Two studies published recently report very different results on the effect certain styles of music can have on our emotions, demonstrating just how personal music taste can be.
In the first of the two studies, the University of Missouri found participants were more likely to be able to improve their own mood when listening to upbeat tracks than more sombre songs. By contrast, University of California researchers discovered more downbeat music could have a soothing effect for anyone feeling down, as participants preferred music that matched their current emotional state.
As Dr. Stephem Palmer, the psychologist behind the study, phrases it, “Like a sympathetic friend, music, movies, paintings, or novels that are compatible with our current mood and feelings are more appreciated.”
Clearly, it’s not possible to draw any universal conclusion from these conflicting results on which type of music generates the most positive reaction, but what is certain is that music can have a powerful effect on how people feel. In turn, any music within a venue can play a large part in shaping its ambiance and deciding whether or not customers enjoy the time they spend there.
As the two studies suggest though, the link between music and mood is fairly complicated and the same song can have very different effects on different people. Since music tastes vary immensely, knowing what style of music will appeal to the customers visiting on any given occasion can be a difficult task, and getting it wrong could put some people off even entering the venue.
To cater to such diverse music tastes, digital jukeboxes from Soundnet provide access to a track library of over 7 million songs, offering a huge variety of different genres and artists. Beyond this though, Soundnet also tailor each jukebox specifically to the venue, profiling its customer base to recommend the best music package for their needs. Venue owners even have the option to add customers’ special requests to the jukebox library.
Contact Soundnet for advice on choosing the right digital jukebox package to create a welcoming ambiance within your venue.
It may only be March, but as Brits it’s in our nature to start looking ahead and planning for the summer months at the first sign of a sunny weekend.
Warmer weather brings with it a whole new set of opportunities for landlords, as eager patrons start venturing out into pub gardens up and down the country. Many pub owners may think that once this switch occurs, the jukebox no longer has a role to play in shaping a venue’s ambiance.
Actually though, thanks to the innovative features of modern jukeboxes, the summer sun can increase the number of ways a jukebox can be used to entertain customers. Unsurprisingly, the jukebox’s primary function will always be as a background music system, and this is none the less true outdoors, where landlords can choose to install weatherproof speakers to make the most of this opportunity.
To avoid any issues with noise regulation, Soundnet’s background music service comes with the option to separately control the volume in different areas of the venue. This means Landlords can continue to create an upbeat atmosphere inside, while keeping the noise to a manageable level outside to encourage casual conversation.
Beyond this fully customisable background music system, the cutting-edge VenueHub jukebox also acts as a perfect accompaniment to any outdoor pub events held over the summer months. Given the digital jukebox model’s option to display promotional posters and a calendar of upcoming events, the VenueHub provides a simple way of letting customers know what’s happening within the pub.
For an even more creative touch, landlords can even request specific songs to add to their jukebox music catalogue to support these events. Often, pub and bar owners take advantage of this option by adding local artists’ songs to their playlists following open mic nights, creating a real community feel for the pub. Alternatively though, this could be used to supply the perfect soundtrack to a theme night, competitive sporting event or family fun day.
To take advantage of these ingenious special features to create a sense of summer fun in your pub or bar, contact a member of the Soundnet team.
Almost one in every three business owners in the hospitality sector admit they would rather lose an entire day’s worth of trade than turn off the music in their establishment, according to a recent survey.
The research, compiled collaboratively by the PPL and PRS, two major music licensing bodies in the UK, finds a vast number of British hospitality businesses cite background music as a key element of their service offering.
In fact, 77 per cent view music as a way to alleviate awkward silences, leading 84 per cent to suggest music improves the overall ambiance of their venue. As a background music specialist, Soundnet can certainly testify to this positive effect, having heard similar sentiments from many of our customers.
Soundnet’s background music solutions aim to foster a sense of community within a venue, providing a source of entertainment for customers through a number of innovative special features.
Of these numerous extra services, Soundnet’s commitment to tailoring each jukebox to the needs of the particular venue and their unique customer base is undoubtedly one of the most valued. Landlords are given the option add as many specially requested tracks to their jukebox library as they wish, including unreleased tracks and local artists, under Soundnet’s expert guidance.
As 47 per cent of hospitality business owners reportedly feel the music they play reflects the character of the brand, this gives landlords the opportunity to really connect with local pub-goers.
Beyond drawing in the crowds, though, 81 per cent of industry managers vouch for music’s ability to boost staff morale. Through this positive effect on employee spirit, jukeboxes may lead to friendlier customer service and increased efficiency, in addition to captivating customers.
As a result, many pub and bar owners not only find that a Soundnet background music system improves the atmosphere in their venue, but also sets the cash registers ringing.
Contact the Soundnet team to learn more about how to harness the positive power of music in your venue through a fully managed jukebox music system.
Salford Landlord, Ken Devereaux, is keen to announce that jukebox takings have doubled for the Salford Arms since the venue began using its digital jukebox to promote local music. “We've been advised how to use this jukebox to the full potential and I put that down to the success we've had to date,” Devereaux comments.
The Salford Arms has always taken pride in championing talented local artists through hosting regular live music events, Devereaux explains. Recently, however, this support was taken to the next level, as Devereaux began using the jukebox’s ‘What’s on’ feature to provide customers with a digital calendar of upcoming events.
“The jukebox is in a fantastic position so it's great for advertising what's on and promoting special events such as our increasingly popular open mic night,” affirms Devereaux.
What’s more, Salford Arms pub-goers can now enjoy local music even on nights when no band is playing, thanks to advice on making the most of the Soundnet’s Venue Favourites option by adding local artists’ tracks to the jukebox library. As Devereaux puts it,
“We have had the jukebox profiled to play the right music to cater for our regulars. Local bands that play love the fact we can help promote their music via the jukebox.”
One such artist, award winning local songwriter, Sarah de Warren, showed her appreciation at having her tracks featured on the Salford Arms’ jukebox, commenting,
“Thanks so much for putting them up for me, so excited to hear them on there! I'm re-recording a bunch of my songs over Christmas, so when they're done I'll definitely email them over for the jukebox.”
