Tag Archives | Streaming Music

MOG Goes Free to Fight Spotify, but With a Twist

If Spotify proved one thing with its U.S. launch, it’s that people will go nuts for free music. So now MOG, one of my favorite paid streaming music services, is getting a free version of its own.

Like Spotify, MOG lets you listen to any song or album you want from a library of about 11 million tracks. But unlike Spotify, MOG’s free service isn’t strictly time-limited. (Spotify users get six months of unrestricted listening, followed by 10 hours per month and five plays per track.) Instead, MOG uses a game-like system that rewards certain actions with more free listening. Refer some friends, get some free time. Recommend a playlist, get more free time. Click on an ad, get more free time.

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Turntable.fm iPhone App? Sounds Good, But…

The Turntable.fm bug hit me hard about a month ago. Suddenly I was wasting hours DJing alongside my friends, hoarding points to upgrade my avatar and building a big database of cool music that I’d never heard before. All the while, my friends and I asked the same question: Where’s the Turntable.fm smartphone app?

Now, TechCrunch reports that a Turntable.fm iPhone app is coming soon, and the site has a handful of screenshots to prove it. (Co-founder Billy Chasen seems to have confirmed the rumor, writing in the comments that “We were saving this as a surprise for [TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference] when I’m on stage.”)

That’s great news, but it also makes me wonder whether the free ride on this very cool music service is coming to an end.

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6 Questions About Spotify’s U.S. Launch

Subscription music service Spotify has announced that it will finally be launching in the United States — at some point. The company, which is known overseas for streaming millions of ad-supported songs on demand at no charge, provided hardly any details on its U.S. plans. Spotify simply confirmed the news and started a sign-up process for invites.

Naturally, that leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Here’s what I’d most like to know about Spotify’s U.S. launch:

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Microsoft’s Skype Buy Creates Conflict for Rdio [Update]

All Things D’s Peter Kafka picked up on an interesting wrinkle in Microsoft’s Skype acquisition: Subscription-based music service Rdio may be in trouble.

Skype has a $6 million investment in Rdio, thanks to some lawsuit madness involving Skype’s founders and several Silicon Valley players. Kafka said he’s “pretty sure” Skype and Rdio were planning to deepen ties and drum up more users for the music service.

But Microsoft has its own music service, Zune Pass, and it seems unlikely that the company will want to manage a competitor. For now, neither Microsoft nor Rdio are commenting. (UPDATE: See the end of the post for Rdio’s statement.)

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A Free Version of MOG is On the Way

As a happy customer, I’ve tried my best to evangelize MOG and other subscription-based music services to friends and family. The conversation is always the same: Millions of songs on-demand? Awesome! $10 per month? Not bad. You can’t keep any of the music after leaving the service? Nevermind.

It’s an idea that takes getting used to, and most people aren’t willing to take the plunge for $10 per month. So I’m not surprised that MOG is working on a freemium business model that it hopes to introduce in a couple of months. Evolver.fm’s Eliot Van Buskirk reports that MOG will give away limited access to its streaming catalog in hopes of roping in more users.

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Google Yanks Grooveshark from Android Market, But Chrome App Remains

Grooveshark became a rare victim of Android Market policy on Tuesday, when Google removed the streaming music app without explanation of which policies were violated.

Unlike other streaming music services, such as Rdio and MOG, Grooveshark doesn’t license the entirety of its library. Songs are uploaded by other users, allowing Grooveshark to undercut the competiton with free web streaming and a $3 per month mobile app. Although Grooveshark has made an arrangement with EMI, a lawsuit against Universal Music Group is underway, and I wouldn’t be surprised if record labels complained. Apple yanked Grooveshark’s iPhone app last July.

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Google Music Search’s Mysterious Disappearing Act

TechCrunch’s Robin Wauters noticed something strange about Google Music Search, a service that debuted with fanfare in October 2009: It no longer exists.

Sure enough, a Google search for Lady Gaga — the requisite artist for all new tech ventures related to music — no longer serves up a box full of streaming songs. A special landing page for the service now re-directs to a general list of search features, with no mention of Google Music Search.

What happened? Google hasn’t said. In fact, this story could be quite old, given that the service vanished without a whisper. But over the last year and a half, the two main music services that powered Google Music Search, Lala and iLike, were acquired and subsequently killed by Apple and MySpace, respectively. R.J. Pittman, one of the main forces behind Google Music Search, now works for Apple. And a TechCrunch commenter who claims to have worked for iLike said adoption was minimal from the very beginning. With the driving forces out of the picture, I’m not surprised to see Google quietly put Music Search down.

Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Music Search’s demise even if the driving forces were still in place. The amount of music available on YouTube — official and otherwise — makes a single-serve streaming service from Google redundant, especially when YouTube results get top priority in search results. And then there’s the rumored Google Music, a store and digital locker that’s supposedly near completion. If that’s true, Google Music Search was approaching obsolescence anyway.

If you’re still dying for streaming music to show up in search results, consider Yahoo and Bing. Both search engines have all the Gaga you could ever want.


MOG Mulls Higher Prices and Other Options as Apple's Subscription Rules Loom

With Apple declaring that subscription-based iOS apps must offer in-app sign-ups and hand over 30 percent of the subscription revenue, streaming music service MOG is considering every option — even a price hike.

MOG costs $10 per month for unlimited mobile access to its on-demand streaming music library, the same price as competitors Rdio, Napster and Rhapsody. After the music labels and publishers get their share, and after MOG pays other fees for things like bandwidth, hosting and reporting of listening data, the company will lose money on every in-app subscription if Apple takes a 30 percent cut.

“We don’t understand why Apple should get more from our business than we get,” MOG’s founder and chief executive David Hyman said in an interview.

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Okay, Everybody Calm Down About Sony and iTunes

I’m seeing a lot of frantic stories in the tech blogosphere today over some comments a Sony executive made about iTunes.

Speaking to The Age, Sony Computer Entertainment Australia Chief Executive Michal Ephraim said his company would like to get away from iTunes, if only it could move to a credible alternative, such as the Sony Music subscription service that’s rolling out now.

But thanks to some eye-catching headlines (including The Age’s own), Ephraim’s remarks got twisted into a threat to abandon the most popular music download service in the world. You need only look at the quotes to see that’s not the case.

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Last.fm: The Free Ride is Over for Smartphones

It’s no secret that streaming music services must pay a licensing premium to offer their libraries on smartphones and other devices, but now it seems that Last.fm’s ad revenue wasn’t enough to pay those bills.

Effective February 15, Last.fm will charge $3 per month for access on iPhones, Android phones and home entertainment devices such as Sonos and Logitech’s Squeezebox. The exceptions are Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which includes Last.fm with a $50 per year Xbox Live subscription, and Windows Phone 7, which will remain free through 2011. Ads will be removed as part of the shake-up.

Last.fm’s website will remain free with advertising in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, but Matthew Hawn, Last.fm’s vice president of product, explained in a blog post that an ad-supported service is simply “not practical” on other devices and in other countries.

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