One of the limiting factors of jukebox revenue is visibility in the location. When jukeboxes are buried back by the bathroom, their revenue inevitably suffers. But it’s not always practical to put a jukebox in the best location to maximize revenue. Lots of things compete for wall space in a bar. One way to offset this is to hook up one or more televisions to the jukebox’s video output. Most modern digital internet jukeboxes have video outputs that mirror what’s on the screen. The best jukeboxes have HDMI outputs that generate a hi-quality promotional video stream designed for external monitors. And by hooking up one or more TV’s, other potential avenues for increasing profits are opened. For technical questions about how to hook up a jukebox to TV’s, no matter what model of jukebox, contact NSM’s technical support line for advice and guidance.
One of the best practices for maximizing jukebox revenue is reducing the sound volume on other music sources. Many locations have an alternate music source playing when nobody is using the jukebox. This keeps the location from going totally quiet, which can destroy the ambiance of any bar. However if background music volume is close to our equal to the paid music volume, it removes the incentive for customers (and employees) to play the jukebox. This is the often the biggest single factor at low-earning jukebox locations.
The most profitable bars carefully manage their background music volume. Ideally, volume for background music should be kept just high enough so bar patrons can barely make out the song. They know it’s there, but they cannot quite hear it enough to enjoy it. This is a subjective measure, and something that changes during various day-parts and days of the week. It requires training of employees who have access to volume controls for background music sources. But it can add thousands of dollars a year to a bar’s bottom line.
Most digital jukeboxes allow any background music source to be routed through the jukebox amplifier. This allows the jukebox to control the volume level of the background music as a percentage of the paid jukebox music volume. By adjusting the jukebox volume to meet the location requirements of any day-part, the bar staff is automatically adjusting the background music with it, keeping all volumes at their relative levels.
An exclusive feature of NSM digital internet jukeboxes is built in background music programs. Bar owners can customize playlists by genre, artist or even by selecting the exact songs they want to play. Different playlists can be assigned to different day-parts with a calendar, giving the bar owner total control over their background music, while maintaining legality. Some bar owners let their bar staff create these playlists so they get to listen to music they like during their shifts, removing the temptation of the employee to plug in a potentially illegal music source like Spotify.
Of course, the best way to maximize jukebox revenue is to eliminate any other music in the location. For bar owners that have not tried this, it is worth an experiment. Turn off the background music source for a week and see what happens. Do customers notice? Do they complain? How do employees react? And most of all, how much extra cash was in the jukebox that week?
The story below highlights why bars shouldn’t take the risk of using unlicensed music sources like Pandora and Spotify. While they might seem legal, they are only licensed for non-commercial use. Using them in a business is illegal. And the fines and legal fees to defend the lawsuits can drive you out of business. Use a legitimate, licensed digital music source, like an NSM jukebox, and not only eliminate fines but turn music into a profit center.
From TMZ – What do Sonny and Cher, Kansas, Michael Jackson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bono, Whitney Houston, Dolly Parton, The Beach Boys, Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga, Toby Keith, Jefferson Airplane, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Amy Winehouse, Weezer, The Rolling Stones, The Supremes, Bonnie Raitt, Otis Redding, Air Supply, Jimmy Buffett, Johnny Cash, Bob Seger and Fleetwood Mac have in common?
They’re all responsible for a bunch of small town bars possibly getting forced out of business for the capital offense of playing their songs.
Here’s the deal. BMI — the famous music licensing company — has filed lawsuits against 12 bars and restaurants around the country, claiming the establishments have been playing their songs without paying a licensing fee. And it gets a lot worse. For every BMI song that gets played on a bar jukebox or by a DJ without the proper fee being paid, BMI is entitled to $150,000 in damages. So “Love Child” could literally put a bar out of biz.
As for how BMI picked the places to sue — it appears to have been pretty random. Some of the targets are The Fox Hole in West Jordan, Utah, Mojo Main in Newark, Delaware, Whiskey River Ranch, (we think it’s in Springfield, Oregon), Whiskey Bones Roadhouse in Rochester, Minnesota, Kildare’s Irish Pub in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Pig ‘N’ Whistle in NYC.
BMI is obviously sending a message to hundreds of thousands of bars and restaurants across the US of A — playing “Free Bird” ain’t so free after all.
Newly added to our Featured tab is the soundtrack to Dave Grohl’s Sound City documentary. Grohl recorded the album Nevermind with his band Nirvana (maybe you’ve heard of them?) at the revered and infamous Sound City Studios in Los Angeles. It was a small, unassuming space in the San Fernando Valley amid rows of run down warehouses but managed to produce some of the best rock records of our time. For example, the Red Hot Chili Peppers put together their hugely successful One Hot Minute at Sound City. Apparently, it had a reputation for killer drum recordings so obviously Grohl was thrilled to record there. Artists like Fleetwood Mac, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, Bad Religion, Rick Springfield, Kyuss (A side project of Josh Homme, the frontman for Queens of the Stone Age, who recorded their self titled album at Sound City), Slipknot, and of course, Nirvana, all recorded their classic albums there.