The pub’s customers seem similarly excited to have the option to listen to local music, to the extent that the latest offering by Salford-based band Buffalo, is now the jukebox’s most played track, causing Devereaux to assert that, “The jukebox is the heart of our venue.”
To find out how Soundnet’s musical expertise could help drive community spirit and improve jukebox takings in your venue, contact the Soundnet team.
Soundnet have decided to extend the hugely popular ‘Venue Favourites’ service to allow landlords to add unlimited tracks to a personalised jukebox playlist of their customers’ most-requested tracks.
Aware that different pubs and bars have very different customers with highly varied music tastes, for years Soundnet have given landlords the option to hand-pick 50 extra tracks to add to their jukebox. Now though, Soundnet have announced that this 50 track cap will be removed, giving venue owners greater choice than ever before.
“It’s such an important part of our service,” affirms Soundnet’s Commercial Director, James Luck, concluding, “We always go the extra mile when it comes to meeting these requests, no matter how obscure. It’s so easy to do, lists can be emailed, telephoned or faxed to us, we don’t need exact tracklists or even artists’ names, just a vague idea will do.”
This commitment to sourcing and providing a venue’s chosen tracks, from common choices like Elvis to little-known local bands and even the most unusual musical sub-genres, proved crucial to Soundnet customers, Essex Leisure, when organising their themed beer festival.
“We ordered some German Oompah music on the Monday, Soundnet supplied it on the Friday; just in time for the site’s beer festival,” explains the company’s Account Manager, Tony Garrett. “We have requested many Venue Favourites over the years but this one deserves a special mention as Soundnet surpassed their usual excellent support and advice,” he concludes.
In addition to creating the perfect atmosphere for a venue, the Venue Favourites service also enables landlords to improve jukebox profits, by meeting the individual preferences of their customers. As expressed by Chris Haley, Managing Director of Dransfield Novelty Company; “We have been using the Venue Favourite service from Soundnet for many years. It has been crucial to the on-going success of our jukebox sites.”
Contact our team to discover other ways Soundnet goes beyond the standard jukebox services to provide superior background music support for your business.
British artist Adele has entered the Guinness Word Record Book after breaking several landmark records following the phenomenal success of her second studio album 21.
The singer, recently confirmed to be recording the theme tune to the new James Bond film, Skyfall, broke seven records in total, including the first female, first UK artist and fastest act to reach a million US digital sales. The signer also recorded the biggest-selling digital single in the United States and the United Kingdom with her hit record ‘Rolling in the Deep’, as well as scored the biggest-selling digital album with 21 both in the UK and United States.
The success of Adele should come of little surprise to anyone following her success in our digital jukebox chart. Over 2011 and 2012, Adele had several songs in our most-selected track playlist including ‘Rolling in the Deep’, ‘Someone Like You’ and ‘Set Fire to the Rain’.
But Adele was not the only digital jukebox success story to appear in the 2013 edition of the Guinness World Records. One Direction became the first British act to have a debut album top the US Billboard Chart with Up All Night. Meanwhile, The Stone Roses also entered the record books with the fastest-selling rock concert in history; the 220,000 tickets to the three Manchester concerts sold out in just 68 minutes.
Other acts to claim their place in the record books include Madonna (biggest TV audience), Lady Gaga (fastest-selling album) and Rihanna (best-selling digital artist).
Here at Soundnet, we’re seen the popularity of all the above acts all reflected in our digital jukebox playlists, proving once again that customers want to be able to hear the bands and artists currently making the news. Contact a member of the team here at Soundnet for more information on how you can provide your customers with an all-encompassing music library.
Last week saw the return of ITV flagship music programme The X Factor. This, the ninth season of the Simon Cowell brainchild, began on Saturday as judges Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger, Tulisa Contostavlos and Louis Walsh started to sift through the thousands of performers vying for a record deal.
There are high expectations surrounding the new series and, in an attempt to freshen up the format, an Olympic-themed episode is promised (with medal-winners Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Chris Hoy reported to be guest mentors for one of the live shows), while the final itself will be held in Manchester; the first time the last episode will be hosted outside of London.
However, it wasn't all good news for the series as the first episode launched to its lowest rating since 2006, pulling in an average of 8.1 million viewers (down 2.7 million from the previous year).
Of course, there's an undeniable attraction to The X Factor. While we've questioned the decline of the format in the past, there's no question that the series has the potential to propel a song back into the public consciousness. Over the past nine years, we've seen the show dramatically influence the charts in our digital jukeboxes; Alexandra Burke's rendition of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah', Marcus Collins' cover of 'Seven Nation Army' by the White Stripes and Little Mix's take on Damien Rice's 'Cannonball' are just some of the examples of the tracks that have returned to the digital jukebox top 20. The influence of the show on the music chart is undeniable.
So, as a result, over the coming weeks, Soundnet aim to playlist all the tracks performed on live episodes of The X Factor; on the Monday following each show's broadcast, our digital jukeboxes will be updated with the original and the cover versions of each track. Get in touch with one of the Soundnet team to discover more about unlocking this exciting feature.
The hologram of Tupac Shakur rapping on stage at Coachella was a landmark occasion in the history of live music. The incredible five minute performance saw the iconic rapper, who was killed in Las Vegas in 1996, on stage with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre in front of a fanatical Coachella audience. The 'appearance', which we have embedded below, offers a tantalising glimpse into the future of live music and raises a lot of questions about the potential of bringing more artists back on stage.
Speaking about the performance and the potential chance to see more of music's biggest icons, Sanj Surati, head of music at the firm behind the Tupac performance, said:
"This is obviously a historic and exciting initiative that we're all witnessing currently, and it would make sense to bring it to Europe and maybe take it to the rest of the world."
Commenting on any future performances, Surati also mooted the possibility of seeing Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Michael Jackson in the near future.
The three-minute performance of the revered rapper has got the Soundnet team ruminating on the future of digital jukeboxes. Indeed, will it soon be possible to see your favourite act beamed out of jukeboxes in your local bar or pub?
Here at Soundnet, we're constantly pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve through our digital jukeboxes. Our recent partnership with Last.fm highlights our commitment to technological advancements and we're always working on new ways for bars and pubs to offer innovative digital jukebox solutions for their customers. And while we probably won't be seeing a hologram of Elvis or Amy Winehouse beaming out from the Soundnet digital jukebox in your local anytime soon, it's still a very exciting prospect and one we'll be keeping a close eye on.
