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Hats off to Pharrell – he’s had quite a year

Posted by James Luck
12 May 2014
Pharell Williams has finally lost his top spot on the Soundnet charts, where he has remained for an amazing 16 weeks with his track ‘Happy’. During the past four months, he has headed off challenges for the top of the Soundnet chart from other artists who reached number one in the Official Chart Company listings, including Clean Bandit, Route 94, Sam Smith and Avicii. 
 
The artist who finally toppled Williamsl is Canadian singer songwriter Kiesza with a track called Hideaway, which has tickled the fancy of the jukebox listening public. The uptempo track was amazingly written by Kiesza and her collaborator Rami Samir Afuni in just an hour and mixed and mastered half an hour afterward and it has been the third fastest selling number one record in the UK this year.
 
But nothing can compare to the success that Pharrell Williams has enjoyed in the last 12 months. Check out this for a diary: In March last year, Williams appeared alongside T.I. on Robin Thicke’s controversial but undeniably huge single ‘Blurred Lines’ which reached number one in no fewer than 14 different countries. 
 
Just a month later, the disco track Get Lucky was released from Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. Williams featured on the track and on another album track ‘Lose Yourself To Dance.’
 
At about the same time he also featured on a track from Azealia Banks' debut studio album Broke with Expensive Taste. By June, the film Despicable Me 2 was released and featured three original new tracks from Pharrell Williams, including the irrepressible track ‘Happy’. 
 
By July 2013 there had only been 137 singles in UK chart history to have sold 1 million copies in the UK; that month Pharrell scored two million-sellers with "Get Lucky" and "Blurred Lines". By September 2013, ‘Get Lucky’ had sold 7m copies worldwide.  It was no surprise therefore that in December 2013 t Williams had been nominated for seven Grammy Awards, including Producer of the Year In the same month, a press release from Columbia Records announced that Pharrell had signed a contract with the label and would be releasing an album in 2014, featuring the single "Happy" from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack.  For "Happy" Pharrell was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song for Happy but narrowly lost out to ‘Let it go’ from the film Frozen. 
 
By March 2014 Williams released his album Girl to wide acclaim and later that month he announced that he would be a new coach on the US version of The Voice. 
 
Could he be the busiest man in the music business? All hail to Pharrell Williams, we figure it won’t be long before he is at the top of the Soundnet charts again.
 

The forgotten tracks

Posted by Toby Hoyte
10 February 2014
This week a new online music service was launched that only plays songs that nobody has listened to on Spotify. 
 
Apparently there are around 4 million tracks available on Spotify that have never ever been listened to. The aim of the new service, called Forgotify is to bring these tracks to the listeners’ attention.
 
Users have to log into Spotify to access these forgotten tracks, they are then presented with a piece of music and can press a ‘next’ button if they do not like what they hear. At this point they will be offered another unplayed track and so on. 
 
The founders of Forgotify said that the four million unheard tracks were "a musical travesty". I am not so sure…
 
While I applaud the concept of Forgotify for highlighting the unplayed and unloved on Spotify, I do question why they were not played in the first place. Radio 1’s Gemma Cairney put the new service to the test on Radio 4 this week. My ears nearly bled..
 
A seven-minute experimental instrumental track (thankfully Gemma only played around a minute) a Celtic ballad that haunted for all the wrong reasons – Forgotify is like a charity shop full of ‘finds’ that may be attractive enough but lead one to realize just why the items were donated in the first place. 
 
VHub is able to offer well over 7 million tracks to customers via an online connection. But we are carrying out a ‘spring clean’ of our own. We know that there are a considerable number of tracks that have never been played and they never will be played (unless they suddenly become popular via Forgotify!). 
 
We are therefore streamlining the offer to around 5 million tracks. We sincerely doubt that any of our customers or their customers will notice any difference at all, as these unloved tracks disappear. While we are sure that people will enjoy playing old forgotten tunes on their computers at home for a laugh, we know that our jukebox customers will not pay good money for them. But maybe we should just put them in a new category called “Forgotten tracks” and see if anyone wants to take the risk?!

