At the SXSW Interactive festival on Monday, Mog demonstrated tight integration between a cloud-based on-demand music service and a car dashboard. Of course, it’s been possible for years to plug a smartphone into a car stereo and listen that way. The difference here is that you can search for songs, control playback, access playlists, and more, using the car’s controls rather than futzing around with your smartphone as you careen down the highway.
Mog CEO David Hyman pinned the blame for music subscriptions such as Mog, Rhapsody, Spotify, Napster and the rest not taking off with most consumers on the simple fact that 80 percent of music listening happens within the car, where cloud-based music has been a tough proposition.
But thanks to smartphones, apps, high-speed wireless connections, and in-car integration such as what Mog demonstrated today, it’s now possible to stream music to the car seamlessly, as we saw Pandora do in January. Now that Mog has integrated with the BMW Mini, with other cars to follow, the stage is set for music subscriptions to take off on a larger scale.
“We’re thrilled to work with [BMW] Mini to unveil the first ever automotive integration of an on-demand music service,” said Hyman in a statement. “We remain focused on giving people ways to enjoy music wherever they are, and we are jointly designing a MOG user experience specifically for Mini USA that makes it fast and easy for drivers to enjoy unlimited, uninterrupted music and still focus on the road. People listen to music while driving more than anywhere else, so it’s critical for us to offer MOG in the car.”
In addition to the demonstration at the press conference, where Hyman was joined by BMW group technology office director Stephan Durach, Mog will allow SXSW attendees to sit inside a Mog-enabled Mini and witness this first integration of on-demand music and the car. (Pandora, unlike the Mog on-demand music service, is an interactive radio service — a distinction some reports fail to make.)
Of course, there’s one big problem with streaming music to your car over your smartphone, especially at Mog’s high-quality 320 Kbps bit rate. These days, cellphone data plans are limited to a set amount each month. Evolver.fm calculated that under one typical data plan, you’d only be able to stream to about an hour of music per day — and that’s assuming you use your smartphone for nothing else. (Pandore uses a much lower bit rate, allowing for more listening.)
However, Mog has an solution to that problem. Its $10/month mobile-plus-web subscription allows users to download an unlimited number of songs directly to their phones, and they can do so via WiFi. So if you’re a heavy driver who wants to listen daily, you can load up your iPhone or Android with a bunch of music at home before hitting the road.
Hyman also touted other advances, including billing integration with cellphone carriers such as Verizon so that fans can subscribe to Mog as a feature within their cellphone plan; bundling on the Verizon 4G Android; and the Mog Music Network, a network of music blogs with 39 million monthly unique visitors, making it the third-most-popular network behind Vevo and MTV, and the most-trafficked music network with 1.9 billion pageviews per month. The company plans to integrate Mog into those blogs as well, giving them a way to embed free, legal music previews or full-track playback for readers who subscribe.