Music social network MOG relaunched today to become, in the words of founder and CEO David Hyman, the "Huffington Post of the music business."

But the new look is just the first step in what Hyman says will be a much broader music service that integrates streaming music with user-generated content. Exactly what that will look like won't be known for another few months, but there have already been some significant changes. The company has terminated its on-demand, full-song streaming partnership with Rhapsody, and is in the process of licensing music directly from the record labels.

Billboard sat with Hyman to discuss the relaunch, the strategy behind it and what's to come for the social network.

Why the relaunch?
We started really increasing the content that flowed into MOG. In Aug. 2008, we opened up MOG to third-party bloggers who could join our network. Three hundred of the top music blogs joined, meaning all their content flows into MOG and we take over the ad sales for their sites. That's been a huge success. We grew to 5.7 million unique visitors a month from it, and the amount of content was so much that our existing filters and tools became broken. It was OK when there were a few hundred posts a day, but now we're at over 5,000 blog posts a week. So how do you make sense of all that? We went through great effort to make it more digestible for people.

When you opened up MOG to third-party developers, was this new redesign the planned end game?
For the last two or three years, we've been building a music service. This new homepage was a part of it, although the music listening experience was much more of a focus. Launching the music service has gotten delayed, but we didn't want to hold back on all the other great stuff we've been building. This is like an interim launch, without the music service. That part will launch later this year. We just wanted to push this out.

Why build both a music service and a news service? Why do those things work together?
It's not a news service. TechCrunch had a stupid headline. News is just the top left column. It's the integration of user-generated content with a music service that we find engaging. The 5,000 blog posts we collect a week are album reviews, concert reviews, music news, rants and raves, and all of that content becomes context to the music listening experience.

Is this grander plan a change from the original plan for MOG or just an evolution?
It's definitely an evolution. Originally when we launched, we didn't know that the blogging component would take off. MOG was very much a destination where people came to read editorial blog content. MOGers were basically bloggers who used our toolset other than TypePad because we lowered the bar. And there was a community around it. We opened it up based on blogger requests. They were saying they already have a blog and wanted their content on MOG. So now you don't have to actually create the post on MOG.

How much of your content is coming from posts originating on MOG and how much from third party bloggers using MOG as their hub?
It's about 50/50, but what they write about is pretty different. The bloggers are more news focused and more about breaking stuff. The MOGers are more editorial, like philosophically bent and more about rants and raves. They would write the review two weeks after it came out after putting a lot of thought into it and listening to it a bunch of times. They didn't feel like they were the press. So there's just a very different feel.

How has that affected the way members use the site?
Before we launched our ad network, we were at 1.2 million uniques. Now, the total network is 5.7 million, but MOG.com has grown to 3 million uniques. So MOG traffic skyrocketed from blog members joining, and that's caused an increase in blog creation on MOG.

So are you changing direction as a result of performance to date, or was this always part of the plan?
We realized over a year ago that most of the people coming to MOG were people coming to consume content, not create it. It's something like 90% consuming rather than creating. So we turned MOG inside out and made it more for the consumer than the creator. This relaunch is that on steroids. It came from me being obsessed with the Huffington Post. Sometimes the stuff on the Huffington Post is from their writers and sometimes they link straight out. That was an inspiration to get one great page.

How many registered members do you have?
Honestly, once I realized we were a content consumption site, I stopped keeping track. But it's around a few hundred thousand.

About the music service, where is that going?
You noticed that we terminated the Rhapsody partnership as a part of this. We plan on launching our own service. We're deep in negotiation with the labels.

You've previously been skeptical of licensing music yourself due to the cost?
Our original plan changed. We were going to try to pull it off as an ad-supported service, but we just don't think the economics work. I can't get into the revenue model right now. We have a whole ad sales team selling across the network, but we play on layering in an additional revenue stream with the music service.

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