NEW YORK CITY -- As Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence this weekend, the nation's jukeboxes are expected to set off their own fireworks. This week, 4th of July playlists went live on jukeboxes connected to the Ecast and TouchTunes networks. AMI said its exclusive VH1 playlists, which went online last fall, and the network's country music collections continue to rise in popularity. All music providers predict significant play for Michael Jackson's music.
Possibly making the biggest bang on boxes will be Bruce Springsteen, whose music recently surfaced for download on the TouchTunes network, which consists of some 38,000 digital units. Springsteen has been among a few major music artists who have not authorized play on downloading digital jukeboxes, apparently until now.
Springsteen, nicknamed the "The Boss," who tours with the E Street Band, is widely known for his style of heartland rock infused with pop hooks, poetic lyrics and Americana sentiments centered on his native New Jersey. The omission of his music on digital jukeboxes for the past decade has been a huge bone of contention among operators from coast to coast.
But now it looks as if The Boss's entire catalog is available for TouchTunes boxes. VT discovered the appearance of Springsteen's music at MyTouchTunes.com, a website where jukebox patrons can create personal playlists, which can also be accessed at touchscreen jukeboxes on location. TouchTunes declined to comment on the addition of Springsteen to its music network.
"I just spotted the Springsteen catalog at TouchTunes's operator Web tool on Wednesday," said Joe Bossolina, owner of McGee Amusements (Ridgefield, NJ). "I spent a good amount of the day adding his music to my jukeboxes' hard drives for local play, and notifying many of my clients."
According to Bossolina, whose company is one of the largest jukebox operators in northern New Jersey and New York City, Springsteen's absence has always been a problem for music vendors, particularly in the Garden State. "It made it difficult to sell the digital jukebox without his music," he said. "I was more than pleased when I saw Springsteen songs on the network."
THIS WEEK ON JUKEBOXES:
Michael Jackson Jukebox Play Skyrockets
NEW YORK CITY -- Radio play for Michael Jackson's music catalog jumped more than 1,700% in the three days following his death, according to Nielsen BDS numbers reported by Billboard. Some 143 Jackson recordings have been played more than 67,000 times on more than 1,600 terrestrial and satellite radio stations, for the week ended June 28, and 22 of those tracks surpassed 1,000 plays. Leading off was "Billie Jean" with 4,540 plays, compared with 318 the week before, followed by "Thriller" with 3,570 plays and "Rock With You" with 3,546 plays.
Play for Jackson's recordings are also soaring on the nation's jukeboxes. The AMI Entertainment Network reported a 2,000% spike in plays of Michael Jackson and Jackson 5 songs on the evening of June 25. In total, the King of Pop's music represented 50,000 jukebox plays during a six-hour period, compared with an average 2,500. Leading AMI play, in order, were "Billie Jean," "Thriller," "Beat It," "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," "Rock With You" and "The Way You Make Me Feel."
Ecast Inc. this week released the "Remember the Time" playlist to its nationwide network of 10,000-plus digital jukeboxes. The collection, compiled by Ecast's music department, consists of more than 50 Jackson songs. It pairs his best known with lesser-known works, and adds in covers from Alien Ant Farm, Chris Cornell, Fall Out Boy and Willie Nelson. "This playlist is Ecast's way of celebrating the life of a beloved artist and musical talent," said Scott Walker, the company's vice-president of network operations.
Jackson was a clear favorite on the Ecast network, racking up 240,000 plays in 2008, with "Billie Jean" topping the list at 32,756 and "Thriller" following at 30,486. In the first quarter of 2009, the pop artist's track average was ahead of plays for the same period last year. Those numbers are expected to dramatically increase following Jackson's death, Ecast said.
On the nation's largest jukebox network, plays for Jackson's music paralleled those on the radio for the week ended June 28. TouchTunes chief marketing officer Ron Greeberg said plays were up about 1,700% on the TouchTunes network. He added that 15 Jackson songs were among the top 50, compared with none the week before.
New Music, Promotions Highlight TouchTunes's Summer Offerings
NEW YORK CITY -- Now playing on TouchTunes jukeboxes throughout Canada is the debut album by The New Cities. "Lost in City Lights" (Sony Music) offers 11 synth-pop tracks by the six-member band and its first single "Dead End Countdown."
"We're really excited to be part of this program and it's a cool way to get our music out across the country to new fans," says Nick Denis, one of the two keyboardists in The New Cities, which hails from Quebec.
TouchTunes vice-president of digital media and music marketing Vicki Saunders said The New Cities promotion with Sony Music is the company's "first promotion in Canada with such a promising band."
In the U.S., a Fourth of July playlist went live this week on TouchTunes jukeboxes. The music assortment celebrating America's Independence Day features 100 patriotic pop, rock and country anthems, including Lenny Kravitz's "American Woman" and Rodney Atkins's "It's America," along with George Jones's "4th of July," Jimi Hendrix's "Star Spangled Banner" and Grand Funk Railroad's "We're an American Band." It'll be available through July 9 on some 30,000 boxes.
"These songs really define the American spirit, and there's no better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with a great mix of classics and new favorites," Saunders said.
Also going live this week is a TouchTunes sweepstakes tied into Kenny Chesney's "Greatest Hits II," which offers jukebox patrons and fans a change to win a flyaway trip for two to one of the country artist's sold-out shows on the Sun City Carnival Tour. The promotion runs through July 4, on jukeboxes and online.
Ecast Independence Playlist Hits Jukes On July 1
SAN FRANCISCO -- Ecast's Independence playlist goes live on jukeboxes on July 1, and will cover more than 175 songs, delivered by the company's "shuffle" mode to spur patron music discovery. With songs from every genre and celebrating every state, the list offers plenty of patriotic and holiday "kaboom," Ecast said.
"Since Ecast introduced playlists to the industry [in 2007], we have seen its popularity increase and have been delighted to see the feature adopted by other out-of-home music networks," said Ecast VP of network operations Scott Walker. "Ecast usage numbers indicate strong and increasing adoption as well as a double digit increase in single song downloads -- thanks to how playlists surface more of the Ecast catalog."
TouchTunes Explores Online Dating Service
NEW YORK CITY -- TouchTunes Corp. is exploring an online dating service and could add it to some 10,000 interactive jukeboxes in bars across the U.S. by December. According to TouchTunes' chief marketing officer, the service, called Skout OUT, is among a dozen applications the company is looking at. "It's part of our plan to lead in technology and content," he said, "and to enhance the jukebox experience."
The dating service grew from 2008 startup Skout, a free social networking site that lets users see each other's photos and geographic distance from each other on GPS-equipped cellphones. The site reportedly has 500,000 members and is accessed thousands of times a day.
A possible TouchTunes application might show pictures -- on jukebox screens or plasma monitors in locations within a mile radius -- of people who have agreed to be listed on Skout OUT. Users would be able to exchange messages or use their credit cards to buy and send "virtual drinks" to others. Skout is developing a solution that will allow users to create and send coupons that can be redeemed for real drinks at the bar.