Jukebox hits of 2013

Posted by Toby Hoyte
07 January 2014

Jukebox hits of 2013

Every year, we compile three charts of most played tracks, artists and classic tracks. These charts create an interesting picture of the music people pay to listen to while out in pubs and clubs.

As expected, chart hits are dominant on this year’s Most Played Tracks Chart, which is broadly in line with the top-selling tracks of last year as compiled by The Official Charts Company. Blurred Lines, by Robin Thicke (featuring TI and Pharell) were number one in both, although Get Lucky by Daft Punk – once again featuring Pharrell – drops down in the Soundnet chart to 4th place, while in the Official Charts Company Top Ten it is in 2nd place.

Avicii – the Swedish DJ sensation – is our number 2 and our overall most played artist on Soundnet-powered jukeboxes in 2013. In fact, his single Wake Me Up proved to be something of an anthem for our customers with this one track beating all the tracks from previous favourite band Oasis.

Classic tracks is always the most interesting category, as it can throw up all sorts of surprises. For example, AC/DC appears twice on this chart with Thunderstruck and Back in Black respectively. In fact, AC/DC even make it to number four on the top 10 artist chart for last year – not bad for a band founded in 1973!

Perhaps the popularity of our RockBox jukebox designed for alternative music locations has contributed to this success. But to put it into perspective against the dominance of chart tracks - Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines was played more times than the entire combined catalogue of AC/DC in the past 12 months!

These charts once again prove the popularity of chart music on our jukeboxes and demonstrate how important it is to update them regularly. Those customers with online enabled jukeboxes can relax in the knowledge that their music is updated automatically with all the latest chart tracks. If you don’t have a Sound Leisure/Soundnet jukebox or would like to know more about online connectivity – contact us today.

Happy new year!

Posted by Simon Davis
02 January 2014

As we link arms to sing Auld Lang Syne – many of us will be thinking of ways to improve our lives in 2014.

According to research, the top 5 New Year’s Resolutions are:
1. To lose weight
2. To quit smoking
3. To do more exercise
4. To get a new job
5. To improve our finances

While we cannot help you with the top 4 we may be able to help with the final one. If you are a jukebox operator, you may be interested to know about an innovative new app that Soundnet is introducing early in 2014.

soundjack will allow customers to choose and pay for the music they want to hear in pubs and clubs – either via the jukebox or background music, using their mobile phones.

Based on figures released by those operating similar systems in the US, we believe that soundjack will enable operators to see an uplift in music revenue of around 30 per cent.

In 2011, 46 per cent of us in the UK used our phones to access the internet. We are confident that an app will bring a new demographic to pay-per-play music, as our research shows that more women will use it, and a greater number of under-34s.

The soundjack app will be available on all online-enabled Sound Leisure jukeboxes and for customers to download onto their smartphones from early next year. The charges to operators are based on consumer play only – so there won’t be extra expense.

Soundnet has partnered with mobile payment specialist Payforit, which is a web-based mobile payment solution and Paypal, allowing customers to make quick, easy and secure payments with only a mobile number or their existing Paypal account. Juniper Research released figures this year showing that when retailers have implemented mobile carrier billing they have seen their average transaction value rise by more than 40%.

By using the data provided by Soundnet’s exclusive deal with the Official Charts Company, soundjack is able to bring exciting functionality to the mobile.

If you would like to know how soundjack could make your business more profitable in 2014, please contact Toby or James or visit the Sound Leisure/Soundnet stands at EAG and ICE in January.

Pop will eat itself

Posted by Lee Taylor
19 December 2013

Unless you left the country this weekend, you will not have missed the fact that it was The X Factor final. 

