Consumers in control
With a keen eye on how people’s music tastes and habits are changing, Soundnet director, Simon Davis, explains how parent company TouchTunes’ commitment to R&D is helping shape the future of the jukebox ecosystem.
With smartphone use only becoming more and more central to many people’s lives, how important is it to integrate your music systems with apps and other mobile technology?
I think it’s absolutely essential. In the very near future customers will expect to control the music in the places they shop, they eat and they drink. They will be ordering and paying using their mobile so it is naïve in the extreme not to assume that the apps will also enable them to control their choice of music. The challenge that the in venue pay to play music sector has, is to make up the technology deficit which exists with the likes of Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music. Consumers now demand to be in control and much of that control comes courtesy of their phone. As a sector we simply cannot stand still, which is a challenge that has been taken up by the Playdium smart jukebox which Sound Leisure ourselves and TouchTunes launched in the UK at ACOS, earlier this year. TouchTunes’ CEO, Charles Goldstuck has gone on record as saying that R&D is part of the company DNA. One of the best examples of this commitment to R&D is the TouchTunes App which has been completely revamped on three occasions to ensure that it remains at the forefront of App design. It has been operating in North America for more than five years and is currently generating in excess of three million plays a week.
Are there any new kinds of venues where you feel jukeboxes and BGM systems would be a big success that you have not already explored?
I think the app will definitely open up new music opportunities. Why not have your music playing when you walk into a pub, why not get your friends to join in, in fact why not pre-book an hour of music in a pub which begins only when you and your friends walk in the door. I think that BGM gets a bad press due to poorly programmed music. The selection of songs to be played as background music needs to be well considered not only in terms of the style of the music but also a combination of both enough variety and a degree of familiarity to be appealing. Whilst technology is a game changer good programming also requires human judgement and insight.
How has the radical drop in sales of singles and albums and the rise of streaming services like Spotify altered the jukebox business?
As we’ve discussed on numerous occasions in the pages of Coinslot, the challenge is to be able to engage with the Spotify generation. It’s a fact that UK consumers are playing more music than ever. 73m songs per day were streamed in 2015, an 82% increase on 2014. In monetary terms, close to £150m was spent on paid streaming subscription services last year, up 70% on the figures for 2014. Rather than viewing this as an insurmountable challenge I prefer to see it as a vivid demonstration of the appetite that exists amongst the UK population to consume music. Playdium provides consumers with an unprecedented amount of choice with more than 1 million tracks to choose from. Being able to deliver choice and variety is key to success, failure to do so will undermine the relevancy of the jukebox experience.
How do you judge the right music profile on a jukebox for the right venue?
It’s important to spend time with both the Operator and the site to get an understanding of the environment and the customer profile, but the Playdium goes one stage better. Once it has been installed, it has the capacity to learn from the music that has been selected and intuitively highlight the songs, the artists and the search results that will be most relevant. These smart jukebox characteristics really improve the customer experience and stimulate the level of play, which, ultimately is what it is all about.