Here are Soundnet, we were amazed last week to learn that legendary British rock ballad singer, Bonnie Tyler, will be representing the UK in this year’s Eurovision song contest in May.
In recent years, the international musical competition has become something of a novelty for British viewers, not least because political motivations seem to have quashed any hope that the UK might win.
Seeing an iconic artist like Tyler taking up the challenge for our country however, we were reminded that Eurovision hasn’t always been quite so much of an exaggerated spectacle. In fact, a surprisingly large number of well-known artists have entered the competition since it began over fifty years ago, and this week we’ve decided to dedicate the blog to some of the most memorable.
Undoubtedly the most recognised band to ever gain fame from the contest is Swedish pop sensation Abba, who won the contest in 1974 with their first ever single; ‘Waterloo.’ The enduring popularity of this pop classic, including on jukeboxes across the country, is proof that the characteristic upbeat, catchy style of the contest doesn’t have to mean bland pop songs.
Five years before Abba’s win, British treasure Lulu claimed a joint win with Spain, France and the Netherlands, singing Boom Bang-a-Bang. The song not only won the attention of Eurovision fans though, it also reached second place in the UK singles chart.
The 2000 song contest saw a surprise winner from Denmark’s Olsen Brothers, bucking the trend of young performers as two of the oldest artists to enter, with their traditional ballad, ‘Fly on the wings of love.’ What makes this entry more memorable though, is the fact it was later covered to become an international dance hit in nightclubs across Europe.
Looking ahead to this year’s competition in two months’ time, we hope that Bonnie Tyler’s entry might repeat the success of these tracks in the nation’s pubs and bars, if not in the contest itself. Who knows, perhaps one day we may even see a return to the days when Eurovision just stood for great popular music.
Recent reports from HM Revenue and Customs suggest the majority of pubs are currently not prepared for the new machine games legislation due to take effect in February 2013. Only 353 British pubs, representing around one per cent of those likely to be affected by the new duty, have signed up to the scheme to date.
A British Beer and Pub Association spokesman was keen to express concern over this extremely low uptake rate, stating:
“HM Revenue and Customs certainly needs to do all it can to raise awareness in the short period of time left before the deadline for registration expires. We have guidance to help licensees register on our website.”
As this statement suggests, it seems that many pub owners may lack proper knowledge on the details of the new tax. Specifically, the Machine Games Duty is applicable to any games machines offering a cash prize above the value of the price to play, at a rate of between five and twenty per cent, depending on the prize amount.
The deadline for registration is the 11th of January; however the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers’ strategic affairs director, Kate Nicholls, advises against postponing until then. “It can take about two weeks to register if there are any problems with registration,” explains Nicholls, adding, “You can’t do it at the last minute.”
Beyond confusion over the length of the registration process, the low application rate may also be partially attributable to a misunderstanding over who is accountable to pay the duty.
Unlike hired jukebox services, where the jukebox site license and the PPL dubbing license is paid within Soundnet’s music service charge, in the case of games machines, this responsibility lies with the pub operator themself. They are therefore also charged with the time consuming task of staying up to date on the latest changes to UK legal regulations. In light of these implications, the benefits of hiring jukeboxes should be appreciated when it comes to providing entertainment for their customers.
Read about Soundnet’s services for more information on the time and efficiency savings to be made from installing a fully managed background music system in your pub or bar.
Despite the fact the jukeboxes of today represent sophisticated digital entertainment systems, pub-goers still seem to see the jukebox with a hint of fond nostalgia. In honour of the jukebox’s on-going vintage appeal, this blog post will take a sentimental look back at the evolution of the humble jukebox, from its invention back in 1889 to the present day.
The jukebox’s story begins over a century ago in the Palais Royale Saloon, San Francisco, where the first ever jukebox was developed by the Pacific Phonograph Company.
This early machine was formed of four stethoscope-like tubes, used in the same way as modern-day headphones, connected to an Edison Class M electric gramophone housed inside a wooden cabinet. This original jukebox was given the not-so-memorable name of ‘nickel-in-the-slot player’, as it functioned by inserting nickel coins, worth around $1.08 in modern currency.
Fortunately for the Palais Royal, the new machine was an overnight success, and quickly became so popular that it soon replaced the self-playing piano as the background music system of choice for most pubs and bars.
Over time, the mechanisms behind the jukebox began to change, with amplification technology allowing whole bars worth of customers to enjoy their favourite songs, instead of the four patrons served by the original machine.
Alongside the evolution of this much-loved invention, the machine’s name also changed as consumers began adopting the term ‘jukebox’, as they are known today. The reason behind this change in terminology is still largely undetermined, though it may relate to the slang term ‘juke house’, used at the time to describe a rowdy public house.
There’s no doubt that modern digital jukeboxes are a world apart from these original models, but as the lively meaning behind its name might suggest, the jukebox’s ability to captivate a crowd dates right back to its initial creation and seems likely to continue well into the future.
To step back from the past and look towards the future of background music systems, read up on the numerous special features offered by the latest digital jukeboxes here.
Recent MTV European Music Award winning artist Taylor Swift has announced she won’t be sharing her latest album on Spotify, though thankfully it will still appear on Soundnet’s Jukeboxes.
Spotify is not the only streaming service to be hit by Swift’s decision to withhold her new material. As reported by Garett Kamps, senior director of Content Programming for rival streaming service, Rhapsody;
“Taylor Swift and her management made a decision not to make her new album available to Rhapsody’s million-plus subscribers.”
Swift is the latest in a series of big name artists to have decided not to allow online streaming sites to offer her tracks, following in the footsteps of Adele and Coldplay. These superstars have argued that releasing their new material on Spotify threatens sales revenues.
Music fans will be disappointed to learn that the delay before Swift’s most recent recording makes it onto streaming sites like Spotify, Deezer and Rhapsody could last several months at least. Worse still, Adele’s fans were forced to hold out 18 months before they could listen to her last album on Spotify.
Luckily, this may present pub landlords with an opportunity to tempt music lovers out of their houses, as Soundnet’s digital jukebox packages can legally offer all the latest releases without a delay, including Swift’s new album.
In fact, some select tracks are even available before they’ve been officially released. Thanks to this option, customers in pubs already featuring a Soundnet jukebox were able to hear Swift’s last two singles ‘We are never ever getting back together’ and ‘I knew you were trouble’ before they hit the charts.
Clearly, this provides a much sought-after form of entertainment for music fans and creates an enjoyable atmosphere for pub-goers. More importantly, however, it also constitutes a way for pubs to boost their profits, as digital jukeboxes offer a highly cost-effective way to comply with music licensing laws and a lucrative second income stream.
To discover more about tapping into a new market of music fans, read up on the various jukebox music packages available through Soundnet.
The Association for Licensed Multiple Retailers announces that it has raised an additional £7000 in an attempt to oppose a planned 4000% royalty fee increase for pubs holding special music based events.
AMLR’s BEDA Late Night Working Group chairman, John Hayes, comments, “We are doing all we can to raise more money to fight this because it is going to be a battle. The good operators will not be able to run their business if they (PPL) bring in the fees.”
The latest fundraising milestone comes as part of a wider campaign against the changes announced earlier this year, which senior industry figures described as ‘devastating’ and ‘unsustainable.’ In essence, the new fee structure proposed by public music licensing firm PPL would equate to an increase from £30 to £380 for a single event including specially featured musical entertainment, such as a DJ or disco, if held in a pub with capacity of 200-250.
This astronomical rise leads ALMR strategic affairs director Kate Nicholls to refer to the altered charges as “nothing less than a dawn raid on an industry that is already suffering a squeeze on margins.” Nicholls’ view is mirrored by British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmons, who similarly describes the increase as, “unacceptable and off the scale.”
Despite the concerted effort the ALMR continues to dedicate towards fighting for more reasonable special event broadcasting fees for pubs and bars, however, it remains to be seen whether PPL will yield on the issue.
Under such uncertain terms for the future, landlords must therefore cater for all eventualities, by looking into more cost-effective avenues for offering customers a source of musical entertainment. Hired jukeboxes offer perhaps one of the most convenient, and also lucrative, methods of achieving this goal, costing as little as 82 pence per day for a fully managed and completely legal music system.