A pub in Greater Manchester, more commonly known as "Britain's toughest pub", is on the market after the owners took the decision to close the venue. The pub, The Flying Shuttle in Bolton, gained its hard reputation after reports from local police regarding 'regular excessive drunkenness'. In a testament to the reputation of the outlet, regulars set fire to the pub in protest against the venue's closure. A new owner has yet to be found.
The challenge facing the new landlord of The Flying Shuttle will be great. Indeed, turning around the venue's reputation will be an intimidating task and any owner will have trouble convincing customers that the pub's darkest days are behind it.
But, it's often not difficult to transform the atmosphere of a venue. A bar or pub background music system can easily alter the ambiance of even the roughest of outlets.
The effects of music on human behaviour and psychology have been well-documented; the background music in a bar, pub or restaurant has the ability to dramatically influence the mood of the clientele, drastically changing the tone and atmosphere of a pub to suit the desired atmosphere.
That's why, at Soundnet, we offer a variety of background music packages designed to appeal to a specific demographic. We tailor our background music solutions to suit a range of audiences and venues, ranging from luxurious, high-end restaurants to salt-of-the-earth pubs. Perhaps the new owner of The Flying Shuttle would like to give us a call in the future.
To find more information regarding our background music packages, please get in touch with the team at Soundnet.
At Soundnet, we consistently stress the importance of having the right music. The appropriate background system music can shape the atmosphere of a pub, restaurant or spa. Songs have the power to influence the mood of clientele, while also creating the perfect ambiance for your drinkers or diners.
But a new study from an American institution has found that music also has the power to slow the progress of Alzheimer's. The research, from the University of California, demonstrated that Alzheimer's sufferers could improve their memory by listening to their favourite music. The study, which scanned the brain activity of 13 students while they listened to background music, discovered that the section of the brain associated with listening to music is also associated with memories. The research hypothesises that playing familiar songs to those suffering from the disease could help the brain form some degree of resistance to the condition.
Speaking about the research, Professor Petr Janata from the University of California commented:
"What seems to happen is that a piece of familiar music serves as a soundtrack for a mental movie that starts playing in our head.
"It calls back memories of a particular person or place, and you might all of a sudden see that person's face in your mind's eye. Now we can see the association between those two things – the music and the memories."
The track listings on our background music systems regularly demonstrate the connection between music and memories. We've seen favourite festival tracks re-enter the chart after the Glastonbury and Reading weekends, while classic hits jump up the rankings after episodes of Life on Mars or This is England. Songs have the ability to transport customers back to another time in their life; a background music system needs to have a comprehensive collection of tracks just in case your customers ever want to take a trip down memory lane.
Contact us today to find out more information about how we can help with your background music system requirements.
A new act of Parliament will soon allow pubs to hold small live music gigs without a license. The new ruling, passed in the Live Music Act, will give pubs the opportunity to hold performances of live music if the audience is fewer than 200 people. The legislation is set to come into force around autumn.
The act allows pubs to hold live music performances, if held between 9am and 11pm, without having to apply for a live music license. Previously, only 26 per cent of licensed premises in the UK could stage any form of live music.
The news of the Live Music Act will be welcomed by the pub industry, many of whom felt the previous regulations for hosting live music were too complicated. A petition for the government to relax the law was signed by 4,121 venue owners, while industry publication 'The Publican' campaigned for the issue with its 'Listen Up!' Facebook group.
Writing at the time, James Wilmore from The Publican, commented:
"The Publican's Listen Up! campaign really seems to have struck a chord with the trade and many outside the industry.
"Under the previous licensing regime, pubs and bars were allowed to host two or less amplified musicians without needing a licence. But this rule was scrapped from the 2003 Licensing Act. Giving an exemption of this kind would hopefully allow more pubs that wanted to, to host live music, helping sustain them on quiet nights."
Music is incredibly important for creating the ambiance of a venue. A background music system for a bar or restaurant can ensure that patrons can enjoy music especially chosen for them. The same principal applies to live music and the new legislation will allow venues to hold intimate gigs suitable for their clientele.
Here at Soundnet, we specialise in providing venues with a background music system suited to the tastes of their customers. Our pub and restaurant background music options ensure that publicans and restaurant owners across the country have the opportunity to provide the latest (and most relevant) tracks for their customers without having to concern themselves with management or maintenance of the system.
Contact one of the Soundnet team today to discover more about our restaurant and pub background music systems.
New research from Oxford has found that music helps reduce anxiety and improves the healing process. The investigation from Dr Apul Parikh, a cosmetic surgeon at John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford, claims that music played to patients undergoing minor treatments helped 'improve anxiety levels'. The trial of 100 individuals discovered that those patients played music under local anaesthetic had significantly lower levels of anxiety during the procedure.
But, even in the operating room, it was discovered that patients reacted differently to a variety of musical genres; while classical music was the favourite style of those about to go under the knife, easy-listening classics like Frank Sinatra were also very popular.The study should be interesting for those pub or restaurant owners with a background music system. Firstly, it's a well-known fact that music helps to relax people. A study in 2011 discovered that music slowed down breathing, reduced blood pressure and lowered the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Secondly, the study from the John Radcliffe Hospital also tells us that different genres of music affect individuals in different ways. While an upbeat selection of rock tracks might be perfect for a pub background music system, songs from the Kings of Leon or Kaiser Chiefs would not be suitable for the clientele of an upmarket Italian restaurant.
Music plays an incredibly important role in setting the atmosphere of a pub or restaurant. Background music systems have the power to influence the mood of consumers, creating an ambience ideally suited to a meal or drink.
At Soundnet, we specialise in providing restaurants and pubs with background music systems ideally suited to their needs. Our tailored playlists are designed to create the perfect atmosphere for pubs, clubs, bars, hotels and spas across the United Kingdom. You can find more information about our bar and restaurant background music systems here.
Mitchells & Butlers, the managed pub and restaurant owner, has signed a deal with O2 to offer its customers free Wi-Fi across its 1,600 sites.
