On the town in Milwaukee: Digging the digital jukebox?
"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee.com is back for another round! The whole month of February, we're serving up intoxicatingly fun articles on bars and clubs -- including guides, the latest trends, rapid bar reviews and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!Are bars better or worse off since the invention of the digital mp3 jukebox?
As with so many electronic advances, the pros and the cons are precisely the same: you can access any song you want, but so can anyone else in the bar.
That old school hit that you listened to over and over in high school and that you've missed for the last 10 years -- yep, find it and play it, but be prepared for others to do the same.
No. 1: How many options are there again? 1,543?
Pro: The collection of digital music runneth over. Yes, the typical virtual compilation of albums, artists and songs is far greater than was ever possible on a manual jukebox. Plus, if you're dead set on a song that just so happens not to fall into this broad category, simply plug in another dollar and search the online database for nearly every song recorded on a major label in the last 50 years.
Con: For better or worse, Don McClean's "American Pie" still reminds me of high school study hall. That is to say, if bars ever claimed a unique soundtrack, they've lost it. Just as day after day in high school study hall, the same five songs played on the jukebox, bars, restaurants and cafes, that had manual jukeboxes controlled the albums and therefore created a soundtrack to last years and years.
No. 2: Forget quarters, start plugging dollar bills and credit cards.
Pro: I have yet to really think of a pro for this one. No one likes to spend money and I've never really run across a situation where I'd prefer to spend more for something I potentially am going to wait two and a half hours to hear.
Con: Quantity has a price. It may sound cliched, but seriously, I do remember when you could make a handful of music selections for a buck.
No. 3: You can spend hours in front of the touch screen.
Pro: Likewise, it's the perfect way to opt out of a draining two-hour conversation. No longer do you throw in your quarter and hit 4529. Everyone knows song selection takes time and so you have the social blessing to do whatever it takes.
Con: Almost every aspect of our lives has us confused. No longer is a choice easy, no longer do you buy something simply because it's the only one to buy. Countless options are becoming the pretext to indecision. Therefore, yes, give me 1,000-plus songs to pick from, but then I'm going to stand there for 35 minutes trying to navigate, select and determine which are my night's representative five.
No. 4: The moral ambiguity of "Play It Now"
Pro: Does anyone want to wait? Doubtful. This feature preys on impatience and I for one, as I'd guess most of you, are more than happy to oblige. You no longer have to wade through a sea of songs selected by your drinking neighbors, you can just opt to pay the additional fee to make your selections jump in priority.
Con: "Play it Now" occasionally leaves me with a little guilt. It's as if I can feel the capitalist mentality of, "All those suckers who only wanted to spend $1 on their song, when I'm willing to pay $2, that's just too bad" outweighing any sense of courtesy and respect. And yet, I'm okay with it. Overall, the con here is short-lived guilt and shame.
No. 5: Corporate control
Pro: High falutin' jukebox corps have enough money to do anything they want and so, they can pull in pretty much any artist or song they desire. Admittedly, this pro is a stretch; I'm a blanket naysayer for corporate control. End of story.
Con: Someone out there has the job of classifying artists and songs into "basic" and "supreme" categories. I'm sure there's some tried and true marketing scheme filled with test groups, pie charts and statistical demographics to back up these decisions but, really? This is a jukebox. That's all.
Steffek - Yes, I know that Magoos uses the slide-out computer underneath the far end of the bar. See my previous post where I suggested a jukebox is a better fit for that bar. There will never be a right answer to this debate. As for some goon playing music nobody wants to hear..... the bartender at Magoo's could just as easily play some boring T.I. song on the computer as someone could on a jukebox.
ActionDan, you know Magoo's uses their computer for most of there music right? That is the big draw, no needing to dump $ in a box, when I can spend it on drinks. Plus some goon won't come in and play music no one wants to hear. Jukeboxs are dead at most modern updated places. Only the old man corner bar still uses them.
steffek - I think it's a little late in the game to be discussing the "why should we pay for music when TV is free?" argument. The jukebox has been an institution for 60-70 years. And people were dropping coins in player pianos more than 100 years ago. While it would be great for a barowner/barkeep to be able to find a selection of music that makes everyone happy - it's not going to happen unless you are at a bar with a very rigid theme. I know you've posted that you are a regular at Magoo's. Good example there. On most nights at Magoos, you'll have every color in the tavern-going rainbow on a stool. Yee-haw country girls, tear-in-my-beer drunks from the neighorhood, the V100 set, rockers, etcetera. I just don't think the railminder could ever do an adequate job of making everyone happy. That's why a jukebox is better suited there. Unless you get someone willing to dump $5-10 into the machine and dominate the evening with their favorites, you'll probably get enough variety for all to be happy when their tunes are on and content to sit through 2-3 songs that they don't care for while waiting for theirs. That said, there's no right answer here. I love the jukebox, period. And I'm totally digging it when College D drops an 18 minute Cygnus on the box..... but I'm sure some others want to kill the box-maestro for that gem!
My patience for the internet Juke Box has run out. It never finds what I want to play. On the occasion that it does, it costs an arm and a leg. I say screw the Internet Juke Box. A well-stocked Juke box used to be a BIG selling point for me in a bar. I still like it when I walk in somewhere and they have an "old school" cd jukebox that is well stocked- I'll actually go over and play it. Some of my favorites- Sabbatic's, Vitucci's, and the one at VOX that was stocked with britpop was fantastic (RIP).
I look at it this way, the bar doesn't charge you to watch the TV, so why in the world should you have to pay to hear the music? Dan I see your point, and when that happens it sucks, but just like a internet jukebox, you have zero say in what other people are going to play when you are sitting there. Not everyone has the same taste in music, but the bar/barowner should keep it in line with what the people sitting there want.
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