For further advice on creating a welcoming ambiance for your pub on a limited budget, contact a Soundnet representative for detailed information on the various digital music packages available.
A new study has discovered that the majority of consumers actually believe pleasant background music in pubs improves the taste of their pint. Of those surveyed, 53 per cent stated nice music would moderately to significantly enhance their experience, and a further 33 per cent did not mind hearing music while they drank.
The report, conducted on behalf of pubco Taylor Walker, was used to determine the exact mathematical formula for what constitutes the ‘perfect pint’, by surveying pub customers on a variety of topics from temperature to snacks.
In addition to this key finding on music preference, the equation predicts that pub-goers prefer to enjoy a pint with three to four friends in an upbeat mood, two days before they’re due back at work. They’re also happiest when snacks are widely available and the background temperature is a comfortable 17.6 degrees Celsius, with over 40 per cent choosing the pub garden as their favourite place to consume a pint.
Not all beer drinkers are alike, however, as the study finds several important differences in how various groups of people like their beverage. For example, 18-24 year olds, the youngest age group surveyed, were more than twice as likely to appreciate music played at a loud volume while at the pub than older customers.
Clearly, these scientific results will be of great interest to many pub landlords looking to improve their offering in order to draw in the crowds. In terms of music though, some may fear that license fees for popular tracks will prove prohibitively expensive.
Fortunately, Soundnet’s background music packages provide a highly cost-effective solution to this common problem, as initial set up, including 1250 tracks carefully selected to appeal to each individual pub’s client base, is free of charge. So, for instance, as the study suggests Welsh and Irish pub-goers have different attitudes to loud, raucous music, track listings could be changed to reflect these differing preferences.
Contact a representative to discover more about which playlist options Soundnet’s expert advisors would recommend for your pub or bar.
The Orchid Group pub company has seen mounting interest in Halloween over the last few years and now predicts 12 per cent sales growth over this year’s period of celebration.
According to the company’s marketing executive, Bella Kirkton, “The influence of popular occult TV programmes, films and books such as Twilight, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, and the Harry Potter films is huge and has really helped take Halloween’s popularity to new heights.” The spooky event has become so popular, in fact, that it is now the UK’s third largest spending holiday, beaten only by Christmas and Easter.
With consumers purchasing over £300 million worth of Halloween products last year, The Orchid chain is eager to make the most of the increased footfall the holiday brings. In Kirkton’s own words, “Halloween is one of our best weeks of the year, and it’s an exciting time for kids and big kids.”
The pub group has therefore extended its Halloween events calendar to cover several days’ worth of activities and promotions. Kirkton says the aim is to create “something for everyone to enjoy” including a Halloween buffet and party night. It is hoped these celebrations will repeat the successes experienced by the chain last year. Most notably, Orchid Group establishment The Grapes Inn in Shrewsbury saw an unprecedented 57.7 per cent sales increase over previous weeks in response to its ghost hunt and fancy dress disco events.
Of course the popularity of these events depends heavily on creating the perfect ghoulish atmosphere within each pub, which can involve a fairly substantial amount of organisation. In terms of the soundtrack for the night though, The Milestones in Music Jukebox package can simplify the planning process.
This model offers a selection of pre-programmed Halloween playlists, alongside every top 40 chart hit since records began. This gives venues the choice between letting their customers pick from a wide selection of ghostly tracks, or just selecting a digital jukebox playlist to continue playing throughout the night.
Contact one of the Soundnet team if you’d like to create ambiance in your pub or bar this Halloween.
Spending every day working with jukeboxes, it’s not often that the Soundnet team are thankful for a silent, music-free atmosphere. By a stroke of luck, however, it was exactly that silence that allowed the staff over at digital jukebox manufacturers, Sound Leisure, to hear the cries of an abandoned kitten right outside their door.
When the little kitten hadn’t been claimed by its owners, Sound Leisure Chairman Alan Black decided to take the orphan in. Since then, Alan and his PA, Janet have devoted hours of their time to making sure the week-old kitten, who they’ve named Rocket, grows up safe and healthy.
In tribute to this act of kindness, our digital jukebox blog takes a special look at the top songs featuring feline friends. Of course, as Soundnet’s Milestones in Music jukebox package features every top 40 chart hit since records began, this kitty-themed playlist includes everything from old favourites to more modern moggy music.
To start off, how about a trip back to the 90s for a nostalgic pop hit from girl band Atomic Kitten? Continuing with the retro theme, a quick burst of school disco classic ‘Tiger Feet’ is bound to get pub-goers up on the dance floor on a Saturday night. Turning the clock even further back, a touch of Cat Stevens brings a rockier edge to the evening.
For digital jukebox fans that prefer a more relaxed, indie atmosphere, The Cure’s alternative classic ‘The Lovecats’ is always a hit. To follow up, a few tracks from feel-good electronic rock band ‘Super Furry Animals’ will continue to create a light-hearted, relaxed ambiance. Chart fans, on the other hand, will be pleased to see The Pussycat Dolls’ biggest hits on Soundnet’s digital jukeboxes.
As a final track, there can be no other choice to pay homage to Sound Leisure’s very own little Rocket than Elton John’s iconic anthem, Rocket Man.
Contact a Soundnet advisor to discover a whole host of other tracks available through Soundnet’s digital jukebox music packages, whether cat related or not.
The Snaffle Bit pub, home to a Sound Leisure Jukebox, powered by Soundnet, has become the latest stop on a round-up of Glasgow’s best Jukebox venues by guided audio tour producer, The Walking Heads.
The tour guide company comments that the traditional fine ale and whisky pub ‘could be forgiven for not being an obvious choice to host one of Glasgow’s most highly regarded jukeboxes.’ However, they are nonetheless impressed with the venue’s commitment to ensuring the jukebox remains relevant and attracts a wide variety of customers.
The Walking Heads blog reports that the Snaffle Bit was the first pub it had encountered on the ‘Jukebox Journeys’ article series to have a technologically advanced digital model featuring a touch-screen interface. But, while this digital jukebox may be in stark contrast with The Snaffle Bit’s more rustic feel, complete with customary Scottish Tartan, the reporter states that pub is clearly ‘determined to make the digital jukebox a place for everyone to feel comfortable and at home.’
To achieve this, the venue has opted to offer an extensive variety of musical genres and artists through its digital jukebox. The model’s catalogue includes everything from dependable Scottish classics from bands like The Proclaimers to the latest releases from today’s charts, automatically updated on a regular basis. To quote the Walking Heads blog writer, ‘I was extremely (and happily) surprised to see a number of selection options offering music from the 60’s right up to the present date.’
This wide array of available tracks represents a clear earning opportunity for the pub however The Snaffle Bit has taken a different tactic to make money from its jukebox on one of the busiest nights of the week. Promising customers free jukebox selections from 9pm every Friday, The Snaffle Bit always draws a crowd, leading the Walking Heads reporter to conclude that the jukebox is ‘a big reason to visit the pub over other local rivals.’
Check back to our blog soon for other ingenious ways of increasing jukebox profits in your own venue.
New research from The Campaign for Real Ale has revealed that there are over 1,000 breweries operational across the United Kingdom; the highest total currently in business since the 1930s.
The findings, which are included in the 2013 edition of iconic publication ‘The Good Beer Guide’, discovered that there were 1,009 breweries now operating in the country. Over the past 12 months, a record-breaking 158 breweries were opened across the United Kingdom; twice as many breweries open when compared to a decade ago.
Speaking about the finding, Roger Protz, the editor of The Good Beer Guide, said:
“The UK beer and pub industry has changed enormously over the last 40 years…A double-dip recession has done nothing to halt the incredible surge in the number of brewers coming on steam, making the small brewing sector one of the most remarkable UK industry success stories of the last decade.
“[It] shows how brilliantly diverse our pub industry remains,” he added.
The news from The Good Food Guide highlights the continuing consumer demand for variety in the drinking experience. The same philosophy can be applied to the atmosphere of a bar or pub. Customers want the opportunity to enjoy themselves in a venue which helps them relax and socialise. But, variety is the spice of life.
