• Music Subscription Services - MOG vs. Rdio vs. JB Hi-Fi vs. Spotify vs. Deezer

    When the idea of a subscription music service first appeared, I was totally for it. No more maintaining a 150GB+ (and growing) iTunes library of music I may or may not listen to! Plus it's all legal, my concience can be cleared because the artists (well, the labels really) agreed to it and at least someone is making money.

    My inital toe dipping a few years ago into services like Napster and Microsoft's Zune/Xbox market were extremley lacklustre. Overseas services that didn't suck, like Spotify and Rdio blocked Australians. But in the past year, something must have changed, as there's now a raft of subscription music services available here in Australia: MOG, Rdio, Spotify, JB Hi-Fi Now and Deezer.

    Price-wise, they're almost all the same. All have mobile apps for iOS that work fine as well. The main determining factor, for me, is the music collection available to listen to. Nice discovery features are handy too. My criteria for a music service is if it has all of my top 10 favourite albums:
    • Radiohead - OK Computer
    • Blur - 13
    • Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
    • The White Stripes - Elephant
    • The Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
    • Queens of the Stone Age - Queens of the Stone Age
    • Deftones - White Pony
    • Soulwax - Any Minute Now
    • The Avalanches - Since I Left You
    • Dr Dre - The Chronic

    The more albums on this list a service has, the more likely it's going to have other stuff I want, right? Let's take a look at each of the five services and see how they stack up:

    MOG ($11.99/month)

    • Can't sign up in the app! Need to visit the website to register.
    • Ability to add MOG service charges to your Telstra bill, which is nice.
    • I could not get MOG to work on my iPod touch, despite it being on the device list.
    • Data not counted on Telstra, even over 3G.
    • Has all my favourite albums except Soulwax's Any Minute Now & Dr. Dre's The Chronic.
    • The favourites feature is laid out just how I like it, with seperate favourites for songs, albums & artists.

    RDIO ($12.90/month)

    • Only a 7 day trial vs 14 days or 1 month with everyone else.
    • Very easy sign up. Can do it on the device too.
    • Great UI, the snappiest and easies to navigate.
    • Doesn't have Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Deftone's White Pony, Dr. Dre's The Chronic and the Queens of the Stone Age album has no cover art.

    SPOTIFY ($11.99/month)

    • Requires Facebook to make an account. I have no issue with it, but some people do.
    • Excellent publically shared playlists. There's so many playlists out there, curated by music nerds. This is my favourite thing about Spotify.
    • Doesn't have Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Deftone's White Pony, Dr. Dre's The Chronic.
    • The track based radio feature is cool - I've found some good songs via it.

    JB HI-FI NOW ($10/m - $8.25/m for 12 months)

    • Can't sign up in app. Need a mobile phone to register as it sends a PIN to you via SMS.
    • Excellent selection of Australian music - from my anecdotal searching, there's a lot more singles & EPs from Australian bands than on other services.
    • Too many variations of the same album. Take
    • The queuing and favouriting system is quite confusing. It's perhaps more versatile, but I much prefer how MOG does it.
    • Doesn't have Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot & Dr.Dre - The Chronic

    DEEZER ($11.99/month)

    • Requires Facebook
    • Snappy interface, works much like Rdio
    • Doesn't have Queens of the Stone Age - Queens of the Stone Age, Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot & Dr Dre - The Chronic
    • Just started here in Australia, so it's catalog is a little thin compared to the other players.

    After using each service for a few days as a trial, MOG, surprisingly, has an excellent selection of music and combined with it's no nonsense interface and Telstra unmetered data, it's very compelling. JB Hi-Fi Now is quite cheap and has a great selection of lesser known Australian bands. The JB interface however is a little clunky and slow. Spotify is the 800-pount gorilla, provides excellent shared playlists and discovery options, plus has a great desktop app to go with their mobile one, where as JB and MOG just have web interfaces.

    It's difficult to pick a clear winner and say "go with (x), they're the best" - each service seems to have it's own pros and cons. I can't see any reason to recommend Rdio or Deezer, so cross those two off your list and take advantage of the trials MOG, Spotify and JB Hi-Fi Now have.
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