The Jukebox ... mark 1?

Spotify launched in a flurry in Europe in 2008. Already people are ripping off the idea (Music Unlimited anyone?). But at it’s heart, Spotify is cloud computing at it’s purest. It has hit many burdens on it’s bumpy rise, but if they can smash through those walls, there is so much potential.

One idea I have is a Spotify pub jukebox.

Not sure about Australia, but computerised jukeboxes are pretty big in the UK. For a pound or two, you get a number of songs. They usually have all the current chart hits. Some even have every chart hit ever!

(Some still have CDs on spindle racks. Pretty sure they can be improved too…)

But every chart hit ever is small beans compared to the entire Spotify catalogue. And if we are playing in credibly possible fantasty – it should have every song legally relased, right?

The Jukebox, as it currently stands, pays for itself. The pounds that are put in pay for the machine rental and sometimes the broadcast fees.

But having Spotify around should save a lot of money on those machines. Also theoretically – more choice should lead to more use. Less overhead and more use should hopefully lead to cheaper use, and could lead to even more use!

It can be done now. Plug in a cheap laptop onto your pub PA. Pay your broadcast fees. Ask for 20p for a song request from your patrons. See how it goes.

Pretty soon, it just looks like a jukebox, but powered by Spotify.

It’s the best way to think about technology. What if you could start from scratch?

If you were to invent a jukebox system for a pub, it would be crazy for you to come up with a new computer interface. Or to do the deals to license the music. Just use Spotify.

And let’s go really nuts. Lets do it on a iPad (because if a child can use one, so can a drunk). And the buttons are all colorful touch screen things. And it feeds jukebox recommendations. Imagine – if you will – it’s hooked up to a central pub jukebox server and you can see what others have listened to? Charts. More.

What about recommendations? How many time have you had three song choices but could only come up with two? How good would it be if, after a couple of beers, someone could help you with that decision.

There’s some start up costs but you can see the power behind the idea.

And there is a gap in the market coming – music for retail. Pubs. Shops. Malls. Etc. And these big emerging music services should be looking to service them.

Back in the day, big chain department stores woud send out cassettes for in-store play. It was a way of controling it. An anodyne cassette of Christmas music would be sent in November, intercut with some store IDs. Sent out to all stores everywhere – the same cassette.

Let’s make it a playlist. Let David Jones or M&S insert their store IDs. They can open a Retail account and all stores can log in.

Then you have stores like Urban Outfitters or those with a cooler vibe. Maybe the store workers can choose from a pool of tracks, to suit their tastes.

Cloud computing should, in theory, destroy the CD. Yet people still bring in CDs to shops to play over the PA. And their song choice is restricted to the half a dozen CDs they bring. Even a 160GB iPod seems hopelessly restrictive.

Why not set them free?

I love pub jukeboxes. I am fascinated by what makes it on there. Who’s behind it. What people pick on them. I have put quite a few dollars in them myself.

But cloud computing is coming. We can see this now.

In every situation where you can hear music, a service like Spotify should be able to supply it. It’s whether they can tailor their service to the needs of retail. And if they can convince retail to support Spotify – and generate another important revenue source.

And if Spotify doesn’t – how about Napster? Or Music Unlimited? Or Zune? Or Rhapsody? Any streaming service, really.

I deeply believe technology will lead to a better world. It’s why this column exists. And technology could reinvent – and improve – something as simple and humble as the jukebox. If we just think about it.

Spotify –

2 Comments on Wk8: The Spotify Jukebox Idea

  1. Congrats! You beat me to it by a couple of months! After doing a little research I found your article. I recently had this same epiphany last week (Black Wednesday) while using the jukebox at my local bar. Currently, a TouchTunes machine. I live in a college town with over 30 bars and every bar seems to have TouchTunes. My roommates and I all have Spotify and love it!

    Have you put more thought in this idea or contacted anyone at Spotify? All that is necessary is a good front end web application and a small computer with a touch screen and wifi! This would be way better then charging $1.00 a song, my guess is bars could pay $120 dollars a year or the application could incorporate advertisements to offset the cost?

    This always happens to me every time I have a good idea… I google it and someone’s already thought about it. I’d like to hear back from you, but I realize this is months old… anyways GREAT IDEA!

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