A background music system allows bar and club owners to provide their customers with the perfect ambiance for their evening out. The Soundnet background music system lets owners create and manage their own tailored playlist, ensuring that patrons have a continuing variety of songs and music. So, whether you own a bar, pub, club or café, you can be sure that your patrons will keep on coming back for more.
Contact one of the Soundnet team to discover how a background music system could help you create the perfect atmosphere in your pub or club.
Having recently upgraded to the VenueHub digital jukebox model, Sittingbourne Sports Bar manager Kris Forshaw is so pleased with the new addition to his bar that he’s decided to forego booking a weekend DJ completely.
Kris was impressed by the model’s video function, a feature which allows customers to select an impressive range of music videos. Indeed, the music video element of the Sittingbourne jukebox now accounts for 90 per cent of the venue’s jukebox selections. The VenueHub digital jukebox also offers every top 10 video since 1980. This is in addition to over seven million tracks already available on the machine.
Kris enthuses in a recent article in Coin-Op Community:
“Customers are always selecting the latest titles.”
The sports bar manager has also come up with an innovative way of creating even more of a crowd around the new jukebox, using the VHub’s customisable features. Drawing on the success of the bar’s popular event nights, Kris decided to add photos of the evening to the jukebox so customers come back another day to see if they’ve been caught on camera.
This clever tactic is clearly working, as the Sittingbourne bar has seen takings increase by around 80 per cent since Kent-based Automatic Machine Services installed the VHub digital jukebox.
Speaking about the article, Jason Jarrett (Pictured above) from Automatic Machine Services said: “Kris has a great venue here and as soon as the potential was realised, we upgraded him to a Venue Hub AV to maximise not only the cashbox but also his customers’ experience. The results have been fantastic.”
But, the VHub has also won praise for its functionality too. Kris notes that several customers have commented on how quickly they adapted to the digital jukebox, saying the touch-screen technology reminds them of their iPhones and iPads.
Contact one of the Soundnet team if you’d like to know more about the VenueHub’s benefits and special features.
This summer, Soundet have been giving customers the opportunity to win a fantastic Apple iPad with our innovative 'Summer of Sport' competition. Today, we can reveal the final winner of the contest as Lucas Stanley, a Bromsgrove resident who claimed his prize in The Lime Bar &Thai Brasserie.
The Summer of Sport competition gave our digital jukebox users the chance to win these brilliant Apple products through selecting special songs on our digital jukeboxes. The contest ran across 6,000 participating venues through the 'Milestones in Music' package. Lucas, having selected the special track in questions, a Stone Roses classic, claims the final prize of the summer competition.
Says winning customer, Lucas Stanley: "I use the jukebox a lot. Everything in the chart is always on there - I'm chuffed to win the iPad."
Nam, Lessee of the Lime Bar & Thai Brasserie, added: "The jukebox is on all the time. Everyone loves it. Sceptre Leisure has supplied the jukebox here for over two years."
The Summer of Sport competition enabled operators and pubs to capitalise on the summer's packed sporting calendar through the VHub digital jukebox and its Milestones in Music package. The Milestones in Music digital jukebox package is the most popular choice for bars and pubs across the country, reaping high earnings through its extensive collection of 30,000 tracks.
Speaking about the competition, Soundnet spokesperson James Luck said:
"The Summer of Sport promotion exceeded our expectations in terms of uptake. By taking the initiative and setting up a unique competition Soundnet demonstrated its commi Brasserie tment to supporting operators and pubs by finding new ways to drive interest in digital jukeboxes."
Milestones in Music boasts all recently released tracks, as well as every Top 40 song from the last 60 years. The digital jukebox package comes with approximately 200 new songs each month.
Coverage of this year’s Bestival music festival will be broadcast live over the internet after a landmark deal. The event, which is held annually on the Isle of Wight, will be broadcasting across video site YouTube, with 40 acts set to be available to global viewers during the event. It is the first time a UK music festival will be streamed over the Google-owned media site.
The announcement means that the two-day festival will be available live via YouTube across September 7-9 as continuing coverage of the two main stages are broadcast across the world. Acts to be streamed over the video-sharing site include Stevie Wonder, New Order, Florence + The Machine and Sigur Ross. A selection of performances will also be available to watch for 90 days following the end of the festival.
The announcement provides further insight into the way which technology can bring fans closer to their music heroes. Indeed, in the past, YouTube have streamed live concerts from the likes of U2 and Regina Spektor, as well as dramatic performances and political events.
Here at Soundnet, we’re always keen to see how technology can be used to bring music fans a more interactive experience. In 2012, we announced a ground-breaking partnership with music social network Last.Fm and we are constantly looking at innovations in the way our digital jukeboxes can be used (from seasonal competitions to a massive range of music videos). Get in touch with one of the Soundnet team to discover more about our innovative approach to music and technology. Alternatively, you can find more about our digital jukeboxes here.
Foreign holidaymakers to Great Britain feel the most welcome in restaurants and pubs, according to a new study from tourist body VisitBritain.com. The study, which questioned 9,000 overseas travellers visiting the country for a holiday, found that 21 per cent of all visitors felt 'most welcome' in restaurants, while 13 per cent stated they felt pubs provided the warmest reception.
The study, which discovered that a huge 80 per cent of foreign travellers felt welcome in the UK, is a sterling recommendation of the UK pub and restaurant business. Speaking about the survey results, Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications at VisitBritain, said:
"We want to make sure that we continue to be seen as a welcoming destination for our visitors so that they continue to want to come back and recommend us to their friends and family.
"Enhancing the world's perceptions of a British welcome will help us attract more visitors in the years ahead."
Here at Soundnet background music blog, we've previously praised the warm atmosphere in many of the UK's pubs and restaurants. In fact, a welcoming ambiance can go far in attracting the right sort of clientele, from tourists to families, and a background music system can play an important role in this.
A background music system for a bar, pub or restaurant gives owners the ability to provide exactly the right genre of music for their establishment, whatever the style of the venue. You can discover more about why the right background music system is an important element in creating the right ambiance here.
Alternatively, you can contact one of the Soundnet team to discover more about our background music systems for pubs and restaurants.
Hot on the heels of Jessica Ennis’ Olympic gold medal, Sheffield continues its winning streak by claiming the July Summer of Sport title with Darran Wheelhouse, a regular of the Malthouse pub, claiming the second iPad prize of the contest.
The Summer of Sport, a monthly competition which runs until the end of August, gives digital jukebox players the opportunity to win one of three iPads over the summer period. Users have the chance to claim one of these luxury tablet computers by finding numerous codes hidden on tracks available on Sound Leisure digital jukeboxes across the country.
Darran claimed the prize on the Malthouse’s Milestones In Music digital jukebox by successfully uncovering Guns ‘n Roses’ classic ‘Sweet Child ‘O Mine' as one of July's secret songs. Darran claims a free Apple iPad as his prize, with the pub lessee, Julie Horn winning £200 of high street shopping vouchers.
The Summer of Sport competition runs across approximately 6,000 digital jukeboxes across the country. The contest is available on the popular Milestones in Music package and was designed to celebrate the fantastic number of sporting events taking place over the UK summer.
The Milestones in Music package boasts all recently released tracks, as well as every Top 40 songs from the last 60 years. The package, which reaps high earnings for pubs and bars across the country, was launched in 2006, contains up to 30,000 tracks, with approximately 200 new songs added to the digital jukebox each month.
To find more about the Summer of Sport contest, or to ask about our digital jukebox packages, contact one of the Soundnet team today.
Radio is the most popular way consumers discover new music, according to a new study. A survey by market research company Nielsen found that 48 per cent of music fans in the United States found new songs and artists via radio stations, while seven per cent went to YouTube for their search for tracks. 10 per cent came across previously unheard artists via recommendations from their friends.
The report, which questioned 3,000 online consumers, highlighted the increasing number of mediums used by listeners to discover new songs. 53 per cent of teenagers used iTunes to hear new tracks, while 54 per cent of all respondents said they would be more likely to buy music if a friend recommended it to them. Music, chat rooms and social networks were also listed as channels consumers used to find music.
