a time.

Winner: Tie

Overall Winner

Spotify still provides a better musical experience for being the same price as MOG. Plus, practically everyone’s on it so it’s easier to share tunes with your friends on Facebook and they’ve really improved on a lot of things, especially with their apps and now free mobile radio for iOS users (being a bit biased here since I’ve switched over from being a Droid head to an iPhone lover!).



Kristie Bertucci

 
Kristie Bertucci is an L.A.-based writer, who can't live without her MacBook Pro. When she's not writing, she's either reading or shopping (online, of course) and loves lazy days so she can catch up on her DVR-recorded shows and movies. She's definitely a Mac girl, she loves music and is currently on a mission to to have an insane and enviable iTunes library.