GRAND RAPIDS, MI — AMI Entertainment, the music content and technology division of jukebox manufacturer Rowe International Corp., is launching a new website featuring enhanced tools that simplify the remote management of Internet-enabled jukeboxes. The jukebox music provider began migrating AMI subscribers to the new site – located at amientertainment.net – in August, and expects the process to complete in the fall.
The revamped site was programmed with the latest Java technologies, including Spring and Hibernate. Making extensive use of dynamic HTML, through AJAX, the site is far more responsive than the previous version, using caching to quickly present the AMI music catalog and enable single-click selections.
When logging onto the secure website for the first time, company officials report, AMI jukebox operators will notice a new look. Clean and user-friendly Web pages will only show the most relevant information on the main displays. For example, the homepage greets the user with the latest AMI news and a set of recommended music albums. These include “featured” albums, selected weekly by AMI’s librarian, to highlight new releases, available seasonal material and AMI favorites comprising the top-played albums from the previous month.
For each of the lists, the operator can display selections across all genres or refine the search to a specific variety such as country/bluegrass or alternative rock. Users can click on the album jacket to easily add the music to one or more of their jukeboxes.
The new site uses a “music tab” that brings together all information required to analyze and manage music on an operator’s jukeboxes. These include:
• Play counts of local content and “Music on Demand” selections over the past month;
• Relative popularity statistics for albums across the whole AMI network;
• Music recently added to the network;
• Featured albums selected by AMI’s music librarian;
• Filters to focus on and refine playlists of a specific genre.
In addition to the extensive information at the operator’s fingertips, the music tab offers an easy way to toggle from jukebox to jukebox and a straightforward one-click method for music ordering.
“It could be said that the website was designed along the same lines as the familiar shopping cart, recognizable to anyone who has shopped on the Internet,” explained Ron Richards, AMI’s vice-president of software engineering. “By combining the music tab feature with the ability to easily group jukeboxes based on music preferences, the operator can simultaneously make selections across any number of jukeboxes.”
Another new feature is the “order” tab, which allows users to view past selections. This tool also was designed to improve the management of dialup jukeboxes by displaying data related to music transfers. If a user orders music to be delivered by a USB thumb drive, the order will be displayed on a “file tab” that enables the music-update file to be downloaded.
A unique feature of the AMI system is its ability to operate using a standard dialup connection. While dialup jukeboxes are not always online, they require a daily connection period of about three hours to poll play data; with a dialup system, the operator programs the hours for jukebox connection. But file transfers for a larger album load can take several hours, so new music for local selections and hard disk cache, which is used to simulate “music on demand,” is delivered to the operator by email and installed into a jukebox using a USB thumb drive. Music in disk cache is stored in single format to simulate music on demand; as many as 25,000 songs can be stored in cache.
However, AMI dialup systems can also be updated directly during a connection period, and are now able to handle a load of 10 album transfers over a standard phone line during a connection period.
The AMI software team began the redesign process a year ago by listening to operators in the field. “We interviewed several operators to determine how they manage music on their routes and what were the most common tasks they performed,” Richards said. “The AMI software team then set out to design the website around making those tasks as easy as possible.”
During the Web development period, the music provider also made major improvements to the AMI Entertainment Network. Expanded capability was added to handle the increasing load created by AMI’s growing music library and jukebox connections. AMI’s new website architecture was designed to scale upward, enabling support of additional database and application servers that can sustain a several-fold increase in the music provider’s network size. “Both the network and new administrative site can now handle seamlessly both dialup and broadband connected jukeboxes,” Richards said.
AMI Entertainment powers digital downloading jukeboxes built by Rowe and Merit Entertainment. In addition to its secure administrative site, it maintains a website open to the public – amientertainment.com – where visitors can learn more about AMI music and jukeboxes.
AMI’s software development center opened in Chicago in February 2006. It focuses on maintaining the AMI Entertainment Network, oversees the operators’ Web-based management tools and supports back-office software development for administrative functions, which include royalty payments and music feeds from record labels, among other requirements of a digital music provider. Richards, who joined the company in July 2005, heads the software development center. His staff consists of top-level engineers with experience producing enterprise-class software for such Fortune 500 companies as eBay, Nestlé, Semantic, Ford Motor Co., IBM and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
To support the rollout for its new Web tool, AMI has posted a Flash tutorial, accessible at the operators’ website, that explains and illustrates key features of managing music online. The step-by-step tours walk AMI operators through common administrative jukebox tasks, which include music management, order tracking, working with jukebox groups and updating dialup systems.
“While we designed the new AMI Web tool to be intuitive and simple to use on its own,” said John Margold, vice-president sales and marketing of Rowe International, “we thought operators might find it convenient to have immediate access to a built-in tutorial program that explains and illustrates, through the use of model Web pages, how some of the basic features work. The reference resource will always be there and can help operators instruct their personnel on how to manage AMI music.”