Speaking about the survey, David Bakul, senior manager at Nielsen, commented:
"While younger listeners opt for technologically advanced methods, traditional methods of discovery like radio and word-of-mouth continue to be strong drivers. With so many ways to purchase, consume and discover great new music it's no wonder that the consumer continues to access and enjoy music in greater numbers."
At Soundnet, we've also seen that our background music systems are used by consumers to find new music. Pub, restaurant and bar patrons often discover tracks and artists through the background music in their favourite venue. Indeed, new statistics from music-discovery service Shazam revealed that over five billion songs had been discovered by the application. The app identifies songs played on background music systems, television and radio stations.
Contact one of the Soundnet team and discover what new music your customers could soon be discovering with our background music systems.
A new campaign designed to put pubs at the centre of the economic recovery was launched this week. The Beermat Entrepreneur initiative, backed by influential industry publication The Morning Advertiser, is designed to harness the power of the pub-going general public in order to jumpstart the UK economy.
The initiative, which was launched in London this week, is a product of Start-Up Britain and Pub is the Hub. The campaign askes pub patrons to submit eye–catching business ideas on the back of specially produced beer mats. The pub which returns the most entries will be given the title of 'Britain's Most Entrepreneurial pub' and will win a laptop, as well as expert advice from one of the country's leading entrepreneurs.
Commenting on the launch of the scheme, Pub is the Hub chief executive John Longden said:
"When we launched Pub is the Hub in Essex somebody told us, ‘I actually use my local pub to find out who is the best plasterer, joiner or builder in the area — so if I do need any business advice I go down the pub and I ask them. It demonstrated to us the hidden role of licensees in their communities."
The team at Soundnet agree with John's comments; pubs are the centre of many communities, providing punters with an opportunity to network, share stories and discuss the news topics of the day. The Beermat Entrepreneur initiative is an ambitious scheme and we wish it every success.
This scheme (and others like it) relies on a good community pub to succeed. Indeed, a pub must offer a warm, welcoming atmosphere in order to be this centre of the suburb, village or town.
And the background music of a pub plays a big part in this. The right background music in a pub can create an atmosphere vital to attracting the right sort of clientele. Discover more about the best pub background music here.
Old records are outselling new releases for the first time since records began in 1991, according to industry body Nielsen Soundscan. The music industry body discovered that the first six months of 2012 saw 76.6 million "catalog" records (those albums released more than 18 months ago) sold, compared to 73.9 million current releases. The top selling catalog records were Guns N' Roses' Greatest Hits and four albums from recently deceased Whitney Houston.
A number of reasons have been given for the trend, with the price drop of older albums, the increasing popularity of digital sales and the high cost of new releases being credited for the fact that older albums are more popular than their newer varieties.
Commenting in online publication Hypebot, Hisham Dahud speculated about the trend, writing:
"It is also likely that many consumers are repurchasing old records that they may have either lost or wanted to replace in digital format.
"And, as we saw with Whitney Houston and several others before her, the deaths of popular artists are certainly traceable to spikes in their record sales, which attributed highly to the sales of catalog records during the first six months of 2012."
The trend highlights the need for shops, pubs and bars to provide customers with a selection of background music that features a wide variety of tracks, rather than just the newer releases. While new records are very popular, there will always be a demand for background music systems to feature classic tracks.
Contact the Soundnet team for more information relating to pub and restaurant background music systems.
The rising popularity of cocktails across the country means that the spirits category is now worth £5 billion in pubs and clubs and £4 billion in hotels and restaurants. The growing cocktail consumption in the UK has been attributed to a growing shift in consumer behaviours, as well as an increasingly diverse market.
Here at Soundnet, we're aware that the on-trade market is becoming more assorted and our background music systems for pubs and clubs are designed to reflect this increasing polarisation; offering restaurants and bars the opportunity to play tracks specifically suited to their demographic. The below video highlights how our background music systems work:
The Soundnet background music system is easy installed to existing PC hardware and offers bar and pub owners the ability to manage a soundtrack tailored for their audience. The team here work tirelessly to research and compile a playlist which is designed to appeal to your demographic, whether they're glamour girls on a night out or couples looking for a romantic evening in their favourite restaurant. The system features all the latest music releases and initial instillation is completely free.
Find more about our background music systems for pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels, here.
This week, the Soundnet background music team came across an interesting piece on The Guardian music blog; an article asking readers to share their favourite tracks with a connection to beer and alcohol. The piece, which you can read here, highlighted the rich and diverse collection of music dedicated to beer.
"Plenty of music has been made under the influence of beer – not always to the enhancement of listening pleasure. But we're looking for songs that are actually about beer, or at least mention it," John Dennis, a journalist at the paper, wrote.
Songs featured in the article included 'One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer,' by John Lee Hooker, 'Roll Out the Barrel', from The Lurkers and 'Donegal Express', from The Popes. Meanwhile, readers in the comments section of the piece suggested tracks from ZZ Top, I Am Kloot and Tom Waits. At the time of writing, over 18 pages of user suggestions have been submitted to the website.
Beer and music have a very strong relationship and we've previously written about how a rich and diverse collection of background music can influence the atmosphere of a pub or bar. A good playlist gives landlords and owners the opportunity to create the perfect ambiance for their customers, giving them an ability to build the ideal environment with which to attract the best clientele for the establishment. And a good atmosphere is crucial for creating a venue that people want to spend time in.
Indeed, a recent study from Mintel discovered that the majority of Britons enjoyed drinking in their local pub, compared to at home, because of the atmosphere and community spirit.
Contact one of the Soundnet team to discover more about our bar and pub background music systems.
The first winner of our Summer of Sport digital jukebox competition has been announced, with Debra Seaton from Blackpool claiming the first iPad prize of the contest.
The Summer of Sport, a monthly competition which runs between June and August, gives digital jukebox players the opportunity to win one of three iPads over the summer period. Users have the chance to claim one of these luxury tablet computers by finding hidden codes amongst the millions of tracks available on Sound Leisure digital jukeboxes across the country.
The first winner of the Summer of Sport contest, Debra, claimed the prize in Orchid pub The Boar's Head by successfully uncovering Bon Jovi's classic 'Livin' on a Prayer' as June's secret song. Debra claims a free Apple iPad as her prize, having entered the competition on a Sound Leisure Browser video jukebox.
The Summer of Sport competition runs across approximately 6,000 digital jukeboxes across the country. The contest is available on the popular Milestones in Music package and was designed to celebrate the fantastic number of sporting events taking place over the UK summer.
The Milestones in Music package boasts all recently released tracks, as well as every Top 40 songs from the last 60 years. The package, which reaps high earnings for pubs and bars across the country, was launched in 2006, contains up to 30,000 tracks, with approximately 200 new songs added to the digital jukebox each month.
To find more about the Summer of Sport contest, or to ask about our digital jukebox packages, contact one of the Soundnet team today.
Background music in restaurants, bars, shops and hotels can help to increase staff and customer morale according to a new study from music licensing organisation PPL and PRS for Music.
The study discovered that 81 per cent of retail businesses said that playing music in the workplace helped improve staff efficiency, while simultaneously creating a better atmosphere for customers.
The study, which investigated the background music policy of 1,088 small and medium enterprise owners, discovered that 71 per cent of employers found that the presence of background music made employees more productive. Meanwhile, over half of those companies surveyed in the survey felt music also increased sales and results for the organisation in question. The study also discovered that 86 per cent of businesses felt a background music system could help avoid tension and awkward silences for staff and consumers alike.
Speaking about the survey, Christine Geissmar, director of operations at PPL, commented:
"We know that playing music has huge benefits and we are keen for as many business owners as possible to understand how cost effective and beneficial playing music can be. We are encouraging businesses to find out more about how they can enjoy the benefits of music while being legally compliant."
The study highlights the importance of a background music system in the workplace, although the research can also be applied to those businesses in the entertainment and service industry. Background music in a pub, restaurant and hotel shapes an atmosphere; using an instore soundtrack can create the perfect ambiance for the venue in question and it has the ability to create a better atmosphere for customers and staff alike.
Contact a member of the Soundnet team to find more about our background music packages.