Grohl decided to honor the memory of Sound City, which closed in 2011, after he purchased the studio’s custom analog console due to the closing. The documentary pays homage to the records that were made there, and the move of some of the gear into Grohl’s personal arsenal. Grohl was able to corral some of his famous buddies that have patronized the original Sound City Studio to record a soundtrack to the film with all new original music. Paul McCartney, Pat Smear, Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl debuted one of these songs at the televised Sandy Hook benefit concert at Madison Square Garden. All the songs on the soundtrack were recorded on Sound City’s analog equipment. I recommend “Mantra” with Trent Reznor, and anything featuring Josh Homme. And don’t forget about my girl Stevie Nicks!
In other music news, we have added a ton of new stuff this month! Some notable new releases are Band Perry and Daft Punk. If you’re a Queens of The Stone Age fan, check out the beefed up selection of Queens and Kyuss, who I mentioned earlier because they recorded at Sound City Studios. For our Latin fans, we added hundreds of new tracks for you, from Pesado to Prince Royce, to Alejandro Sanz, to Myriam Hernandez. All in all, we have over 4,000 new songs for your listening enjoyment.
Be flexible With Song Pricing
Bar owners know their customers better than anyone. After all, who spends more time in the bar than the owner? And they know what their customers should pay for music on the jukebox. But many amusement operators force locations into a fixed pricing scheme based upon the operator’s business needs. In the early days of digital jukebox deployment, amusement operators and manufacturers forced the increase in price per song from 3-4 plays for a dollar to 2-3 plays for a dollar, and as much as a dollar for a downloaded song. This naturally increased jukebox revenues dramatically, and many manufacturers crowed about how the digital jukebox revolution was increasing profits. But the reality is the revolution of the touchscreen and the ability to access an virtually unlimited library of music through the internet offset the psychological impact of the price increase.
Fast forward 10 years to today, and the novelty factor has worn off. Patrons have phones with more songs in them than any CD jukebox could hold. Even watches have touchscreens in them now. And people can buy a song on their phone for less than a dollar, and own it forever. A dollar to hear a song once in a bar could prove to be beyond the psychological price point a bar patron is willing to pay in 2013. The bar owner that is still using a pricing strategy from 2002 is missing out on an opportunity.
Digital jukeboxes allow for easy pricing flexibility, and some even offer day-parting. The successful bar owner is setting up different pricing schemes for different times of the day and different days of the week. If jukebox play is lower during lunch hours, why not drop the price during lunch to 4 plays for a dollar? Is Tuesday night the slowest night? Some creative bar owners are putting their jukebox on free play and promoting Free Jukebox Night, packing the house. And instead of giving away discounted drinks during happy hour, which just puts a bar in direct competition with every other bar on the block, why not make happy hour happier with free jukebox play?
Bar owners should talk to their amusement operator about what they are willing to do regarding pricing flexibility. And if they’re not willing to budge, the bar owner should consider if they are the right vendor. There are literally thousands of amusement operators in the US to choose from. Bar owners can even own their own digital jukebox today, which puts them in total control of their bar’s music.
At NSM Music, we pride ourselves on being responsive to our customers. We are a family-owned business, and we view our patrons more like family members than customers. We offer 24/7 support, which in most companies means they’ve employed an offshore call-center, but for us usually means one of our hard-working service staff, like Tom or Bob, has taken the cell phone home with them. When it comes to music, we pride ourselves on being responsive to customer requests. If the music is available, we always strive to add it to our network within 48 hours, and if it’s not we try to communicate why we can’t.
Which brings me to the subject of this post. We’ve always tried to be upfront about what music we offer and more importantly what music we don’t. While NSM has been around for 60 years, we are relatively young when it comes to building our digital music library in the US. That late start is due to our past partnership with a company called Ecast, upon who’s digital platform we relied upon from 2002 until just a couple of years ago, when they shut down their operations.
Building a licensed digital music library for the jukebox business is hard. I’ve written several blog posts on that subject that you can read here. But difficulty aside, there is a cost and time challenge as well.
Or chief competitors have more than a 10-year head start on us when it comes to building their music catalog. This means they’ve built the relationships, and just as importantly, have gained the scale necessary to license just about any act imaginable. While it might be hard to imagine in this digital age, some bands have held out from licensing their content to even the biggest and most ubiquitous digital platforms. There’s a huge list of bands that will not release their music on Spotify, which is currently the largest music platform in the world. Last year Adele held out her 20X platinum blockbuster, along with bands like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Rihanna, Billy Joel, Sheryl Crow, and Rush. Only last year did AC/DC and The Beatles show up on iTunes. 10-years after the beginning of the digital revolution, content providers are still trying to figure out how to best leverage the technology of the Internet.
It took Ecast 5 years before they were able to license Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, and many other well-known acts for digital jukeboxes. We are just entering year three, and we are way ahead of where any digital jukebox company was at this stage. We currently offer more than 3500 artists on our network. But I realize that might not be good enough for some customers. So I wanted to get the facts out there.
