In its plan to connect every single person in the world, Facebook drew attention last September when the network announced it would upgrade to a new and improved timeline structure, and subsequently release a series of “frictionless apps,” to enhance overall sharing experience for its club of 800 million. These specialized apps are hybrid tools created specifically for your profile page, enabling unique ways of exposing even more about yourself. From what you eat, where you travel, what you listen to, and where you shop, Facebook has invented an efficient way to broadcast everything to your personal globe, so that at any given moment, you can be tracked. Now that the company maintains no privacy, apparently the rest of us must follow suit.

App of the Week: MOG

In honor of the mass expose, I will be testing out these various new apps in a weekly column. As I typically reveal as little about myself on Facebook as possible -- an attempt to come off mysterious -- I'm a tad apprehensive of the amplified presence, but committing wholeheartedly to the effort.

This week, I experimented with MOG, a music app that consolidates the functions of a radio network like Pandora with a subscription-based streaming platform such as Rhapsody. The app is free up to a certain extent, measured by a “gas tank” of listening fuel on the main page, then priced at US$ 4.99/month for basic use on a computer, and US$ 9.99/month for unlimited use on both computer and mobile devices.

By creating playlists, sharing songs and recommending music to friends however, you can earn enough points to continuously refill the tank. Thus, I never ended up running short after even five hours of solid use. Such clever marketing tactics encouraged my constant social plugging, and likely drew attention to my followers (be they ever so few). Furthermore, after one friend “liked” a track I shared, my interest piqued and I became markedly more active.

MOG Screenshot

The Gist

MOG works relatively simply. By searching artists, songs or album titles, a user can listen to specific tracks or entire albums as they please. You can shuffle tracks in one giant forum, or you can hand-select them for various playlists as you might on iTunes. Additionally, you can create a radio station geared around your selection, á la Pandora, to play music by that artist along with others of a comparable nature. Unlike the online radio platform, MOG also lets you skip as many songs as you want, and you can see what’s coming up in the queue. On that note, it would’ve been nice to delete songs from my queue, as Annie Lennox continued to surface and I’m not a fan, however such a function was not available.

Here’s where the integration with Facebook became burdensome because, vain as it sounds, I’d rather not have evidence of Lennox on my wall, and it was frustrating to have to constantly delete her posts. While you do have the option not to share your selections, you will soon run out of gas. Plus, doesn’t that defeat the purpose anyhow?

Here are some aspects I liked about MOG:

  • Music was easy to find, easy to manage, and the player functioned fluidly.
  • I liked the way songs were consolidated into one box on my timeline, so as not to clutter the surface. Also, I was able to select standout material, which appeared separately from the daily inventory.
  • For most artists, the app provided a spectrum scale, where I could view a range of similar musicians, delineated by how close or far they measured up to my choice. The comparisons didn’t always quite match (I would never put Young Jeezy in the same class as Biggie Smalls), but nevertheless, it was informative.
  • The main page featured new releases and editor’s picks, allowing me to sample emerging acts like Lana Del Rey, who I’d been hearing about and wanted to sample.
  • I could play music directly from my Facebook page. This would come in handy, say, if I was on another computer and wanted to quickly access a song. Rather than going to the main hub or searching online, I could simply pull it up my profile.

Here are some issues I had with MOG:

  • There were no links to purchase music with songs. According to the company blog, they provide access when available, however I never saw any and I'm certain you can buy Neil Young and others on iTunes. While MOG allows for downloads on its mobile platform, these are not transferrable. I stumbled upon several tracks I would have bought , so found this oversight frustrating. From a business standpoint, of course, this would be a much-desirable feature to drive revenue. Artists are already hesitant to participate in these platforms, why not give them a reason?
  • It wasn’t always clear when I’d successfully posted a song to my Facebook profile, causing me to inadvertently repeat myself (how embarrassing!). Of course, as I was closely monitoring my progress, I was able to delete duplicates almost immediately.

The Verdict

Without providing free mobile access, MOG certainly has made a substantial move in its push for paid subscribers. Depending on my other options, I would likely be willing to shell out the cash. For the music business, the debate lingers on as to whether these subscription-based services will ever supplant traditional sales models, as rights-holders continue to battle digital innovators in Washington.

Conversely, MOG bestows a tremendous discovery tool for new artists and music fans alike. I’m a perfect example of the results, as though I regularly follow countless industry blogs, I discovered five new acts in a few hours, all of which I would have purchased music from had the option been available. The marketing potential is therefore immense.

Overall, I'd give MOG a B. For the most part, the user experience was enjoyable, though it's missing out on a couple key business incentives and not quite fully maximizing on social connectivity and music generation. I'll probably listen to it a few more days, then I'll go to Spotify.