The Prodigy, Radiohead and Underworld are all set to feature in the Olympics 2012 opening ceremony, according to The Sun, which got its hands on an apparent playlist earlier this week. If the leaked tracklist is confirmed as genuine, the opening ceremony, organised by Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, will feature music from the above bands, as well as Iggy Pop, Primal Scream, Blur and Pulp. Classical pieces for the concert include The Eton Boating Song, Land of Hope and Glory and Music for the Royal Fireworks.
Commenting on the apparent list, Gordon Smart, Showbiz Editor for The Sun, wrote:
"Olympic officials won’t confirm that a leaked 86-track playlist will be the musical accompaniment to the Olympic Games opening ceremony — but it smacks of the genius of Danny Boyle and it’s the absolute essence of British music.
"It makes sense that an eclectic mix would be the hallmark of Boyle’s opening ceremony and the set he is planning will include a Glastonbury-style “mosh pit."
Here at Soundnet, we can only speculate on the different pieces of music to have made it into Boyle's opening ceremony. Indeed, there are a number of popular tracks from our digital jukeboxes that surely deserve a place in the £27 million ceremony.
Still, while the grand opening of the Olympics is still some weeks ago, Soundnet digital jukebox customers can get into the spirit of things with our fantastic Summer of Sport competition, an innovative contest which sees venues and their customers compete to win a range of fantastic prizes, including an Apple iPad. The competition, which you can read more about here, offers players the opportunity to enter in to win an iPad by locating 'secret' sports songs across our digital jukeboxes.
Let the summer of sport begin.
Last week, the prestigious rock festival Download celebrated its 10th year. The weekend event, which sees 105,000 revellers travel to Donnington Park in Leicestershire, has been running since 2003, offering heavy metal fans the chance to see some of the biggest legends in rock.
This year, Download Festival played host to a number of high-profile bands and acts in 2012 included The Prodigy, Slash, Metallica and Black Sabbath. As you'd expect, the festival is exceptionally popular with fans of the genre (the Twitter profile of the event has over 14,000 followers) and its continuing success have led to organisers considering hosting identical events across Europe.
Speaking to Musicweek, Andy Copping, the man responsible for booking the 148 acts for Download, offers an interesting perspective on the mentality of the crowd at the festival.
"Download isn’t about knuckle-dragging bikers – a real cross-section of people come here. Rock isn’t a dirty word. The atmosphere and the vibe at Download are wonderful – so if you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it."
The popularity of Download Festival highlights the consistent popularity of the rock and metal genre. Indeed, at Soundnet, we're aware of the durability of the genre and cater for this very audience with our digital rock box package. This digital jukebox provides audiences with the latest tracks from the rock, indie and alternative universe and a number of the bands featured at this year's Download festival can be found on the package.
And while the Soundnet Rockbox digital jukebox package won't be suitable for all in-store music selections, it's the perfect choice for venues who want to cater to a very distinctive audience. Contact one of the Soundnet team today to discover more about this digital jukebox option.
Over 70 million extra pints of beer were thought to have been ordered over the Jubilee Weekend, according to initial figures from The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA). It was also estimated that an extra 7.5 million pub meals had also been sold over the four-day weekend celebrating The Queen's sixty-year reign on the throne.
Speaking last week, BBPA chief executive Brigit Simmonds commented:
"Here’s to a great Jubilee weekend for Britain’s pubs. When it comes to celebrating a great occasion, beer and pubs have so much to offer that says something special about being British. With so many great Jubilee beers on sale, I hope people visit their local to raise a glass to the Queen."
The additional beer sales should not come as a surprise to those working in the trade industry. Indeed, The Queen's Jubilee was predicted to have produced an extra £509 million across dozens of different markets. Retail shopping, souvenirs and tourism are thought to have been the key beneficiaries of the four-day holiday.
But while the rise in beer sales will have been good news for pubs and bars across the country, we in the background music industry have been advising landlords on how to convert this additional custom in a regular revenue stream. Indeed, while many made an irregular visit to their local for the four-day weekend, many venues will be keen to see these additional customers make a return to the bar in the coming weeks and months (particularly with The Olympics and Euro 2012 around the corner).
Regardless of the event, pub customers want to be able to enjoy their leisure time in a relaxing atmosphere. A background music system geared towards the tastes of the venue consumers is the perfect tool for ensuring patrons have a comfortable experience in their local. It creates a welcoming atmosphere and makes one-off consumers much more likely to return to the venue in the future, regardless of any pomp and circumstance surrounding their visit.
Here at Soundnet, we're constantly researching into the ways we can provide clients with a more engaging service; how background music systems can deliver a more entertaining experience for the clientele who frequent our customer's venues. A large proportion of this task is keeping abreast of the latest consumer trends, particularly focusing on how music can influence purchasing behaviour and customer psychology.
So, it was with some interest that we came across this piece from NME; an article which investigated the different factors that contributed to a background music song being trapped in the space between the ears. The piece focuses on the various reasons why a track gets stuck in someone's memory, quoting from a piece of innovative research by Dr. Vicky Williamson, a psychologist and memory expert at Goldsmith's College in London.
The article describes a range of explanations behind an 'earworm', ranging from prolonged exposure to a certain track, stress, involuntary memory recollection and evolution. Speaking to NME, Dr. Williamson commented:
"Music is multi-sensory stimulus. It’s connected to personal memories. Emotional states. There can be a tactile representation, music can be associated with lots of things. It’s emotional and personal. And music has a special way of embedding itself deeply in your memory.
So you remember the melody of a song you heard 40 years ago, but you can't remember the name of someone you met last week."
Indeed, music can affect people differently; evoking memories, rekindling feelings and producing memories in a variety of different was. At Soundnet, we're delighted with our reputation for providing our background music system customers with a constantly changing set of tracks and artists, varying from the latest releases to a range of classic hits and we're proud that our background music packages for pubs and restaurants offer such a huge variety of music, regardless of the customer.
A new piece of research has found that a third of Britons think it is important to have a pub close to their home, believing a vibrant local is a sign of a close-knit community. The findings, taken from an investigation by market research company Mintel, discovered that 33 per cent of the United Kingdom believes that it's essential to have a good pub nearby, even if they choose not to visit it on a regular basis.
Speaking about the research, a representative from Mintel commented:
"It is almost as if a pub is a bit of a status symbol for a community, even if they don’t use it much they want to know that they have the option to do so if they wish."
The investigation, which was featured in The Sunday Telegraph, also discovered that twice as many people find it more enjoyable drinking in a pub, compared to drinking at home. This finding was attributed to the vibrant atmosphere and community spirit of a pub.
Here at Soundnet, we've always been confident that a good atmosphere is an integral part of the customer's experience. Our pub background music systems have helped contribute to the ambiance of some of the UK's greatest pubs, giving landlords the opportunity to create an atmosphere which is tailored towards their audience. The report from Mintel confirms our belief that consumers value their local pub because it provides them with a welcoming and relaxing environment in which to enjoy themselves.
But, it's not just pubs that can benefit from a particular atmosphere; our background music systems have been used in restaurants, bars, spas and hotels, each one tailored to suit the particular clientele of the venue in question.
Contact one of the Soundnet team today to discover more about our background music systems and the benefits they can bring to your business.
The deadline for the 2012 Great British Pub Awards comes to a close on Friday 25th May. The prestigious event, which honours the best pubs in the United Kingdom, has a comprehensive list of categories. Indeed, the awards up for grabs range from 'Best Food Pub' and 'Best Managed Pub' to 'Best Spirits Pub' and 'Best Entertainment Pub'.
Here at Soundnet, we're interested in the venues eventually shortlisted in the 'Best Entertainment Pub' award, an accolade we hope to see some of our clientele nominated for. We're proud to provide the entertainment for pubs across the United Kingdom and we'd be overjoyed if one of our pub background music systems contributed to a nomination for one of our customers.
For those curious about the pub judging process, successful applications will be contacted by the judging panel and an on-site visit by the 'on-the-road' judging team will be arranged. Lucky pubs will also be invited to the awards night on Thursday September 13 at The Hilton, Park Lane, in London.