This show has become a national institution of sorts having spawned some of the most successful recording artists of recent years, such as One Direction and Leona Lewis. But just as it can create instant stars, it can also cruelly promise fame and fortune to those who will barely be remembered 12 months on – Joe McElderry anyone? 

Soundnet has an X Factor category on all of its digital jukeboxes because we realize that the show is part of the national zeitgeist. People talk about it, they read about it and undoubtedly they go out and buy the records. 

So, last night saw Sam Bailey, a 35-year-old prison officer crowned as this year’s winner. Love or hate the show, nobody can deny that the lady has a pair of lungs and can belt out a tune. She has been given Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper as her single. It’s available to download on iTunes already and the Chancellor has even waived the VAT as the proceeds are going to charity. That’s how big this show is. 

It was also interesting to note the number of other stars who were willing to let the show give their careers a boost. Of course, the judges Nicole Sherzinger and Gary Barlow were ideally placed to leave their desk and hop on stage; Nicole in a duet with Sam Bailey (where she was accused of upstaging her) and Gary Barlow in a duet with Elton John with twin grand pianos, a squadron of toy soldiers and a silver revolving stage that looked like a wedding cake. 

The final also saw appearances by Katy Perry and One Direction, while the live shows have also hosted performances from the likes of Miley Cyrus, Robbie Williams, Olly Murs and just about any star with an album to promote. Beyonce has even announced that Sam Bailey will be invited to support her on tour. 

Once the Christmas number one is in the bag and the UK X Factor tour is underway, the fuss will perhaps die down a little for another year. It is so all-encompassing that it is not surprising that people take offence at the sheer force that is the X Factor and the svengali behind it that is Simon Cowell. 

However, to play devil’s advocate for a moment, I would say that the show is not just a national season event, but increasingly a music industry event, showcasing some of the best talent in the charts as well as uncovering some of the undoubted stars of the future. Of this year’s crop Tamera Foster seems most likely to cross over to the mainstream. 

There is also something very satisfying in seeing somebody such as Sam Bailey – who was uncharitably christened “Screwbo” by the papers – win a competition that can often by associated with looks and youth. 

So – perhaps it is a win win situation – certainly for Cowell and for our customers with their X Factor playlists!

Unless you left the country this weekend, you will not have missed the fact that it was The X Factor final. 

This show has become a national institution of sorts having spawned some of the most successful recording artists of recent years, such as One Direction and Leona Lewis. But just as it can create instant stars, it can also cruelly promise fame and fortune to those who will barely be remembered 12 months on – Joe McElderry anyone? 

Soundnet has an X Factor category on all of its digital jukeboxes because we realize that the show is part of the national zeitgeist. People talk about it, they read about it and undoubtedly they go out and buy the records. 

So, last night saw Sam Bailey, a 35-year-old prison officer crowned as this year’s winner. Love or hate the show, nobody can deny that the lady has a pair of lungs and can belt out a tune. She has been given Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper as her single. It’s available to download on iTunes already and the Chancellor has even waived the VAT as the proceeds are going to charity. That’s how big this show is. 

It was also interesting to note the number of other stars who were willing to let the show give their careers a boost. Of course, the judges Nicole Sherzinger and Gary Barlow were ideally placed to leave their desk and hop on stage; Nicole in a duet with Sam Bailey (where she was accused of upstaging her) and Gary Barlow in a duet with Elton John with twin grand pianos, a squadron of toy soldiers and a silver revolving stage that looked like a wedding cake. 

The final also saw appearances by Katy Perry and One Direction, while the live shows have also hosted performances from the likes of Miley Cyrus, Robbie Williams, Olly Murs and just about any star with an album to promote. Beyonce has even announced that Sam Bailey will be invited to support her on tour. 

Once the Christmas number one is in the bag and the UK X Factor tour is underway, the fuss will perhaps die down a little for another year. It is so all-encompassing that it is not surprising that people take offence at the sheer force that is the X Factor and the svengali behind it that is Simon Cowell. 

