Over a year after its conception and star studded unveiling, the Electric Jukebox, a brand new UK streaming service and accompanying hardware has launched, but what exactly is the Electric Jukebox and is it enough to rival the likes of Apple Music, Spotify, and even Google Play? I’m not so sure.
The Electric Jukebox, in short, is a new bit of tech that allows users to hook up a new music dongle to their TV to turn it into an endless music streaming jukebox. The product itself is relatively nice looking. Offering a series of colours to suit the users taste, the device offers both a dongle and a remote. While the dongle remains behind the TV for the most part, what you’re interacting with the most is the micrphone-like remote.
This remote allows the user to both issue voice search commands and navigate around the Electric Jukebox user interface. Whether it’s choosing a tailor-made playlist from one of the services curators, like Robbie Williams or Sheryl Crow, or searching for a particular album or artists, it can all be done from the comfort of your sofa thanks to the controllers Wii-like motion control.
However, there are a few flaws to this entire concept, the first being who the service is aimed at. During our time with the Electric Jukebox we couldn’t quite nail who this product and service is aimed at. We were told by the company that it’s targeted at those “who don’t have music streaming subscriptions,” perhaps even a more “older audience”, which makes sense considering some of the curators consist of celebrities such as Steven Fry.
That being said, it seems the Electric Jukebox is also suffering with an identity crisis because despite being aimed at those who don’t have a music subscription or don’t quite understand or have the need for one, after a year of use they will be required to purchase an annual subscription to the service anyway. It also brings into question the company’s faith in the service.
Priced at £169, the Electric Jukebox comes with the dongle and remote as well as an already active year’s subscription to the service. There’s no need to add any credit cards or personal information, it’s literally plug-and-play. However, when that year is up, do they expect the user to fork out another £60 for the service, or put up with ad-supported music essentially changing the experience they’ve had for a year? Or are they happy to get their initial £170 and for it to be tossed into a drawer once the first year is out?
In addition, around launch the Electric Jukebox was tagged as “bringing music streaming to the mainstream” however, you’re tethered to your TV, there’s no way to take your “millions of albums” with you, unless you fancy carrying a TV everywhere with you.
It’s clear now that The Electric Jukebox is aimed at the stay-at-home parent or retiree who spends a huge chunk of their time in front of the TV or has the TV on while they shuffle around the house. It’s definitely an untapped market, but it’s also a market that perhaps has no use for such a product, I mean what’s wrong with the radio or simply watching reruns of Jeremy Kyle? At least with these you don’t have to frustratingly waft around a pseudo microphone in order to find the artist your looking for.
Now, as someone who uses Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play I’ll admit I’ve been a little unfair to the Electric Jukebox as I expected more from the device than I received. However, taking into account the target market I handed the clunky remote to my mother-in-law to see what she made of it, and unfortunately she wasn’t impressed, mostly because it required actively searching for music to listen to outside of the curated playlists.
The Electric Jukebox is sadly very one dimensional when it comes to personalising your experience. There’s no way to play an artists radio and there’s no recommendations based on previous listening. The only thing you can do is save individual albums or songs for playback later, but even then, there’s no way to mass-shuffle your entire “saved” library.
Unless you’re entirely sure what you want to listen to, or want to see what eclectic playlist Alesha Dixon has come up with, you’re pretty screwed if you’re after a no-brainier listening experience.
It seems like the Electric Jukebox has good intentions, but sadly it falls short of anything really remarkable. Someone who’s not interested in a music subscription service won’t all of a sudden decide to spend £170 on a music streaming service, especially when they could grab a Chromecast for £30 and stream YouTube and Google Play Music from their phone. Hell, even a DAB Radio has more appeal than this.