We've spoken at length about how a background music system in a pub can help create the perfect atmosphere, but a background music system can also be an entertainment centre; providing drinkers with an entertaining pastime and influencing the mood and tone of a venue. Indeed, we have a number of different background music packages designed to create the perfect vibe in a bar, pub or restaurant.
A Soundnet background music system can provide pub customers with a complete music entertainment experience. Our background music packages offer the perfect blend of modern and classic tracks, giving venues the perfect opportunity to create the best impression. Perfect for if a panel of pub judges comes calling.
With only 78 days to go until the start of the London 2012 Olympics, we've been eagerly anticipating news on which British acts will be taking part in the opening ceremony for the event on July 27. But, while details on the performances during the event itself are still a closely guarded secret, information has been released regarding a special concert, due to take place on the same day of the beginning of the Olympics.
The special Olympics concert, which will be hosted in Hyde Park, will feature a number of bands, each designed to represent a country within the United Kingdom. Duran Duran, Snow Patrol, Paolo Nutini and Sterephonics are playing on behalf of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, respectively.
"Performing to so many people on the most exciting day in sport will be one of the highlights of the last decade for us," said Simon Le Bon, lead singer of Duran Duran. "We have been invited to represent England for this show, and we couldn't be more proud. Seeing the torch being lit on the big screens before hitting the stage in this iconic location will be a great experience."
Here at Soundnet, we believe that the Olympics concert should have featured both Coldplay and Adele; both are the biggest acts in the world right now. The news that Duran Duran are representing our country, particularly when the aforementioned acts are so popular, raised a few eyebrows in the Soundnet office.
In other Olympics-related music news, it has also been revealed that Blur, New Order and The Specials will be headlining a gig celebrating the end of the games on 12 August.
Although news of the acts performing at the actual opening ceremony have been kept under wraps, the background music team at Soundnet have a few ideas for Danny Boyle, creative organiser behind the event. Here are just three of our suggestions:
The Spice Girls
The iconic girl group are background music favourite in pubs across the country. Victoria Beckham's sporting ties and Gerri Halliwell's Union Jack dress make the band the perfect act for the ceremony.
The legendary Welsh singer has been enjoying a comeback of late with BBC's The Voice. A spot at the Olympic ceremony wouldn't be too hard to imagine for this popular artist.
Arguably Northern Ireland's finest act, Van Morrison would be the perfect representative for the Olympics ceremony. 'Brown Eyed Girl' and 'Moondance'; are still popular background music choices for customers in bars and pubs throughout the UK.
The background music team at Soundnet were very excited to hear that the record collection of John Peel, radio DJ and iconic music legend, is being made available to the general public in an interactive online museum.
Access to the record collection, which includes 25,000 LPs and 40,000 singles, has been granted by Peel's family and will appear alphabetical order on thespace.org over the following months. At present, music lovers can listen to tracks featured in the A-B section, including A.C.D.C, Adam and the Ants and the B-52s.
Over the course of the next six months, music lovers will be able to get a glimpse into the record collection of one of the pioneers of new music and we're very interested to see what other gems will be revealed.
Speaking about the release of the record collection, Feargal Sharkey, lead singer of The Undertones, commented:
"John Peel had the most complete, intricate, knowledgeable and experienced record collection anybody in this country has ever put together.
"I’m absolutely delighted it’s intact, preserved and now it’s going to be available to everybody around the world. I think John would be quietly pleased by this."
Of course, there are a number of songs which will be forever associated with John Peel. His love of The Undertones, Don French and The Quads was well-documented and Peel's reputation for making new bands famous was legendary. Here are just some of the tracks we expect to see in Peel's record collection over the next few months. For the record, our favourite track would be The Fall with 'This Nation's Saving Grace':
'Ever Fallen in Love' is a favourite track for our background music customers in pubs and bars across the country. Peel was a renowned fan of the band, so we can be certain of seeing a few Buzzcocks tracks over the next few months.
The White Stripes
The documentary, John Peel's Record Box, discovered a number of tracks from The White Stripes in his collection of favourite music. Out of 130 singles, the Detroit rock band was featured on 11 separate occasions.
Peel's favourite single was widely known to be 'Teenage Kicks' by The Undertones. Indeed, Peel requested to have the lyrics inscribed on his gravestone.
A popular band with our background music customers, Peel included three Beatles' tracks in his favourite music collection, including 'Come Together' and 'Something'.
Peel's favourite record collection included two tracks from The Quo; 'Down Down' and 'Night Ride'. There's a good chance we'll be seeing an appearance from the long-running UK group over the next few months.
The Soundnet 'Milestones in Music' package is one of the most popular choices for our loyal band of subscribers. The selection, which includes every top 40 chart hit since records began, is available on Soundnet digital jukeboxes across the country; it's one of the most popular collections for the nation's musical lovers.
Being the curious cats that we are, we asked the Soundnet team to tell us their favourite track from the Milestones in Music package. Here's what they came up with:
"I'm a huge fan of Coldplay. Given the choice, I'd put on 'The Scientist' or 'Talk'. They're both brilliant songs; they remind me of my time at university."
'The Scientist' was released in 2002 and reached position 10 in the charts. 'Talk' was released in 2005 and reached the same chart position.
"I would have to say 'Love will tear us apart' by Joy Division. It's one of the most iconic songs and its continuing popularity – ranked as the best single of all time by NME in 2002 – just demonstrates what a brilliant track it really is."
'Love will tear us apart' was released in 1980 and charted at number 13 in the United Kingdom.
"'I bet you look good on the dancefloor' was the first single for the Arctic Monkeys and it's still their best effort to date. It's a great little number and well worth a listen."M
'I bet you look good on the dancefloor' was released in October, 2005. It peaked at the number one spot.
"Even though Gareth Gates tried to destroy my goodwill towards the song, Elvis' 'Suspicious minds' is my favourite track. It's a perfect song, with a quick tempo and great lyrics. Brilliant stuff."
'Suspicious minds' was released in 1969. It reached the number two spot in the UK.
So, a wide-range of opinions from the Soundnet team. It just goes to show that, whatever the age, we all have a different taste in music. It's a good job that that there are so many different songs on offer in our digital jukeboxes then.
With music fans' buying habits changing dramatically over the past few years you might assume that home insurance would cover downloaded songs as standard – but you'd be wrong. According to Which? around a third of home insurance providers don't cover downloads as part of their standard policies, meaning that in the event of an accident any downloaded songs would be lost without the possibility of compensation. As Britain's music industry moves ever further towards a download culture, with over 100 million tracks already being downloaded per year, this may come as a surprise for some consumers.
Anyone who frequently downloads, therefore, is advised to check their policy and ensure that their downloaded are covered by their current deal, or if not to look into a policy which does cover them. Insurers such as Direct Line and Privilege offer up to £1,000 worth of cover for downloads, with Hiscox' cover extending up to £2,500. Which? also advise heavy downloaders to invest in an external hard drive to act as a backup should anything go wrong with their PC – at least that way a bug in the system won't leave their record collection in the recycle bin.
V For Vendetta was a thoughtful, chilling and stylish look at a dark vision of the future where totalitarianism reigns supreme and censorship is the order of the day. One of the most exciting of all mediums has always been music, so it's no surprise to learn that one of the things the regime has clamped down on in this fiendish future is songs which aren't in line with their vision of the world.
The film's leading man, the mysterious and disfigured V, has one melodic weapon in his fight against oppression – a Wurlitzer which he's manage to get back from The Ministry Of Objectionable Materials. The presence of this iconic and exciting contraband helps to highlight what a world without freedom might look like, and the lengths people will go to save themselves from the death of self-expression.
The jukebox in the movie has a grand total of 872 blacklisted tracks, including I Found A Reason by avant garde rockers The Velvet Underground, Julie London's version of Cry Me A River and Bird Girl by arty chamber poppers Anthony And The Johnsons. Further proof of the freedom music gives us, and the lengths people will go to to keep it alive
Tom Cruise's high flying antics in Top Gun saw it become one of the most popular and talked about films of the 80s, but it proved more than the fact that sunglasses and camaraderie never go out of fashion. Tom played Pete Maverick Mitchell, a cocky pilot who has to overcome a major crisis of confidence following a tragic accident during training which sees his best friend Goose killed.