However, to play devil’s advocate for a moment, I would say that the show is not just a national season event, but increasingly a music industry event, showcasing some of the best talent in the charts as well as uncovering some of the undoubted stars of the future. Of this year’s crop Tamera Foster seems most likely to cross over to the mainstream. 

There is also something very satisfying in seeing somebody such as Sam Bailey – who was uncharitably christened “Screwbo” by the papers – win a competition that can often by associated with looks and youth. 

So – perhaps it is a win win situation – certainly for Cowell and for our customers with their X Factor playlists!

Don’t Rage Against It – Download it instead!

Posted by Lee Taylor
08 November 2013
The Official Charts Company has confirmed this week that this year’s X Factor winner’s single will be released during the Christmas Number 1 sales week, following a two-year break from the Number 1 single race. 
 
The previous two X Factor winners James Arthur and Little Mix released their singles to reach the number one slot the week before Christmas, due to TV rescheduling. 
 
This followed a backlash against the TV show’s dominance of the charts which had seen five of the winners go to number one over Christmas in the last eight years. These were, Shayne Ward in 2005, Leona Lewis in 2006, Leon Jackson 2007, Alexandra Burke in 2008 and Matt Cardle in 2010. 
 
But in 2009, little Joe McElderry’s cover of Miley Cyrus’s The Climb was kept off the Official Christmas Singles Chart summit thanks to a social media campaign to get Rage Against The Machine’s 1993 single, Killing In The Name, to Number 1. 
 
This campaign was organized by husband and wife team Jon and Tracy Morter as a protest over X Factor creator Simon Cowell’s perceived monopoly of the Christmas singles market.
 
The Official Charts Company tells us that other potential contenders for Christmas number one could include 11-year-old choirboy Jack Topping with Tomorrow (from the musical Annie), Britain’s Got Talent finalists Richard & Adam with I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In (On Christmas Day), and Susan Boyle and Elvis Presley's O Come, All Ye Faithful. In addition,  911, Blue, 5ive, Atomic Kitten, Liberty X and B*witched will also be giving it a shot as part of the Big Reunion’s cover of Wizzard’s 1973 hit, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday.
 
Love it or loathe it, nobody can deny the influence of the X Factor however, nor the talent of many of the contestants who take part. Prison Officer Sam Bailey is currently the favourite to win with Luke Friend and Nicholas McDonald also frontrunners. 
 
Soundnet has always released free X Factor updates for its customers in the run-up to the final of the show. This is a popular service that allows jukeboxes to maximise income from the popularity of the show. However, if the X Factor is not popular down your local – then we can always organize an update of Rage Against The Machine instead!

Lou Reed – gone but not forgotten

Posted by Toby Hoyte
28 October 2013
“I’m not a human jukebox, I’m a musician,” the late Lou Reed is quoted as saying after he was criticized for not playing any crowd pleasing older tracks at a gig in Toronto. 
 
“Me, I think a real fan would be happy to hear whatever music you wanted to play, if they really cared about you,” he told the Toronto Star in a telephone interview in 2003. “If I went to see Al Green, I would be happy to hear Al read the phone book. That’s me.”
 
And while he may have a point, let’s face it most of us would still sympathize with those who turned up wanting to hear a few of their old favourites. 
 
Lou Reed, who died aged 71 this week had an impressive back catalogue that he could have drawn from, should he have been so inclined.  His hits were varied and some of them have become almost mainstream with popularity, such as “Perfect Day” and “Walk On The Wild Side” – despite the fact that he wrote about dark and seedy subjects such as drug abuse, sex and HIV. Perhaps because his simple melodies and softly drawled vocals seemed to tell their own stories to whoever listened and fell in love with them. 
 
His early success with Velvet Underground was limited at the time but has also been massive over the years – as music producer Brian Eno once said: "The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band."
 