The deal, which is set to last for three years, will allow restaurant and pub goers to access free Wi-Fi from their laptops and mobile phones, regardless of their provider.
Speaking about the deal, Robin Young, operations director at M&B, said:
"We already know that people love to eat and drink with us and whether guests visit to relax over breakfast, brunch or dinner, work away from the office, or have a beer with friends and colleagues, we know from talking to them that free and easy to use Wifi is something they want in the restaurant and pub environment."
The agreement to offer Wi-Fi in pubs and restaurants marks the growing importance of online connectivity in pubs and restaurants. At Soundnet, we're constantly looaking to provide background music systems with innovative online solutions. Our digital jukeboxes and background music systems are developed to be future-proof, offering customers a modern and adaptable service which utilises online connectivity to provide a comprehensive music experience now and in the future. Indeed, in January, Soundnet announced an exclusive partnership with online music provider Last.fm, a move which demonstrates our commitment to new technology.
What's more, pub background music systems and restaurant background music systems from Soundnet ensure customers have a fully managed service, providing new tracks, the latest hits and exclusive pre-releases on a monthly basis. Our systems can be tailored for any audience and tracks can be added to a playlist on your background music system instantaneously.
To discover the benefits of using a Soundnet background music system or digital jukebox, please get in touch with us here.
The line ups for the Leeds and Reading Festivals were announced this week with Foo Fighters, The Cure and Florence and the Machine all set to appear during the infamous August event. The bill, which also included The Shins, Mystery Jets and Kasabian, was positively received by fans and sales were said to be strong as the first tickets for the festivals were released.
Indeed, the positive ticket sales were attributed to the news that Foo Fighters and The Cure would be appearing during the festival. The Foo Fighters last appeared at Reading and Leeds in 2002 and 2005. Meanwhile, The Cure will be performing at the festivals for the first time in 33 years, having previously appeared at Reading in 1979.
Over the weeks leading up to the festivals, we expect to see more punters selecting digital jukebox tracks from the headline acts. The Cure and Foo Fighters are both extremely popular artists, particularly with in venues with the Rock Box digital jukebox package and, as we get nearer to the festival, we also predict rising plays of tracks from Kaiser Chiefs, Paramore and Enter Shikari, who are also on stage during the weekend. Indeed, the seven million-track VHub has all these artist discographies.
The Rock Box jukebox contains 10,000 hand-picked tracks from a variety of cult indie, punk and metal bands. The digital jukebox package is updated monthly with over 100 tracks and is specifically tailored to the rock audience. It also includes the option to feature local bands and venue favourites.
For more information about the Rockbox digital jukebox package, please contact us on 020 7644 8888 or enter your details here.
Earlier this year, Sound Leisure and Soundnet unveiled the latest in digital jukebox innovation with the exclusive VHub Last.fm app, a landmark development in music entertainment for pubs and their customers.
The app, developed by Sound Leisure, offers pub goers the ability to enjoy their favourite Last.fm tracks in a VHub venue of their choice. The app, installed free of charge to all VHub digital jukeboxes, gives users the chance to listen to over seven million tracks available on the innovative V Hub platform.
The Last.fm VHub app lets customers enjoy a number of functions, including the unique 'Scrobbling' feature, a process which lets users find and play their favourite songs from the VHub music library. The app also includes unique social networking elements which allow customers to view what tracks are being played by their favourite venue. What's more, Soundnet are in the process of adding unique Last.fm accounts for all VHub machines, ensuring that customers will always be able to review their previously selected songs both in and outside of the pub.
James Luck, of Soundnet commented:
"Our ultimate aim is to start viral interest in Last.fm and VHub in pubs - and ultimately other venues. Last.fm is only the start, VHub is designed to accommodate a wide range of apps which could be brand specific and musically rich, making it future-proof and the only choice for venues looking to drive profits and engage customers through technology."
So then, 2011. It's been alright, hasn’t it?
There's been winners and there's been losers. Overall though, Adele is probably the most deserving of a tipple on New Year's Eve. 21, her sophomore album, was released way back in January and, 12 months later, has been certified fourteen-times platinum in the United Kingdom.
Over 3.4 million copies were sold in Blighty over 2011 and the album eventually became the 10th biggest-selling record of all time in the country. Other artists deserving a celebratory drink include Rihanna, Lady GaGa, Beyonce and James Morrison for their album successes over the year.
Single victory came for Jennifer Lopez, Maroon 5, Rihanna and The Wanted, while Bruno Mars made a couple of appearances in the number one spot for his various efforts. Still, platinum-wise, only eight songs made the cut this year, including Adele's 'Someone Like You', Katy Perry's 'Firework' and 'Price Tag' by Jessie J.
We also welcomed back some familiar faces to our digital jukeboxes. Glam-rock-screechers The Darkness made a return, as did The Stone Roses, Bloc Party and Steps. We're not too fussed about Steps.
But, it's not all been good news and 2011 has seen a number of musical legends part ways. R.E.M, The White Stripes, The Streets and LCD Soundsystem all threw in the towel, vowing never to make beautiful music together again. In more serious news, it's also been a year which has seen the passing of a number of musical greats as John Barry, Jet Harris, Amy Winehouse and Clarence Clemons all bid us farewell during 2011.
We also quite enjoyed this year's X-Factor, eventually won by Little Mix, the first group to claim the prize. Still, they may not win the honours on the Christmas Day chart; the Military Wives Choir are looking more likely to scoop the prize come the 25th. It’s all very exciting.
See you all in 2012. Have a merry Christmas.
The wise owls at The Entertainment Retailers Association have released their annual top ten entertainment gifts for Christmas. The list, which is only available to good boys and girls (and anyone who clicks this link), predicts a bumper season for a number of musical acts including Michael Buble and One Direction.
Over the next month, the ERA predicts that 12 million CDs will be hastily stuffed into stockings across the country with latest offers from Michael Buble and One Direction being the most popular choices for music-loving relatives. There are also nods for the latest NOW collection and the DVD of Take That's Progress tour. Rather oddly, there's no room in the list for Rihanna's freshest sound 'Talk That Talk' and not a whiff of Justin Bieber's Christmas collection. It's tough at the top, kids.
