The quest for the ultimate jukebox has a new entrant.
Due in stores this holiday season, the Electric Jukebox ($229) transforms your television and home entertainment system into an easy-to-use music machine. The small device, about the size of a deck of cards, connects via Wi-Fi or Ethernet to access an extensive CD-quality music catalog of more than 30 million songs, similar to that offered by streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.
Sound comes through speakers in your TV or home theater setup. You use a wireless remote similar to the Nintendo Wii controller to peruse the service. “The device we know that everyone has and increasingly has fantastic speakers is your television,” said CEO Rob Lewis, who formerly was CEO of U.K.-based music tech company Omnifone. “Essentially what this is doing is turning your TV into a jukebox.”
Lewis notes that nearly half of U.S. homes use a sound bar speaker with their TV, something that would serve well for music listening.
He and the team at Electric Jukebox, headquartered in London, think that the TV can be a boon to the music industry just as it has for Hollywood with streaming video. “Many hope to join streaming music, but haven’t done it,” Lewis said. “We hope this is a way that we can bring them back into music industry and have them listening to music again. We are offering something in a box that you can plug in and in two minutes be playing music.”
More than 135 million in the U.S. use music streaming services, but only a fraction — about 13% — pay for a subscription, according to research firm MusicWatch. The Electric Jukebox, which is available for pre-order now on the company’s web site (orders placed before Oct. 21 save $30 off the price) includes a one-year subscription to the advertising-free music service in the price of the product. The device is available in the U.S. and the U.K.
The company’s executive team includes several music industry executives including former EMI Music CEO and chairman Alain Levy and former U2 manager Paul McGuinness. Electric Jukebox is also enlisting artists to serve as evangelists for the product when it launches.
“It’s like a ‘walking into a music store’ experience,” said multiple Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow in an interview. “For me, one of the things that’s been missing from the music experience the last few years is the communal experience. I grew up with music being a shared experience of buying an album, studying the artwork, having friends over and dropping the needle … That was really a huge part of my love of music, sharing it with my friends and my family.”
She likes the ability to easily create playlists by using the remote, which also lets you search using your voice. “For people who are not necessarily savvy with technology, it’s really simple and very inclusive. Even kids can join in on it,” said Crow, who will be among artists that have curated playlists available on the service. “I would say if I can work it anybody can.”
Electric Jukebox addresses a music industry weak spot, says MIDiAresearch analyst Mark Mulligan. “The labels need a way to reach the more passive music fans
,” he said. “Whether the TV itself is the right platform for that is another question … but the concept of winning back some of the living room for music is a valid one.”
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider
Read or Share this story: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/10/14/plug-and-play-device-transforms-your-tv-into-electric-jukebox/73858482/