It's not just jet streams that catch Maverick's attention, however – his female instructor Charlie quickly becomes the object of his affection. His attempts to win her heart with a rendition of the classic Righteous Brothers song You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling doesn't quite work out as planned, with Charlie less than bowled over. At the film's close however, in the famous bar scene, the same song is played on a jukebox and brings back the memories of the pair's romance, providing the perfect soundtrack to a touching reunion. Proof that songs can be powerful tools for memory, and that some music never goes out of fashion, this scene's the stuff of movie legend.
This February will see a new, improved BRIT Awards at London's O2 Arena, and the nominations have been announced for the overhauled celebration of British music. To get you in the mood, why not have a listen to the key tracks from the contenders for British Album Of The Year:
Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More
The folk-influenced Mumford & Sons have become unlikely superstars, more hoe-down than hedonism, their album turned into a word-of-mouth sensation.
Must-hear: Awake My Soul
Plan B: The Defamation of Strickland Banks
Plan B's first album was an angry slice of Hip Hop, so his return as a suited and booted soul-singing star with proper pop star potential was a real surprise.
Must-hear: She Said
Take That: Progress
The reunited man band smashed records with their comeback as a five-piece, and it's set them up for their full-on tour in 2011/
Must-hear: The Flood
Tinie Tempah: Disc-Overy
Tinie Tempah's the new king of grime, and has the most nominations at this year's BRITs with an impressive four, including the biggie: best album.
Must-hear: Pass Out
The xx: xx
These dubstep-infused South Londoners may make gloomy, atmospheric music but had plenty to be cheery about in 2010, including a Mercury Music Prize win.
Despite the fact Mariah Carey's festive tune All I Want For Christmas Is You never actually made it to number one in the singles chart, it has topped a poll to find the decade's most played Christmas song. The poll was carried out by the PPL, the body behind collecting royalties for artists, and they discovered that Mariah pipped The Pogues' Fairytale Of New York and Wham!'s Last Christmas to the post as the most-played festive ditty. Like the Mariah Carey song, both The Pogues and Wham!'s efforts also stalled at number two in the charts when released as singles.
Mariah's anthem was released in 1994 and has since become a mainstay of radio and music channels' yuletide playlists, making it a bona fide modern classic. Its position at the top of the PPL poll means it's a must-have for any Christmas soundtrack, alongside older festive hits like Slade's Merry Xmas Everybody and Bing and Bowie's Little Drummer Boy. Make sure your venue is ready for the season with Soundnet's Christmas song package, and give your customers' Crimbo drinks or seasonal dos the perfect tinsel-tinged atmosphere.
With Christmas on its way, you might have noticed that your customers' tastes in background music have taken a turn for the unusual. Rather than flocking to the latest number one or a slice of classic rock 'n' roll, many will have developed a peculiar, annual love of songs about reindeer, Santa and all things tinsel-based. Luckily, music's back catalogue is jam-packed with festive songs guaranteed to get the seasonal spirit, and spirits, flowing and ensure that even the biggest Christmas fan has plenty to drink mulled wine to.
From the sing-along classics from glam rockers like Slade and Wizzard, to novelty tunes you can only get away with when people have had a few too many eggnogs (Mr Blobby, we're looking at you) to the classier end of the scale, with perennial favourites like Nat King Cole and Judy Garland, music has a very close-knit relationship with yuletide. Whether your vote goes to The Pogues or Bowie and Bing for best Christmas tune, there's nothing as certain to get you in the festive spirit as the right sleigh-bell laden soundtrack. So from Coldplay's new attempt at cornering the Christmas market to the favourites which have been a fixture of the season for decades, Soundnet offers all the hits you'll need to ring in the holidays in style.
The entertainment juggernaut that is X Factor came to a glittery conclusion this weekend, but, despite huge ratings and acres of press coverage, Matt Cardle will be forgiven for being a little on edge about his chart-topping prospects for one reason: last year's Facebook campaign. In previous years the X Factor winner was guaranteed the festive number one, but a highly-orchestrated online campaign in 2009 saw Joe McElderry's cover of The Climb pipped to the top by Rage Against The Machine's swear-packed classic, Killing In The Name.
This year the Internet tricksters are trying to provide another demonstration of people power, and the 'song' of choice is avant-garde composer John Cage's infamous 4'33 – a performance piece in which musicians don't play their instruments for four minutes, 33 seconds, and the ensuing silence is recorded. It doesn't look like Cage will join Rage at the top, however, with early figures showing that the re-recorded composition is unlikely to bother the top 20, despite featuring the likes of Billy Bragg, and members of The Kooks and Madness. Matt Cardle's clear bookies' favourite with his version of Many Of Horror by rockers Biffy Clyro – cunningly Cardle-ised under the new title When We Collide.
The Beatles' songs are now all available for download on iTunes. And, just a couple of days after release, they're already starting to fill up iTunes' chart.
One of the reason for the long delay in the band's back catalogue being offered in this way was a question as to whether downloaders should be allowed to take the songs out of the context of their albums. In the end, all The Beatles' songs have been made available for individual download. Having been the band who pioneered the art of the album, with seminal works like Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, there was always a concern from the guardians of the Fab Four's estate that their art would suffer if cut up into individual songs.
Does hearing Good Day Sunshine on its own, rather than as part of Revolver, lessen the experience, or will a new bite-sized Beatles attract a new generation of iPod-happy fans to sample the delights of their peerless songwriting?
Early favourites in the download stakes include Hey Jude, Twist And Shout and Let It Be – it looks like The Beatles may be about to take over the charts all over again...
Not for the first time in his career, Detroit rapper Eminem is courting controversy. The video for his new single Love The Way You Lie has been causing debate and argument among bloggers and music fans over its depiction of domestic violence. The subject matter is close to Eminem's own heart, and to his guest vocalist Rihanna's, both of whom have been involved in very public abusive relationships.
Starring Hollywood pin-up Megan Fox and Brit actor Dominic Monaghan as a fiery couple, the aggression they show each other has prompted some critics to slam the video as glamorising domestic violence, including Entertainment Weekly in the States which wrote "All the rage and beatings are lit in a very dramatic and sexy way, because the people doing the raging and beating are very lithe and muscular and gorgeous."
Scenes which have proved particularly devisive include Monaghan punching dry-wall, inches from Fox, and the passionate kisses which follow incidents of violence and rage. The lyrics are also creating a stir, with lines like "I laid hands on her, I'll never stoop so low again/I guess I don't know my own strength" coming under extreme scrutiny.
The video is certainly edgy, and the subject matter horrific, but the decision from both the artists to create something about destructive relationships seems like a brave move, and anything that brings this often hidden issue into a public forum can only be a good thing. As for glamorising violence – you'll have to judge for yourself by watching the video.
Their back-story was pure tabloid-fodder, with burglaries, rehab, prison and more break-ups than Deirdre and Ken Barlow, but The Libertines are finally letting by-gones be by-gones and reuniting for this year's Leeds and Reading Festivals. Whether it's the allure of showcasing their back catalogue again, or the reported £1million pay-cheque, there are bound to be fireworks when they take to the stage. Not to mention pandemonium beforehand.
The band's announcement of a one-off warm-up show at London' HMV Forum in Kentish Town set off a virtual scramble for tickets. Their release via a strict ballot system, to prevent touting, hasn't prevented some of the ticket codes being offered on eBay, with bids of up to £20,000 attracting almost as many column inches as the band's antics. But what was so special about this often shambolic band, to inspire such dedication?
Simply put, they were a breath of off-the-cuff, rock 'n' roll fresh air in a stale British music scene, dominated by cosy guitar bands peddling Britpop-lite at the beginning of the Millennium. Owing as much of a debt to Chas 'N' Dave as The Strokes, Pete Doherty and Carl Barat's quintessentially English lyrics, ramshackle arrangements and openness created a social community around the band, fuelled by impromptu intimate gigs announced on fan forums, some of which took place at the duo's own flat. Whether a big-money reunion in a field of thousands is the best way to showcase their punk-skiffle sound remains to be seen, but it's bound to be another fascinating chapter in The Libertines' saga.