Speaking about the list, ERA Director General Kim Bayley said:
“Entertainment retains its crown as the most universal Christmas gift. There truly is something for everyone.”
Never a truer word said Kim.
Compared to the other entertainment offerings though, CD gifts sits rooted to the bottom of the pile. The soothsayers at the ERA have foreseen that 15.1 million videogames and 32.2m DVDs will be hastily purchased between now and Christmas Eve.
For those interested, previous best-selling Christmas albums of the past decade are:
It's been a good decade for Take That and Gary Barlow's swimming pool of money. With this week's DVD release of Progress Live, Robbie and Gary should be continuing the money-making theme for another year.
Christmas is coming. Like super-trained festive Jedis, we can sense it approaching; red cups are sauntering into Starbucks, fairy lights are beginning to creep around shop windows and we're certain we saw a Christmas tree peer out from behind a wall, before nervously scurrying away down an alley last week.
But, as ever, it's the Soundnet Playlist which demonstrates that your customers are beginning to get into the Christmas spirit. It starts off fairly innocuously at first, with a few songs from this year's batch of Christmas adverts creeping into the chart. For the record, we'd be very surprised if Slow Moving Millie's cover of The Smiths' 'Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want' doesn't appear in the chart after its appearance on the festive John Lewis ad.
Still, it's around this time of year that the deluge really begins and the Soundnet chart gets stuffed with more Christmas hits than a Turkey on the 25th December. But, we're not complaining. Christmas music is filled with love and joy and, here at Soundnet, we're happy to be helping spread the festive cheer.
Furthermore, each winter gives us the opportunity to predict The Soundnet Christmas number one. Inevitably, the season of goodwill always features an appearance from the actual chart topper, although it's the race to claim the top 'classic' spot which is always much more fascinating.
Indeed, the Christmas package in our digital jukebox features every classic Christmas ditty and you'll find all the usual festive suspects in our ranks. So, if you've got a penchant for The Pogues or would rather sing along to Slade, you're in luck. But, if you'd rather jam along to Bruce Springsteen singing about Santa or weep over Elvis' Blue Christmas, we can accommodate that too.
For the record though, our money is on the eventual X-Factor winner claiming the top spot this year. Do the digital jukebox customers know it's Christmas time? Oh yes.
Lady Gaga is a Merlot, while Jeff Buckley is a Sauvignon Blanc. The Sugababes are Lambrini girls.
No, we haven't been drinking heavily (the sun isn't past the yardarm). Rather, we're discussing the results of a new university study which claims that we perceive music differently when sipping on a drink. Seriously.
The research, published in the British Journal of Psychology, found that individuals judge wine to have similar taste characteristics of a musical artist if the two activities are enjoyed together.
The study interviewed 250 students to discover whether a particular song could influence the way we perceive taste. Participants were asked to sample a Cabernet Sauvignon while listening to a selection of tracks, including Just Can't Get Enough by Nouvelle Vague, Slow Breakdown by Michael Brook and Carmina Burana by Orff and, during the test, were asked to describe the taste of the wine.
The research discovered that those listening to more upbeat songs were likely to discuss the wine in more energetic terms.
Here's Professor Adrian North, the mastermind behind the study, with the science bit.
"The research reported here considers the possibility that the emotional connotations of music may be able to function as a symbol that influences perception of taste.
"Participants appeared to perceive the taste of the wine in a manner consistent with the connotations of music."
So, there you go.
But, this isn't the first study to investigate the effect of music on paying patrons. A study from 2010 discovered that restaurant diners splash more cash when they were played classical background music over more contemporary pop hits. Best start queuing up the Rachmaninoff then.
Never one to shirk away from our responsibilities, the Soundnet team have been helping celebrate British Pub Week over the past few days. This glorious occasion, which falls between the 28th October and 6th November, aims to celebrate all that makes British pubs great. In order to share our love for the local boozer, we present our four favourite film clips from watering holes across the world.
Shaun of the Dead
Proving that a pub is the safest place in a zombie invasion, The Winchester has a starring role in this movie from Spaced alumni Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright.
A 'wretched hive of scum and villainy,' the Mos Eisley Cantina provides that your local is the perfect place to meet interesting characters who'll happily buy you a drink/try to shoot you.
A classic scene here from the Terminator 3, as Arnie, in full-on robot mode, scouts the local pub for a pair of trousers. A timeless bit of movie history which demonstrates that you'll always get something useful from a trip to the pub.
The classy surroundings of The Overlook Hotel bar provides us with two life lessons: xylophones provide excellent background music for suspense, while ghosts are surprisingly generous.
Superman turns evil in this clip, which sees him flick peanuts at bottles of whisky. The moral here is that you're allowed to let your hair down once in a while. Just don’t' flick peanuts at people. Or wear a cape.
Back in 2001, a little-known show called Pop Idol was broadcast on ITV. The programme, which saw popstar wannabes compete for a record contract, was judged by Pete Waterman, Dr. Fox and Nicki Chapman. It was the show that brought the world Gareth Gates, Will Young and it served as the precursor to the ratings monster, X Factor.
Here's a video of eventual winner Will Young auditioning for the judges back in 2001. Notice how very different it used to be. This was how pop music used to be created in the noughties, kids.
Away from our nostalgic trip to the past, here at Soundnet, we've got somewhat of a track record in predicting the winners of this particular talent contest. We've picked out Leona Lewis, Steve Brookstein, Leon Jackson, Alexandra Burke and Matt Cardle and, this year, we're sticking our flag in Marcus Collins. So to speak. Let's have a look at his audition tape.
Winner. Signed, sealed and delivered. Trust us on this.
A few weeks ago, we told you all about our trip to Earl's Court in London for the annual Bar and Restaurant show. Last week, we attended the exhibition along with PPL; a glamorous shindig which saw the finest food producers and drink suppliers in the United Kingdom gather to network, discuss the industry and share tips and techniques.
The Soundnet brand has always had a strong relationship with the services industry (our background music systems are in hundreds of establishments across the country) and this year's Bar and Restaurant show gave us another opportunity to chat to those in the business about us and our services.