The main acts that are the most difficult to license, yet are frequently requested are: The Eagles, The Beatles, Tom Petty, Jimmy Buffet, Bob Seger, The Doors, Garth Brooks, and Neil Young. These 8 acts, and a handful of others, control their creative content, meaning any licensing must be done through the bands management and not the label. It’s very slow, and in some cases cost prohibitive for us to license these bands at this point in our company’s growth cycle. Some of these bands want 6-or even 7 figure advances (that’s a million dollars folks). TouchTunes, with more than 50,000 active jukebox locations, can afford to pay that because they generate a sufficient level of play on their network to recoup those advances. Unfortunately, NSM just isn’t there yet in the US. We are working hard every day to break down the walls and add these artists. We are in late stage negotiations with one of them right now. But the reality is, it’s quite possible we never get to the scale needed to justify licensing an act like The Beatles.
We currently offer 99.02% of the most popular artists on competing networks. Our value proposition is that in order to save 50-60% of your cash box, you give up that 1% of the catalog. Most bar owners come down on the side of increasing profits. But we recognize that not everyone is going to agree.
So if you own a bar, ask yourself this question: Are these 8 artists worth giving up 20% of your revenue off the top and then another 50-60% to your operator? If the answer is yes, then one of the other jukebox networks is probably the best fit for your business. But if you’re willing to trade a handful of bands for $5,000 or more in profit, we have a jukebox solution for you.
It’s too late now, and it’s probably been too late for a decade. Daft Punk, the French electronic duo who has dominated the press for the last month, will be wearing their robot suits for the rest of their lives. There will never be a reveal, a coming out, or a change of tone. Frat-trance superstar Deadmau5 has, for the most part, removed the cybernetic mouse head. KISS wrote Lick It Up and took off the face paint on MTV. But even now, when Homework is a 16-year-old album, Daft Punk will always be a gold helmet and a silver helmet.
Jukeboxes have been in bars since the 1940’s, but never have there been more promotional opportunities available to jukebox locations than there are today. The advent of the digital internet jukebox with a touchscreen opened up the world of digital media, internet content, advertising, local promotions, games, mobile interaction and all manner of additional revenue generating programs to the progressive bar owner.
While digital internet jukeboxes increased cashbox collections by 2-300% over CD jukeboxes in the early 2000’s, it’s really only the last few years that manufacturers and developers have begun pushing the envelope on what is possible with a digital internet jukebox. And while the tech is cool, jukeboxes don’t come with instructions on how to leverage the technology to fulfill the goal of every bar owner, which is increase profits.
So how does a bar owner increase not only their jukebox revenue, but their overall bottom line? In a series of weekly blog posts here, every Monday morning we will be unveiling Internet jukebox best practices gathered from years of experience talking to the best bar operators in the country. Don’t want to wait each week for the new post? You can download the white paper by signing up at the top of the page. Talk to you next week.
Jamie Brown, the owner of the 540 Club in San Francisco, has had great success using his jukebox for Theme Nights. In the old days he had his former digital jukebox supplier, Ecast, program a custom hard drive containing just the music he wanted played that night. Some popular themes were 80’s Night, Punk Rock Night, and Disco Night.
He would encourage his employees and customers to dress for the occasion, and it became an event that absolutely packed the house. This is something any bar owner can do once a month to turn a slow night into a full house.
With new software available, jukebox operators can block genres or set up custom playlists for a special theme night. And if the operator is not able or willing to customize the content library, maybe it’s time for the progressive bar owner to consider owning their own digital internet jukebox to take control of their entertainment while keeping the entire jukebox profits for their bottom line.
The Renowned American Classic The Great Gatsby is a hauntingly tragic saga filled with desire, greed, power, and most of all love. We all grew up reading this beautiful piece by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and have grown to appreciate the powerful emotions this book induces from its readers.
The novel was first transformed onto screen in 1926, and four times since then. The latest attempt was made by director Baz Luhrmann, who created a brilliant show of flamboyance and extravagance. However the movie wasn’t the only thing that was flamboyant; the new soundtrack of Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby was a complete surprise to its listeners when it released on May 7, 2013. The score and the soundtrack are usually an integral part of the filming process, but often overlooked by the audience as a memorable part of the film. But for The Great Gatsby, Luhrmann made sure that his film’s soundtrack is not overlooked!
Director Jack Clayton’s 1974 version of the Great Gatsby was filled with soft ballads that illustrated the love between the main characters Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan; as well as included Jazz and Ragtime Orchestra pieces, which were popular genres of the 1920’s.
Luhrmann on the other hand, used renowned artists like Jay-Z, Fergie, Florence + the Machine, and The xx to transcend the film into the 21st Century. He cleverly used Hip Hop, Rap and Dance Music to portray the celebration of the nouveau riche of the 1920’s. An example of the ingenuity can be seen in the remake of Beyonce’s hit Crazy in Love, which was performed by Emile Sande along with Brian Ferry Orchestra that incorporated Jazz into the track to unite the 1920’s with the 2000’s.
NSM Music has brought its customers the new Great Gatsby Soundtrack to experience firsthand the brilliance of Baz Luhrmann’s selection for his new movie. Select the Featured Tab on your Jukebox’s home screen to bring The Great Gatsby to life at your location today!