It’s time we embraced 21st century jukeboxes
The situation: Jukeboxes are an American staple. From Grease Lightning to The Supremes, the jukebox has a special place in American culture. Lately, however, we’ve replaced communal tunes with white earbuds and silent discos.
The problem with the standard jukebox is that it’s too easy for one person (with a roll of quarters) to play that force Abba or Metallica on the entire bar. It’s not that those bands are bad, but they don’t often represent the tastes of the entire audience. The jukebox of the 21st century, would instead democratize the playlist for the entire bar without relying on spare change. Though there are digital jukeboxes and Ping didn’t really pan out for Apple, no social music selection app functions as well as it could.
The product: By posting options on a visible screen, the jukebox would solicit votes via SMS. Like voting for American Idol, each person in the bar could vote for his or her favorite song. To generate revenue, each vote (after a few free ones to get started) would cost $0.05, which would be automatically added to your monthly phone bill.
With two options for devoting this application: iOS and ITunes or the Spotify app store, such an application would be relatively easy to build atop these existing platforms. The challenge, however, is adoption at bars, making this business more about b2b biz dev than technology.
Turntable.fm is one site onto this idea. They create online listening rooms where users can take turns DJing, and the other listeners can nix a song if they don’t like it. But the difference is that the users are all spread out in different locations. It may be a digital jukebox, but it’s not actually a communal experience. If I can’t dance with you, we aren’t listening to a jukebox.
The Problem: Rumor has it that the jukebox industry is somewhat corrupt or at least hard to enter. Regional companies control the dive bar jukebox market. Though that may seem like a barrier to some, to me it sounds like an industry ripe for disruption. With the app we’re proposing users could use the jukebox model more efficiently, harnessing social technology everyone could participate in the listening experience. All you have to do is take out your phone and cast a vote.