iJukebox brings power of choice to patrons

By Katie Doyle, Feature Staff Writer

iJukebox, a “mobile jukebox” application for iPhones and Androids, has yet to celebrate its first birthday, but is already creating a buzz within the Boston community.

The free app allows users to choose the music they wish to hear in restaurants, bars and stores that have the app set up. Venue employees decide on a playlist, and then patrons using the app can choose songs via their cell phones.

Chip Selley, iJukebox’s founder and a first-time app developer, said in a phone interview that he conceived the idea when he was sitting in a restaurant, wondering what music was playing. When he learned the restaurant was playing music through Pandora, a personalized radio website, he found himself wishing he had a remote control so he could control the music, he said.

After doing a bit of research, Selley could not find any type of app that allowed users to select songs in an establishment. As a result, iJukebox was born.

“It was a decision I made in a short time to bet everything I had,” Selley said.

The bet turned out to be a good one. The app has brought in $1.1 million since its debut in September, he said. According to a Sept. 22 article in MassHighTech.com, its funding comes from “private angel investors” in Boston and New York.

The app tends to be most popular with restaurant-bar type businesses, Selley said. However, he also said one problem with the app is that it can only be used within establishments that have signed up for it, but that iJukeBox is expanding to locations across the nation, including New York, Florida and Georgia. Of the ten venues using iJukebox, almost five are located in Boston, Selley said.

Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences senior Jenna Gallanter said that she would give the app a try.

“I am not in Boston for the summer, but I think I would download the app next fall if a bar that I usually go to uses it,” she said.

According to iJukebox’s Twitter feed, Boston bars that use the app include T’s Pub, Sweetwater Tavern, The Kinsale and The Asgard. The Asgard, an Irish pub in Cambridge, is one of the app’s most frequent users.

Andrew Martin, manager at The Asgard, said that he likes to use iJukeBox because it automatically streams music, like Pandora; but if a customer with the app is in the restaurant, he or she can select a song from the venue’s playlist.

The Asgard introduced iJukebox about three weeks ago, and so far it has been working well, Martin said. Although there were some glitches when they first started using the app, such as failure to train the The Asgard’s staff properly and the venue’s technology compatibility issues, Martin said that iJukebox’s management was “very receptive to feedback.”

Similar to Gallanter, College of Arts and Sciences senior Hanna Matyiku might make iJukebox one of her next iPhone downloads.

“I like the idea of controlling what music is playing at a bar because most of the time I don’t like what’s playing anyway,” she said. “I just think that the bar will have to do a good job promoting it, so people actually know they can control the music.”

Overall, Martin said that The Asgard’s clientele have received the app well. In fact, on May 22, a total of 23 patrons at the bar had checked in with iJukeBox, he said.

“People are pretty excited about it,” Selley said.

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