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UNORTHODOX JUKEBOX

A new TV-based streaming service has been launched in the U.K. and U.S. today by Omnifone CEO Rob Lewis, backed by an intriguing cast of veteran characters including long-serving but now-retired U2 manager Paul McGuinness, ex-EMI Chairman/CEO Alain Levy and Vice Chairman David Munns, Chief Licensing Officer at PPL Jez Bell and ’90s finance man at Polydor and Island James White. What’s the crack?

Dubbed the Electric Jukebox, the device plugs into the back of a telly and costs £179 ($229) a year for both the dongle and a one-year subscription. Users can either chose to sit through the pain of TV ads on the free version after 12 months, or buy a £60 annual pass for the premium version without having to sign up anywhere.

Its closest competitors are Google's Chromecast (£30/$35, plus whatever the cost is for a subscription to whatever users want to stream from) and what will soon be Apple Music available via Apple TV (£59 for the device plus a monthly subscription).

Lewis said the Electric Jukebox holds a “comprehensive” catalog of millions of CD-quality tracks and curated playlists from partners including Robbie Williams, Sheryl Crow and Alesha Dixon (who’s got a new album to plug). 

Lewis explained that the device is aimed at making streaming “more accessible,” adding that "The beauty of Electric Jukebox is that it's family-friendly and simple to use, rather than complex and often tricky-to-use streaming services.”

Featured briefly on the—pretty slick, it must be said—online advert are indie artists Mogwai (Rock Action), Al Green (Blue Note), Aphex Twin (Warp) and major names Imagine Dragons (Interscope) and Coldplay (Parlophone).

What will it pay artists? Is there a nationwide ad campaign in the works? Will it fall on its arse like Tidal or help bring a host of sofa spuds into the streaming revolution? We wait with bated breath.

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