Goodbye MOG, hello…well, not just yet Beats Music

mog beats music failure

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.

Enter Beats

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.

4. Random apps (Daytrotter, Concert Vault, Hypem.com)

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.

  • agawam

    First blog I’ve found that’s captured my feelings about the Beats takeover of MOG – because it’s written by an actual user instead of a business analyst.

    As an actual multi-year MOG subscriber, I’m completely underwhelmed by the non-outreach from this new Beats team. Read about the change on a tech blog before they told me. Their “free” 7-day trial started automatically while I was out of the country on vacation and couldn’t even receive it…

    Everything Beats is doing seems based on a completely different demographic – the overhyped style-over-quality Beats headphone brand, the mainstream advertising blast, the hiphop orientation of their suggestions (when they’ve got years of listening data on me!), and even the choice of AT&T as their wireless partner: Beats is the anti-me!

    So I’m packing my audio bags and moving to Google Play. I was immediately pleasantly surprised by their 30-day free trial. The streaming audio quality is decent at 320, the upload tool is fantastic, and I’m discovering the library of artists is very deep and compatible with my weird old tastes (Joe Zawinul, Area Code 615, Sarah Jarosz, The Roches, Mission of Burma, XTC, AL Green). There’s plenty to listen to.

    Goodbye Beats, it ain’t been nice to know you…

  • http://hip2besquare.net Kip

    It’s amazing that they have yet to even send any further updates to MOG users. I don’t know what the numbers are in terms of MOG users but I’m sure it’s a decent amount where if they handled the transition with care, they could have retained a lot more then what I can only imagine they lost with this whole experience. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  • Loren Amelang

    Another longtime MOGger here. I only listen on my home audio system, never mobile. $5/mo. from MOG. Beats requires mobile! And $10/mo. You can’t sign up without mobile. Not only that, you can’t sign up without Android 4 (or iOS). My trusty Android 2.3.5 won’t even show me the Beats app in the Play Store. Of course they don’t tell you this anywhere, I only learned the secret via blog comments. I don’t even know anyone with Android 4, so I drove to the cellphone store. Manually typed my ultra-secure and unfriendly password over and over, held down the delete long-press on all but two of their genres, and each time they said my sign up failed due to poor connectivity. I’m in the freaking phone store, with maximum bars! Total FAIL!

    My only question at this point is how can I capture the playlist data I’ve built up on MOG, so I can at least know what to look for on some new service? There used to be an actual web page player where you could view source and copy the listings. Now I only find their “web app” which won’t let me do that. Surely someone has hacked their playlist data…

  • http://hip2besquare.net/ Luke “Kip” Owen

    Good question about capturing the playlist info. If you find a way, would love to know.

  • http://hip2besquare.net/ Luke “Kip” Owen

    Just a quick update on my review of other apps, what ended up being a key factor for me is the buffering between songs and having the ability to experience seamless playback. Spotify was really the only one that I tried out that had this experience. I was close to Rdio because man, their interface is really slick. If they could just get their gapless playback to be as good as Spotify, I would definitely go with Rdio.

  • Loren Amelang

    You can save your playlists in the open-source XSPF: XML Shareable Playlist Format:

    This format works for the XSPF converter:
    https://mog.com/playlists/3244457

    The format used in the MOG address bar does not:
    https://mog.com/m#playlist/3244457

    Go to:
    http://app.globalplaylist.com/

    Enter a URL in the above format

    Select Format: Direct Download

    (Or Select Format: Tomahawk if you have the Tomahawk app installed and want the playlist installed there.)

    Click Get XSPF

    Save the XSPF file

    Beats is signed up with Bop.fm, so maybe they will eventually connect with XSPF and Tomahawk as well. If not, at least you’ll have all your playlist data in an open-source format!

    There is additional data in a MOG playlist, which you can see by going to the web player rather than the “web app” player (use the first “works” format above, not the “m#” format). Then right click a playlist item and use your browser’s “DevTools” “Inspect Element” function… Not sure the additional stuff is really useful, the XSPF gets the essentials.

  • Loren Amelang

    I finally got my free trial of Beats. Borrowed Android 4, but their “onboarding” failed repeatedly Emailed them, they said call. Called them, their WiFi was down and even their support crew can only “onboard” someone via mobile. Several days later one call finally worked. So…

    No playlist import. No playlists at all in the web version, unless you create them via mobile! It sounds “enhanced”. Harsh treble, and a big hole in the middle of the soundfield with the missing audio splattered all over the periphery. I haven’t heard Rdio yet, but everything I read says it sounds bad, and it is 192K max. Last time I tried, the paid Spotify sounded almost as good as MOG, but not quite (free Spotify is seriously bandwidth limited). I put up with MOG’s other limits for the better audio quality. Beats definitely is not the replacement.

  • Lou

    I have been using MOG for several years. Beats library does not have the selection that the current MOG library has so I will not be a subscriber. No Artist Radio or Similar artist Radio which I enjoyed and it was easy as it should be. Some of my favorite albums are also missing and please give me a call if they merge libraries completely. Music, not marketing matters and all flash no no flesh in the game is a real disappointment. And why is ATT involved? Another corporate undertaking?

  • BlancaP

    Looks like Beats Music is following in the path of their awful overpriced headphones. All hype and no substance. If they ever give us MOG users the free trial I’ll try it, but Spotify looks the better choice.

  • http://hip2besquare.net/ Luke “Kip” Owen

    Beats made some updates recently http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/18/beats-music-android-and-ios-updates/. But still seems too little too late for me. Been enjoying Spotify playback, even if the UI is pretty atrocious.