Soundnet's jukebox must-hears: Can't Stand Me Now, The Good Old Days, Time For Heroes.
Amy Winehouse’s long-awaited follow up to 2006’s hugely successful Back To Black is finally on its way, with an expected release in January 2011. Amy’s going back to the influences which made her last album a huge success, telling journalists her forthcoming release will be "another jukebox album".
This has given fans and critics reason to hope for more hits like Rehab and Tears Dry On Their Own, recalling the glory days of Motown and darker 60s Soul. Here’s our look at some of the influences we can expect to hear on Amy’s third album:
One of the undoubted queens of soul, Etta had the voice and the diva attitude on show in Amy, not to mention her fair share of demons, including a substance abuse problem.
Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: At Last
The Ska kings have recently reunited and Amy’s been known to cover their version of Toots and the Maytals’ Monkey Man in her live shows. Expect a bit of sun-kissed Ska on the new LP: a hangover from her months in St Lucia.
Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: Too Much, Too Young
Another troubled music star, Spector produced some of the greatest pop songs of all time, masterminding the Ronettes and a whole host of other girl bands whose influence is evident on Back To Black.
Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: Be My Baby
The Motown sound defined young American pop in the 60s, and from the sample of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough on Back To Black, to Mark Ronson’s love of brass, Motown’s never too far from Amy’s mind.
Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: Heard It Through The Grapevine
Amy’s new album will be available on Soundnet’s digital jukeboxes in the New Year
Exile On Main Street by The Rolling Stones is one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most celebrated records, but even 38 years on from its release it’s surprising people – including the Stones themselves.
To celebrate Record Day the Stones brought out some new (or should that be old) material – a rare off-cut from the Exile sessions called Plundered My Soul which the band only rediscovered while preparing a remastered version of their seminal record due for release later this summer.
The only thing that wasn’t a shock was the quality of the song, recorded as it was when the Stones were at the height of their powers. It’s a bluesy number, with Keith in groovy form and Mick in fine voice.
There’s more good news on the way for Stones fans too – the upcoming remaster will have a further three new tracks from the sessions, and if they’re as good as Plundered My Soul we could find the hottest record in the country was recorded three decades ago.
Make sure you’re fully stocked with Stones and other classic rock ‘n’ roll with Soundnet’s MIM or Rockbox packages, and enjoy pre-releases, including the remaster, at the same time as radio stations and MTV.
Colombia might not have qualified for this year’s World Cup in South Africa, but they’ll still be represented at the showpiece tournament thanks to their most famous singing export – Shakira.
She’s been picked to provide the official song for the tournament, alongside South Africa’s Freshlyground, and with football in the blood in Colombia we’ve no doubt she’ll be up to the task.
The Hips Don’t Lie star has teamed up with the Afro-fusion band from Cape Town to record the track called Time For Africa, which is available for download from 26 April. She’ll perform it live with the band at the World Cup’s opening ceremony in Soweto on the 10th of June, in front of a global audience of billions. She’ll reprise it before the final on July 11 (hopefully in front of a stadium full of England fans).
Let’s hope Shakira doesn’t pull a Diana Ross at the US 1994 opening ceremony and miss a penalty from close-range – that moment’s still one of my favourite footy gaffs.
Get your venue in the mood for the World Cup with the track, and a whole host of other football themed songs in Soundnet’s bespoke football package.
The brains behind LCD Soundsystem, and DFA Records, James Murphy might seem like one of the coolest men in music but according to himself he’s well out of fashion, and so is the album format as a whole.
Murphy reckons that the forthcoming, keenly awaited, new album from LCD Soundsystem is definitely going to be their last as the process of making an album is ‘anachronistic’. ‘This Is Happening’ is likely to be found at the top of most critics’ end of 2010 lists, especially if the first single ‘Drunk Girls’ is anything to go by, so maybe Murphy’ll have a change of heart.
I don’t agree with Murphy – people might be buying music differently now but there’s still room for the album. Singles are more important than ever, thanks to downloads and the shuffle function, but there’s still life in the long player – just look at how many units Kings of Leon’s last one shifted, for one thing.
Singles are all about the perfect three minutes, but a band’s reputation stands or falls on its ability to entertain over 10 or 12 songs, and I don’t see that changing for a good while.
Make sure you’re fully stocked with the new LCD Soundsystem record and other forward-thinking rock singles and albums with Soundnet.
It isn’t just tourists, or our own James Luck, who were grounded by the volcanic ash clouds last week. The glitzy US festival Coachella had a good few notable absentees thanks to the weather, with a host of British musicians unable to travel for their scheduled shows.
The fact Gary Numan couldn’t make the event is maybe the most ironic of all – he’s got a pilot’s license! Even under his own steam, however, the Cars star was no match for the dust – and neither were fellow 80s icons Bernard Sumner or Johnny Marr.
Former New Order frontman Sumner has a new band, Bad Lieutenant, but they had to cancel their big US show. Marr meanwhile, currently lending his jangly chords to Wakefield’s Cribs, was stuck in Blighty. It’s almost as if the skies have no respect for our indie heroes – don’t they realise he was in The Smiths...?
If you want to create a festival feeling without the need for mud or long queues for the toilet it’s simple – just load up your digital jukebox with Soundnet’s MIM or Rockbox package and experience all the hits with the added bonus of having a comfy seat and no risk of rain.
Once they were the perma-grinning Britpoppers putting out 90s classics like Alright and Sun Hits The Sky, but after 17 years Supergrass have decided it’s time to go their separate ways.
It might be the oldest one in the rock ‘n’ roll book of break-ups, but once again it’s musical differences to blame for the band’s decision to part ways. Having recently developed a love of garage-rock with their spin-off Hot Rats project it looks like the some of the Oxfordshire boys are looking to keep up the experimenting.
Fans of the band needn’t despair – it’s not like they won’t get to say goodbye. Supergrass were quick to announce a four-date farewell tour, taking in Manchester, Glasgow, London and Paris, to say thanks for the memories and give their impressive back catalogue a final airing.
With Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey having already released their side-project, under the gaze of Radiohead cohort Nigel Godrich, it looks like there’ll be more to come to fill the gap left by the band’s demise.
Make sure you’re stocked with the band’s biggest hits to give them a proper send-off – they’re all available from Soundnet.
The Drums, one of the most hotly tipped new guitar bands around, have had a change of heart and announced that their song Let’s Go Surfing will be on their album when it’s released this summer after all.
Sounding like Joy Division with surf guitars the song helped create much of the buzz around the Brooklyn band, who count Morrissey among their growing list of fans, when it hit playlists last year.
Having initially felt the song wouldn’t fit on their self-titled debut album, due out in the UK in July, the band have given in to pressure from their disappointed fans and reinstated it, comparing its absence to seeing a band live and them refusing to play the song that got you into them to start with.
It just goes to show how important a debut album still is, setting a band’s stall out and creating the mythology – so even if every Drums fan already has the single they still want to see the band’s signature tune make it to the LP.
For hot new singles and pre-releases make sure you’re up to speed with Soundnet, and have the tracks everyone’s talking about available before they’re even in the shops.
It seems like only yesterday Susan Boyle surprised the judges on Britain’s Got Talent with her unexpected rendition of I Dreamed A Dream, but now after all the column inches, YouTube hits and controversy she’s finally got her first big payday – and she’d be forgiven for thinking she really is dreaming!
Simon Cowell’s not known for splashing the cash around too often but SuBo’s 49th birthday was one to remember – she got a cheque from him for the £4million owed to her. Made up of royalties from her debut album, which has sold over 8 million copies to date, and her lucrative performances overseas, the bumper cheque is testament to her unlikely superstar status.
Boyle’s plans for the money seem fairly modest by comparison to some of her diva-ish counterparts – a bigger home in her native West Lothian is number one priority with rumours of her moving to the Smoke proving to be unfounded.
It’s great to see someone come from nowhere to enjoy such success, here and abroad, and it proves that talent will always shine through. With an apparent hook-up with Rage Against The Machine and Snoop Dogg to come this year SuBo’s star is still on the rise – let’s just hope she doesn’t spend it all at once!