One of the main issues on the table (if you'll excuse the pun) was the topic of creating the perfect dining ambiance in a restaurant or pub. While top class chefs demonstrated the latest techniques and recipes, we happily held court with a number of pub and restaurant owners, demonstrating the importance of good music in the drinking and eating experience.
Away from the industry chatter, we were also ecstatic to supply the official music for the dining areas of the exhibition. We're always delighted to have the chance to showcase our work to those in the industry and the Bar and Restaurant show gave us the perfect outlet to demonstrate just how effective our products are at creating the perfect atmosphere. Whatever the clientèle.
It's the start of a new week and there's another storming collection of artists in our hired jukebox playlist. Maroon 5, Bruno Mars and Adele all make up an extemporary selection of pop songs and once again our Top 30 chart demonstrates just what fantastic musical taste you all have.
Still, regardless of the excellent musical talent on display, here at Soundnet we have a soft-spot for the occasional one-hit wonder which sneaks into the chart. Here are five of our favourites from recent years.
Video Killed the Radio Star – The Buggles
Released in 1979, the debut single from The Buggles gained instant success. It was number one in the singles chart of 16 countries and the song has the honour of being the first music video to be shown on MTV in the United States in 1981. The Buggles, a new wave band from Albion, did not find the same success with their following records though, breaking up three years after the release of their hit single.
I'll Be There for You - The Rembrants
Potentially the most famous one-hit wonder, courtesy of its appearance over the opening credits of television programme Friends. The band actually enjoyed quite a lot of success off the back of their appearance on the sitcom giant, although for the life of us, we can't imagine why.
JCB – Nizlopi
Released in 2005, this charming song about a young son riding with his father in a JCB topped the UK chart on its release. The utterly lovely video alone cements its place in this list. Nizlopi, sadly, are no longer with us, having split up on 2010.
'Everyone's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) - Baz Luhrmann
Sometime director Baz Luhrmann brought us this wistful piece of advice in 1999. Voiced by Aussie actor Lee Perry, the song is actually taken from an advice column written by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich in 1997.
The Ketchup Song – Las Ketchup
Recorded by three Spanish sisters, the song reached number one in the UK, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Canada and Finland (but asking why is a question for another time). Believe it or not, Las Ketchup have a very successful career in their native Spain (Again, this is a question for another time).
Bellowing songstress Adele reigns supreme in the Soundnet chart this week. Not only has the 21-year-old, who recently released her sophomore album 21, flooded the top 30 tracks with four of her songs, but also features in pole position with the haunting melody 'Someone Like You'.
Indeed, the song, which first debuted at the 2011 Brit Awards, has been well-received by critics and fans alike. While BBC Music described the track as 'a thing of beauty,' the music-loving public has been as equally receptive to the haunting melody, placing the single at number one in both the UK and Ireland pop charts. With its emotional lyrics and spine-tingling piano backing, the tune is well-worthy of its acclaim and it's of little surprise that 'Someone Like You' has topped the Soundnet chart after only a couple of weeks.
But while Adele, her fans and Soundnet Jukebox listeners will not doubt be happy with this development, users of the music-streaming service Spotify will be somewhat disappointed; the track is not available via the programme. Indeed, rumour has it that the song won't be on offer for some time.
When you're providing music for your customers, it's crucial that you have a current playlist; when a song explodes onto the scene, people want to listen to it over and over. And 'Someone Like You' is definitely one of those songs.
"I can't quite believe how many times I've listened to this in a row," writes one YouTube users on the music video for 'Someone Like You'.
If your current music provider isn't supplying the latest tracks, it's time to move to another service. You'll never find someone like us.
In a bid to combat Internet piracy, Sony and Universal have announced an innovative plan to make new singles available immediately after they first make it onto the airwaves. This new policy, nicknamed "on air, on sale" is a massive step in preventing bootleg copies circulating in place of the official single release, and may signal the end of the age-old practice of setting up a new release with weeks of airplay before it becomes available to buy.
The business model has already been proven to work, as it's been a mainstay of X Factor winners for the past few years, and this year saw Matt Cardle's Biffy Clyro cover When We Collide going on to shift 439,000 copies, having been made available to buy immediately after the final was broadcast. The growing demands for instant gratification and immediacy, highlighted by the iPod-sporting music habits of the new generation of music consumers, means that being forced to wait for a new release is no longer a viable option. Instead of hanging on until the official release, fans are downloading unofficial copies from blogs or peer to peer sites, thus impinging on sales figures.
In news which demonstrates an increased willingness, and effectiveness, in chasing after people who contravene anti-piracy legislation, there have been three successful copyright-related prosecutions in the last few days.
The first came at Cardiff Crown Court, when Kevin Roberts of GoldSoul Entertainment Limited was found guilty of three trademark offences relating to his vinyl record business, resulting in the seizure by Bridgend County Council of 17.000 vinyl records. These records have since been destroyed by authorities.
Two other prosecutions followed quick on his heels, with Aylesbury Crown Court witnessing a guilty plea from brothers Ronald and Christopher Silver, who between them distributed £170,000 worth of counterfeit DVD mp3s. On the same day, at Staines Magistrates Court, Roneil Tomlinson was brought to book for producing and selling 5,000 counterfeit recordings.
These cases prove that the law is starting to take copyright infringement very seriously, marking the age of turning a blind eye to bootlegs and counterfeits as well and truly over. While it might be tempting to cut corners, the long-term effects are not just damaging to the entertainment industry, but to that of the copyright infringers' – they might save a few quid at the time but the fines won't look so appealing…
The online music streaming tool Spotify has proved to be a sensation for music lovers since it was launched in 2008, changing the way many fans experience music and learn about new artists. It's a great way of trying before you buy, and of creating and sharing playlists with friends (or just bragging about your cool taste in trendy bands). It's not, however, an alternative way of providing atmosphere in a venue, as its terms and conditions expressly forbid it from being used for anything other than personal, non-commercial purposes.
Even venues which have a license to play background music are not exempt from this, as the terms of usage for the funky track-streaming gizmo state that you may not "copy, reproduce, “rip”, record, make available to the public or otherwise use any part of the Spotify Software Application or the Spotify Service or its content (including but not limited to tracks, images and text) in a manner not expressly permitted under this Agreement".
