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Electric Jukebox is music streaming through your television

Electric Jukebox teaser

Electric Jukebox wants to make music listening a shared experience again by streaming music through your television

As if there isn’t already enough music streaming services in existence, between Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Tidal, Deezer and a whole host of others (I could be here all day), you’re already hard pressed to pick one. Fortunate then, that the Electric Jukebox Company’s unsurprisingly-named Electric Jukebox isn’t really looking to compete with these existing services. While Spotify and the like allow you to take music on the move, with a raft of supported devices and speakers, the Electric Jukebox is taking a far simpler approach. 

At its press launch this morning at BAFTA, Rob Lewis, CEO of Electric Jukebox Company, painted a picture of families gathering around a turntable to listen to records, something which is missing from today’s more isolated listening. He cited YouGov statistics showing that music streaming has yet to gain mass market adoption, with only 8% of the UK and US signing up to music streaming subscriptions in the past 10 years. The radio and hi-fis still dominate when it comes to music listening for the vast majority of the population. 

Electric Jukebox HDMI dongle

The Electric Jukebox is essentially an HDMI dongle and accompanying motion-controlled remote control with a built-in microphone that looks not dissimilar to media streaming sticks such as the Roku Streaming Stick. It will be available in red, black and blue. It looks to bring a plug-and-play music listening experience to make music streaming far more approachable. Arguably cornering the market for older listeners who are intimidated by existing services and technology. The company has promised the setup process will take no more than 2 minutes.

Electric Jukebox onstage demo

The Electric Jukebox will cost £179 for the device, which also gets you 12 months of music streaming. After the first year, it’ll cost £60 a year for a music pass and this isn’t an automatically recurring charge. If you don’t opt to subscribe you can still listen to curated playlists, much like the free subscriptions from Apple Music or Spotify. The free service will be ad-supported and take full advantage of your television screen to serve you adverts. The Electric Jukebox is available to preorder from today, and if you preorder within the first week you get a special introductory price of £149.

Electric Jukebox has partnered with artists including Robbie Williams (and slightly more oddly, Robbie Williams’ wife), Alesha Dixon, Sheryl Crow and Stephen Fry who will curate playlists. Alesha Dixon said describing the service, “It doesn’t get much better than having friends and family over and blasting out our favourite tunes. Electric Jukebox lets us choose what we all want to listen to together, by simply picking what we want to listen from the comfort of a sofa”.

Electric Jukebox onstage Q&A ^As well as artists, Electric Jukebox has the backing of a large number of music industry figures

From what I saw of the interface, it all seemed pleasingly simple. There are large icons that take advantage of your television’s larger screen and things are broken down into your own music, discovery and search. You control an onscreen cursor using the remote’s motion sensor, much like with a Wii remote or the remote accompanying many of LG’s smart televisions. The remote also has a microphone so you can say artist names to quickly find them. I’m not sure how robust the voice recognition is yet until I get one in for review. Electric Jukebox has also partnered with Getty Images, so you’ll get served beautiful photography to accompany your music with optional backdrop screensavers a bit like with Google Chromecast.

Electric Jukebox remote

The device certainly does make music streaming more approachable and its cost is reasonable but does factor in its limited use relative to other streaming services that can be used on the move. The other sticking point is having to channel music through your television. Today’s flat televisions often have awful speakers at the detriment of sound quality.

Granted, soundbars and external speakers are available but one of the selling points of the Electric Jukebox was its cost and ease of use. Rob Lewis made a point of the high cost and relatively low adoption of multiroom speakers, such as Sonos, to use with streaming services. There’s the cost of improving the sound from your television if you care about audio fidelity and don’t have existing equipment, which seems at odds with Electric Jukebox’s main selling point. But, as Rob Lewis puts it, “Electric Jukebox isn’t for everyone but it is still for hundreds of millions of people”.

I was told to expect more announcements to come regarding music catalogue and other functions. As it stands, the Electric Jukebox should be in your hands by Christmas if you preorder one now and I can see it being a real hit over the festive period when families get together. I’ll get one in for review as soon as its available.