Wow. I’ve seen product launch failures but I personally haven’t been on the customer side all that much. I’m usually reading about it as a passive observer or analyzing business reports talking about what not to do. Let me tell ya, Beats Music is on target to make a great case study for Harvard Business Review on what not to do during a product launch. Especially in today’s age of “sell or beware” where the online community can turn your once great idea into a pile of rubbish in a matter of a few days.
My MOG History
Let me first start by discussing my background with the soon to be gone MOG Music Network. A few years back I received an invitation to be a contributor to the MOG network where hip2besquare.net would become a featured blog within their aggregate of music news. They soon came out with a desktop music streaming service and all us official MOG bloggers received access for free to try and report back on how the service was going. At first it was a little buggy but that is to be expected and hey, I was given access for free so hard to really complain.
MOG doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Spotify where you have tastemakers such as Pitchfork or Rolling Stone providing curated playlists and apps but for someone who is a serious music listener, all you really need is access to a wide library of music. I could make playlists, easily add whole albums to my phone as temporary downloads where I could easily stream when not online. I could favorite my artists, songs, albums so if I wanted to revisit what I liked in the past, it was easy to do so. When I would try the other services, those bells and whistles became more of a distraction then a benefit.
As you may know by now, MOG was gobbled up by Dr. Dre’s company, Beats Audio last year and eventually word came out about a project named Daisy that was going to be the next big streaming service on the market competing with the likes of Rdio and Spotify. I have to admit, at first I was excited about this new player, especially since I had been such a loyal Mogger, I was hopeful that the MOG team was going to be able to give a shot of adrenaline to the MOG platform. As mentioned earlier, MOG didn’t have all the bells and whistles of the other platforms but I wouldn’t have mind if they decided to amp up the platform to include such value ads.
But as we neared closer to the launch of what eventually became known as Beats Music, not a word was sent out to MOG subscribers. Not even this hear legacy account holder. It wasn’t until this week, Feb 21st, their official launch date, that I heard anything from the folks at Beats about the new product and how it may impact my MOG subscription. I’m sorry, I did hear one thing. They let me claim my user name – @lukeowen. Yippee!
Beats Music Launch Failures
Was I a bit jaded that I wasn’t given early access to Beats Music much like I did with the MOG player? A little but I quickly brushed off those sentiments and jumped on the opportunity to delve into the new platform on launch day (2/21). And here’s where it all went down hill. I’ll list a few of the problems I experienced.
1. I sent a message to Beats support asking if my legacy status would be carried over to a Beats account. As of this post I still haven’t received a reply from support. Even if they aren’t sure how they will handle such accounts, they could at least acknowledge that they are still working out the details. Although that would seem a bit foolish to not have considered MOG subscribers and how they would be handled account wise before the launch. At least one would think.
2. I go and sign in and looks like I have a 7 day free trial. 7 days? Ok, any who. Lets give this puppy a spin. After choosing a few artists and genres that I like, they spit out some suggestions to me on the Just For You section. Nothing too crazy. I figure it must be one of those things that I just need to start listening and favoriting, disliking and listening to other music for it to start giving more deeper suggestions. Still waiting for that to happen.
3. I then go to the mobile app. On my commute home I try streaming and that pretty much cut short after a couple of songs. My service is great as I live in a city (Boston) and MOG would never cut out so I knew they must be having server issues. Later we would see confirmation from the CEO, Ian, that they were having issues and they tried making up for by saying they were not letting any more folks sign up and for those who already did they were going to extend our trials. Yippee. I get to continue using your broken service for a longer period of time.
4. I have Sonos so I added it to my music services. Tried playing it and got “can’t connect to the Beats Music servers at this time”. Fail.
5. I tried creating a playlist through their website app. Go ahead, I dare you to try and figure that one out much like this other user tried to do.
6. I tried logging on to the web app at work the next day and hit 404 error messages in every location where there was a “login” button.
7. I tweeted out to Beats to let them know of some of the issues I was hitting. Still to the writing of this post I haven’t received a tweet back.
8. Can I transfer my favorites, playlists and such over from MOG? We are told that this is coming. Again, why launch without an easy process for MOG subscribers to make the move at time of launch? It’s not like you are taking away our service or anything.
9. No Chrome plugin?
10. Login issues on Sunday (26th). A key day for music listening.
Where to go from here
We could go on but you get the point. It’s one thing to launch with issues but how you handle and address these issues as well as prepare can make or break your company. The question now is do we continue giving Beats Music a shot after all of these issues. Honestly, this is a telling sign of what to expect in the future. I have only been able to give a limited amount of time to using Beats due to all the launch issues so part of me wants to keep giving it a shot. But if they require that I buy after this 7 day trial is up, the decision becomes pretty easy. Move officially to Spotify, Rdio or Google Music.
Out of the the three above, I would lean towards either Spotify or Google Music. Spotify is probably in the lead primarily due to the large network of users, many of whom are my close friends. I do find the social aspect of their platform to be a big plus. Google would be second since I have most of my music library uploaded into their cloud. But when I first tried their service I had issues with the songs I added from their library overlapping with my library and causing problems with tracklistings. I have yet to give Rdio a spin but many of the product developers at my place of work use this service and I trust their judgement when it comes to software so will have to give Rdio a try as well.
For those wondering, here is what I use to consume music:
1. Streaming app for listening to both new and old music – currently a Mogger and will be till the bitter end (4/15/14)
2. Amazon for storing my MP3s and for purchasing new music I have deemed worthy of lifetime ownership.
3. Vinyl record player. Lately I’ve been focused on growing my collection with new artists and due to high cost of this item, it’s only the best of the best that make it here.
5. Sonos is used for at home music streaming
If you are a current, soon to be former Mogger, are you going to switch over to being a Beats Music user or have you thrown up your hands as well? If so, have you decided on a new service? Let us know in the comments.