While you can't turn to Spotify to provide music for your venue, Soundnet does offer a comprehensive solution to creating ambience for your pub, cafe or any other venue with our Background Music packages.
From Autumn until the Christmas number one is announced, Simon Cowell has a firm grip on the musical mainstream, thanks to the X Factor. Due to all the attention, and the ever-higher standard of the contestants' performances, the X Factor's live shows are no longer just auditions – they've become televised gigs, featuring the hottest tracks in the country every Saturday night.
For fans of the show it's not enough just to talk about Cher's latest rap or Mary's newest powerful ballad – thanks to the wonders of downloading the songs are now becoming chart contenders and, thanks to Soundnet, your jukebox can also get the X Factor.
Soundnet's free X Factor playlist is available to all Milestones in Music customers and means that all of the contestants' performances, as well as the originals of the songs they covered, will be available on the Monday after the show to online customers, or as part of the fortnightly update for offline customers.
Not only is this the perfect way to build up to the final and relive the highlights of the series, it'll attract and entertain customers and ensure they spend time and money in your establishment.
The fight-back against online piracy continues apace, but the rights holders of music which is being shared for free will still have to shoulder the vast majority of the costs of the clampdown.
The task of identifying, and notifying, people who are illegally distributing and downloading is a huge one, and the government has decided that the rights holders are to be responsible for 75% of the costs, likely to around the £14 million, with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) forking out for the remaining 25%.
This new cost-sharing plan is set to kick in in 2011, and it’s hoped it will make a saving for copyright holders of around £200million across the board. The rights holders aren’t exactly thrilled with the division, however, feeling ISPs should be forced to stump up more for their customers who use P2P filesharing tools.
At present, the rights holders have been paying the cost, but their hopes that a more equal division of the bill would be announced seem to have fallen flat. The government’s reasoning behind the uneven carve up was that “It was considered these were largely 'business as usual' costs that copyright owners would face as part of protecting their own copyright material”.
The BPI’s response to the ruling was guarded: “We will work closely with the government and Ofcom to ensure that the costs framework overall is workable and affordable, in particular for small labels, and that the Code can be swiftly implemented."
McDonalds have shown their commitment to introducing new technologies by partnering with IBM to implement a new cashless payment system at 1,300 restaurants across the country. Furthermore, it’s expected to be up and running by as soon as the end of this year.
It’s not the first time the two global giants have worked together – IBM were behind McDonalds’ move to provide free wi-fi in almost all its restaurants in 2007, which made them the biggest wi-fi provider in the country at the time and saw millions stopping by for a burger with their browser. They’re now working to make the McDonalds payment process quicker and more secure than ever before.
The new technology is intended to enhance customers’ payment experience by reducing transaction time, but it’s not just about speed – the new system will feature cutting-edge fraud detection software, as well as anti-tamper functionality, to protect these cashless payments.
The new, cashless solution is an integrated infrastructure, from the chip and pin at the point of sale terminal to the new, centralised data centre. This is a major part of an ongoing three year project to transform McDonalds payment systems, and a clear indicator of what the future of payment technology might look like.
The revolutionary iPad from Apple may be a sleek and stylish invention, but for PC bosses it’s proving a pretty ugly proposition. According to research from a leading analyst the impact of the iPad on the market is set to be felt most keenly by the manufacturers of lower-end PCs, with estimates of iPad sales in 2011 coming in at a whopping 28 million units. And according to the experts that might just be a ‘conservative’ estimate.
Notebook PCs may offer more complex functionality than the iPad, but its tablet design and eye-catching visuals have seen it overshadow the plainer, less aesthetically appealing notebooks, causing designers to go back to the drawing board in a bid to create products which can rival the innovative look and feel of the iPad.
One key knock-on effect of the iPad craze is the delay in customers upgrading their PCs, or holding back from buying them entirely, as their day-to-day browsing needs are met by the portable and lightweight Apple devices.
Another is the driving down of digital random access memory, or DRAM, in PCs as the iPad and other similar machines aren’t as reliant on DRAM as PCs or notebooks are.
Kanye West is hooking up with some unlikely artists for his new album. He's been in the studio with acoustic folkie Bon Iver, and is also working with Justin Bieber. Kanye's collaborations have got us thinking about some of pop's oddest couples.
Bing was the cardigan-wearing epitome of cosiness, David Bowie a genre-warping rock 'n' roll chameleon. When they got together in 1977 it was an oddly soothing experience, with their Little Drummer Boy quickly becoming a Christmas standard.
There's one way of proving you're no longer a cheesy pop puppet, and that's by letting Aussie king of Goth-rock, Nick Cave, stove your head in with a rock in a video for his latest murder ballad.
You couldn't get two more dissimilar vocalists than Ryder and Watson. One's a gobby Mancunian who half-sings, half-raps lyrics about your mum being dirty, the other's an opera star who knows his way round an aria.
No, your eyes are not deceiving you, GaGa performed a duet with the 80s fromage-meister, Michael Bolton. In her defence it was before she was a star, but the song, Murder My Heart, is a GaGa original.
The biggest band in the world needed someone to give their song Miss Sarajevo a bit of welly, so they called in the biggest tenor on the planet. It really shouldn't have worked, but somehow it did.
Amid all the talk of crisis and collapse in the music industry, a recent report from the Performing Right Society seems to suggest there's life in the business yet. Reporting a 5% rise across the music industry as a whole, a record-breaking spend on live music and a decrease in online piracy, the statistics seem to point to recovery, or at least a halt in the decline.
The PRS have admitted the report is "a view of the music industry from 30,000 feet … as the increasingly complex and cross-border industry is proving hard to add up" but it goes a long way to show that the worst may be over for worried music execs. A clampdown on online piracy does seem to be having the desired effect, with a 4.7% growth in the UK's music revenue in 2009, partly thanks to the global success of Susan Boyle.
The most interesting stat, however, is the 9.4% increase in live music revenue, proving that even if it's possible to download an album, it's never going to be possible to bootleg the experience of seeing an artist in the flesh. The rise of festivals and appetite for live music should ensure the industry stays in decent health, and can support the next generation of bands.
