Style Jukebox takes your music collection to the cloud [Q&A]
Nowadays, cloud services like Pandora and Spotify allow us to listen to our favorite tunes no matter where we are, without having to actually own a single song. But what happens to our music collections, which we have built up over the years? Some of us have thousands of tracks, stored locally on devices like PCs. Should we just abandon our beloved content and embrace alternative ways of enjoying it?
Luckily, answering this question does not involve making a compromise. Cloud service Style Jukebox aims for the middle road, by providing a convenient solution that allows users to upload the music they own to the cloud and play it on PCs, smartphones and tablets. It is designed to work both with and without an Internet connection (the content can also be downloaded for offline playback), which makes it a good fit for those who use devices which are not always connected to the cloud. As Style Jukebox's motto says, "Your music, anywhere, on all your devices".
There is a limit for the number of files that can be uploaded on the free Style Jukebox tier. It, however, allows users to store quite a bit of music in the cloud before having to shell out for the paid plan. Users can also only upload their collection through the Windows app, which may not be an issue for most people who, based on my experience, store music on PCs or external devices that can be connected to one.
I chatted with Style Jukebox co-founder Ionut Antiu to learn more about the service and its mobile apps, what Style Jukebox can offer now and future plans.
BN: What can you tell us about Style Jukebox?
IA: Style Jukebox is developed in Timisoara, Romania by a small team of music and technology lovers. It helps people consume the music they own, by uploading it to the cloud and playing it anywhere, anytime.
BN: Which services is Style Jukebox competing with?
IA: Because Style Jukebox relies on the music you own, it competes with services like iTunes (Cloud), Google Music or even Dropbox and SkyDrive.
BN: What are the biggest challenges in pitching Style Jukebox to new mobile users?
IA: The most challenging part is to reach them. While having one thing in common -- they own a music collection -- our users don’t quite follow a pattern when it comes to location, for instance. Most of them are based in USA, where cloud solutions are a big hit.
We are also working on attracting classic music player users (like Winamp, Foobar) to move their music to the cloud, and we pitch the advantages on always in sync, anywhere, on all devices.
BN: Why develop for all three major mobile platforms (Android, iOS and Windows Phone)?
IA: Because we want Style Jukebox to be the permanent and trusted place to store your music online. To accomplish this, your music must be available on any device. Style Jukebox is currently available on Windows, Android, Windows Phone and iOS, and support for more devices is coming soon.
BN: How difficult or easy is it to maintain three different mobile apps and push updates to each one? What were the issues you had to deal with when developing/porting for the three platforms?
IA: It is a full-time job. Basically, this is what I do all day: try to find new ways to constantly improve our users music experience, work on new updates, make the apps faster and more enjoyable. If I look back, to less than a year, Style Jukebox has come a long way.
For example: at the beginning we wanted the same UI on all platforms. That's a mistake. Each platform has its predefined user experience, perception and apps must take advantage of that, so we redesigned the apps: the Windows Phone one is Metro, the Android one has Android-ish stuff like widgets, Notification Player, flatter UI and the iPhone app is more eye-candy.
IA: For us, the most popular platform is Android, immediately followed by Windows Phone. On Windows Phone we are the only solution of this kind. On iOS, users are harder to find because at this moment we only support Windows on the desktop side.
We don’t prioritize features. Normally we plan features on all platforms, and we release updates as they are ready.
BN: Are there any feature differences between the Android, iOS and Windows Phone apps?
IA: Yes, there are. But most of them are from a design point of view. Also, because we have full-time Windows Phone and Android developers we can work more and add more features and small details to these apps. They are usually updated at least once a month.
BN: Is there a way to bypass the Windows app to load music, like for someone who's using a Mac?
IA: Yes, there is a web app, but it's designed for internal use only. We don't have the resources right now to focus on a Web app, but we will do it as soon as possible. The internal web app is available here -- we don't officially recommend it. Even though it needs work, it gets the job done.
BN: What are the main differences between the free and premium plan?
IA: The free plan allows the user to upload up to 1,000 songs and enjoy them while streaming or downloading, anywhere in the world, with no country or usage limits. You can link two devices to your account. If you upgrade your account to Premium, then you can upload up to 20,000 songs to the cloud, in addition to the free version. Also, the Premium plan supports FLAC and ALAC music files. The user can also link up to 10 devices to the account and enjoy their music collection online and offline, with no restrictions and no ads. The Premium account is available for $2,99 per month or $24,99 per year.
BN: What's next for Style Jukebox?
IA: More users -- reach a lot of 100k milestones. Web and Mac app. Make our existing apps even better and more appealing.