As I am posting this Wednesday night, music discovery and blogging site Mog is getting a major redesign that combines elements of Last.fm, MySpace and MTV.com. So far the site has only been able to attract about 250,000 visitors a month, mostly hardcore music fans who write about music and upload songs (legally). Some rock musicians have tried it outtoo, like Death Cab For Cutie's Ben Gibbard, the Roots drummer Questlove, and Mike Watt (now with the Stooges). The Mog community, aka Moggers, write about 3,000 music-related posts a week. But the site has been poorly organized and hard to navigate for the casual user.
Founder David Hyman previously
started was CEO of Gracenote
(the music database that iTunes uses to look up the name, artist, and
album of each song on your computer). He came by my office earlier
this week to give me a preview of the new Mog. "Today, Mog is a circle
jerk of music geeks," he admits. (The screenshot at right is Mog 1.0).
The most popular part of the site was something called the Mog-o-sphere—a
river of all the music posts across the entire site written in one of
the 50,000 individual Mog pages on the site. But as Hyman soon
realized, "most people don't have the time to go through 300 posts a
day." That is going away. In it's place will be more fine-tuned
Mog's redesign does a lot of smart things to surface the best music posts, shared MP3 streams, and music videos from YouTube in a way that is customized to your personal music collection. Mog is a place where you can blog about your favorite music and shows you've seen. What makes it cool is that you can upload the song you are talking about into your post, where it is available for others to listen to via streaming. (According to Hyman, this is not considered radio, and thus he doesn't pay any royalties, because you have to click on each song separately to listen to it, whereas online radio is a continuous stream of songs. Only one song upload is allowed per post and each one links to iTunes or Amazon). You can also embed videos from YouTube, where there are a lot of music videos and concert footage.
Now each blog post will be automatically categorized as music news,
a concert review, or an album/song review. If you write a post about
Prince's "Purple Rain," it will also exist on the Prince page, as well
as the "Purple Rain" page.
What really makes Mog special, though, is the "Magic Button." Before the Magic Button can work, you have to download a small myware application called the Mog-o-Matic that indexes the entire music collection on your computer by cross-referencing it to Gracenote (which gives Mog a royalty-free license to its service). Once that is done, it populates your personal page with all the songs in your collection as well as your most recently played songs. And since it knows your actual music-listening habits, it links you to other Moggers with similar taste. (Last.fm does something similar, but it only lists your recenty played songs). You can refine this further by creating your own set of trusted Moggers. And if you think the automatically generated lists are wrong, you can edit them yourself by moving artists or songs around thanks to simple Ajax drag-and-drop functionality.
Now, no matter where you are on the Mog site, you can hit the Magic Button to personalize what you see and hear. Go to the Read tab, hit the Magic Button, and you get only posts about songs in your collection or the collections of other Moggers deemed to be closest to you. Go to the Listen tab, hit the Magic Button, and you get posts with MP3s from your collection or from those musical neighbors closest to you. Go to the Recommendations tab, hit the Magic Button, and you get songs from your musical neighbors, minus any that you already own. Go to the Watch tab, hit the Magic Button, and you get one of 450,000 YouTube videos associated with songs that are half from your own music collection and half from those of your Mogging network. Says Hyman:
Imagine if Rolling Stone knew any every song in your collection and generated a magazine based on that. Imagine if YouTube knew what your music collection was—that is Mog TV.
Unfortunately, Rolling Stone writers are not putting their best stuff on Mog yet. But that is another issue. If Mog manages to attract the best music bloggers, it will hardly matter. If it doesn't, then all the shiny Ajax bells and whistles in the world won't do it much good.