SAN FRANCISCO -- AMI Entertainment Network Inc. announced that it has become a secured creditor of Ecast. The announcement was made today by AMI president and chief executive Mike Maas during a press conference he hosted in California.
Ecast Inc. shut down its jukebox music network on March 1. Ecast's board of directors approved an immediate shutdown after the company reportedly failed to raise enough capital to continue operating. | SEE STORY
As a secured creditor, AMI will have access to certain Ecast assets. This will allow the music and videogame company to access existing Ecast jukeboxes and provide Ecast operators with short- and long-term solutions to restore their digital music services. Among these is a plan that will enable Ecast boxes to access AMI's jukebox music catalog. AMI is also restoring Internet services to these jukeboxes.
The new service is expected to become available on Thursday, March 8.
"For clarity, AMI did not acquire the business or operations of Ecast and did not assume any of its obligations to creditors," Maas said. "Currently, AMI is exercising its rights as a secured creditor of Ecast."
AMI said Ecast operators will able to subscribe to the AMI transfer plan online. The company will have a subscription form online this week. AMI standard rates, 20% revenue-share, will apply. Some Ecast operators might experience lower rates with AMI, he said.
"The percentage decreases with unit volume, from an initial 20% down to 16% for our biggest customers," Maas explained. "Operators will get the rate based on their combined count of AMI and Ecast units, which for some will automatically lower their rate."
Maas said AMI is making the transfer plan as seamless as possible.
"Essentially, we are restoring the jukebox capabilities substantially as they were a week ago, but with a catalog from AMI," Maas said. "Operators will be able to access the customer support team at AMI to help with their Ecast jukeboxes."
While offline, Ecast jukeboxes can continue to play music stored locally on hard drives (150-200 albums).
Long-term, AMI is developing a software upgrade path that will enable AMI's jukebox client software to run on Ecast hardware. This means that AMI will transition the machines from AMI content over the Ecast network to using all AMI services and software. Maas said AMI plans to replicate key Ecast functionality in the AMI software to preserve the Ecast experience.
"The power of this announcement is that shortly operators will have an immediate, simple option that allows them to keep their entire existing Ecast footprint intact," Maas summarized. "The crisis will be resolved, the existing music catalog improved, and operators can return to normal long-term planning."
At its peak about four years ago, Ecast had some 10,000 jukeboxes online. That number might have declined about 30% or 40% over the past three years. At this point, the jukebox manufacturers do not have enough inventory for an immediate replacement market of 6,000 or 7,000 units.