This appetite for live music, and unique music experiences, is surely the future of the music industry, with band's interactions with fans the key to their financial survival. Here's hoping for another growth in 2011 – even if SuBo doesn't bring out a follow-up record...
George Michael's fall from grace hit rock bottom as he started a jail term in Pentonville on careless driving charges. The star is faced with an eight week sentence, of which he's likely to serve four, and was said to be inconsolable, refusing to leave his cell.
George isn't the first musician to have a run-in with the law– here's our look at five of music's most infamous musical encounters with the boys in blue:
While they hardly served hard time, the Stones were faced with a night in the cells over drugs charges in the 60s, and mocked the incident in their video for We Love You, casting themselves as Oscar Wilde in the dock.
Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: Gimme Shelter
The Libertines enjoyed a summer comeback but Pete Doherty knows his way around a prison cell - it was his imprisonment for burgling Carl Barat that led to the band's first split.
Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: The Good Old Days
Wall of Sound producer Phil Spector was always seen as a loose cannon but his gun-play took a darker turn in 2003, when he killed actress Lana Clarkson – he's currently serving 19 to life.
Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: Be My Baby
Lil Wayne is serving a one-year term for illegal possession of a firearm, but he's not let it stop him from keeping up with fans via a blog and earning a few quid from 'Free Weezy' merchandise.
Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: Lollipop
The former Stone Roses frontman ended up inside over an air-rage incident, and undertook a dramatic change while banged up in Strangeways, converting to Islam. He confessed he'd only done it to get better quality dinners after he left, though.
Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: F.E.A.R
In March, Facebook overtook Google to become the most visited site on the Web. And what’s more, according to recent statistics, a whopping 50% of its 350 million plus users log into it every single day. More than 35 million of its users update their status everyday too – that’s a lot of active engagement – and it means their friends need to be able to access the web to stay up to speed with the latest goings on in their social circle.
Add to the mix rapidly-growing upstart Twitter, business essential LinkedIn and photo-hoster Flickr, itself a resource for over four billion images (and counting), and a picture soon emerges of a growing number of must-visit sites, whose dedicated users can’t be out of the loop for too long.
Thanks to the wonders of wi-fi there’s no need to be left out in the cold anymore, meaning terminal tweeters can share their latest musings, Facebook fiends find out what their friends got up to on their holidays as soon as they touch back down and budding Alan Sugars can do a bit of networking over lunch, via LinkedIn. It doesn’t take an entrepreneur to know that wi-fi connectivity is paramount in our new social networking age. Wi-fi in your pub, bar, cafe or hotel is as necessary as the furniture customers and patrons sit on.
So, Apple has another gleaming hit on its hands with the iPad. Within four weeks of its launch in the US, over a million high-tech tablets were snapped up. Interestingly, the wi-fi enabled units provided the key sales. The alternative, 3G iPads are costlier to buy and maintain.
The success of the wi-fi iPad is yet another sign that wireless connectivity is fast becoming essential for any commercial business wanting to maximise customer dwell time.
On another note, the San Francisco Chronicle reports the iPad is popular among OAPs – it seems older folks find it easier, more readable and better for people with basic computer skills than a laptop. Maybe that’s why I’ve got to get my hands on one when the iPads finally storm these shores!
The issue of online copyright law was brought into focus when a pub owner in the UK was faced with an £8,000 fine in November last year after its open wireless Internet connection was used to illegally download copyrighted material. The Cloud, hotspot provider to the pub, declined to name its location.
With the passing of the Digital Economy Bill it looks like this large fine, the first of its kind in the UK, won’t be the last. Under the new legislation the owner of the copyright which has been infringed will only need to target the address which owns the Internet connection used – in this case the pub in question.
Bringing a case against someone infringing on copyright isn’t a new thing, but targeting the Internet hotspot rather than the individual is – and makes clear the need for anyone providing web access to their customers to ensure there are filters in place.
The increasing crackdown on illegal downloading means Internet usage will be under more scrutiny than ever, and it’s absolutely essential to go down the proper channels when providing music, video and web content to your customers, or risk being punished for their misdemeanours.
Soundnet’s James Luck found himself trapped in Spain after his holiday, here’s his tale of how wi-fi saved the day:
I found myself trapped in Spain this Easter holiday, thanks to the volcanic ash cloud grounding flights back home last week. Luckily, with various iphones, itouches and the power of wi-fi, we were able to find alternative ways home, plot the final drive, organise accommodation and even keep up with work.
Being two adults and two teenagers with five Internet-enabled devices between us, we first found out about the volcanic ash cloud and its effects on flights via email and Facebook updates.
When the flight was officially cancelled we immediately booked a ferry from Le Havre online and the family were on the road in our hire-car, checking regularly for updates on departure times, traffic situation and of course the route itself – with maps accessed in wi-fi hotspots saved as screen grabs there was never any danger of getting lost.
On the two-day journey home every McDonald’s wi-fi hotspot was met with cheers – not only could the teens keep up to speed with friends via social networking, I could cancel meetings, check emails and ensure we were on target to make the departure time. We made it to Le Havre with three hours to spare. The boat didn’t have wi-fi but we were online again as soon as the white cliffs were in view – the 3G miraculously making it out to us from good old Blighty.
A survey on drinking habits in Europe has found Britain is the binge drinking capital of the continent, with none of our European counterparts consuming as much in one sitting as us Brit
The survey, carried out by Eurobarometer, found 12% of the British population confessed to consuming up to 10 drinks in a session, a figure which puts us way ahead of the rest of the 27 EU member nation
Only Malta and Finland came close, with one in ten surveyed able to match our single-session intake. The good news was that, while we might drink the most in one go, we aren’t top of the pile when it comes to frequency of boozing.
Brits drink four times a week on average – less than many nations polled. With Europe at the top of the world’s per capita alcohol chart, and Britain way out in front in Europe, it’s a worrying sign for the state of the nation’s livers, not least when alcohol costs over £100 billion in European healthcare annually.
The balance between enjoying a drink and drinking to excess is a fine one, but with more under-18s binging it seems like the time is right for more education on the matter, to ensure we Brits enjoy a drink sensibly, and safely.