Luckily as some of today’s jukeboxes, such as VenueHub, have access to over 7 million tracks, customers can still enjoy Lou Reed’s legacy both mainstream and obscure, whenever they want. Soundnet will also source and provide tracks for customers if they have any specific requests. If it is available in a recorded format we should be able to get our hands on it for you. 
 
So, while in our opinion nothing could be as great as hearing Lou Reed play live – whatever tracks he chose to play – we know that his brilliant and subversive music will carry on influencing and entertaining way into the future. 

You’re not playing that in my pub…

Posted by James Luck
08 October 2013

 Music can bring people together but it can also drive people apart. Nowhere is this truer than in the pub, where passions, sometimes fuelled by alcohol, can run high.

 
Playing an Oasis track on a jukebox in a Liverpool pub on match day could be seen as a challenge. Ask us here at Soundnet; we have had numerous requests from pubs to block certain artists and tracks – who although quite innocent of any real intent to offend, do so nonetheless, to certain groups of customers.
 
Luckily for us here at Soundnet, we are able to help with all of these requests. Not only do/can we profile sites before a jukebox goes into them, we also have an ongoing dialogue with customers over subsequent new music. Certain tracks or genres of music can be blocked easily by the site or operator at different times of day, as well, to minimize inflicting inadvertent discomfort to your clientele.
 
The fact is, that pubs are multi functional – there is a totally different group of customers who will come in at lunchtime, rather than in the evening. Clearly, a group of pensioners on a coach trip are not going to appreciate a lot of the music that would commonly be played by a younger clientele. So, it would be prudent to stick with the middle of the road before they hit the road.
 
Being music lovers here at Soundnet, we took on the challenge to seek out some of the most offensive songs ever released. Some of the titles were so bad we couldn’t actually write them down – but here is a small selection:
 
Frank Zappa – We’re Turning Again – from the album Have I Offended Someone? And yes, he did – just about everyone, in fact from Catholics, to the French, hippies to homosexuals.
 
Rap is a minefield for offense. The act 2 Live Crew and their song “Me So Horny” (2012) glorifies in its offensiveness as they refer to themselves as “dogs in heat” and far worse. Not one for the Darby and Joan.
 
Finally, are we alone in thinking that The Rolling Stones – Brown Sugar – despite being a fantastic tune has some seriously dubious sentiments? Or who indeed could forget the classic Relax from Frankie Goes to Hollywood – offensive, yes but a party classic nonetheless…
 

Music to drink beer to...

Posted by Toby Hoyte
02 October 2013
In the business of providing music for the UK’s pubs via a network of market-leading jukeboxes, there are some acts that resonate for more reasons than others. 
 
Take Chas & Dave for example. To some - slightly cheesy Cockney chappies who had plenty of “rabbit” and who were a mainstay of 80s primetime TV shows. To others they are proper pub musicians and keen observers of the social mores of a time – that was perhaps already gone even during their heyday. That was a time when a pub was not a place you went for food or to take the family, instead a pub was still a male dominated bastion of manly beer drinking, with a piano of course for the odd sing-song. 
 
Chas & Dave are not among the most widely played artists on today’s pub jukeboxes although they do in fact appear on one track that does still get a lot of credits down the pub. Here’s a good pub quiz fact – did you know that as session musicians Chas & Dave played on the Labi Siffre song “I Got The” which was famously sampled on Eminem’s, ‘My Name Is’?
 
Chas & Dave have actually reformed in recent months and announced this week that they will put out their first album in almost 2 decades. Their rise to fame is intrinsically linked to pubs – not only did they play in London pubs (Truman’s Beer put them on a circuit of their pubs before they signed for EMI) but also many of their songs were also inspired by pub life. 
 
"I'm in Trouble was one," Dave told The Guardian newspaper this week. "We saw a bloke in a pub. Barman picked the phone up, and the bloke was going: 'No! I'm not here.' Barman talked to the man's wife: 'No, he's not here, darlin'.' Bloke says: 'Oh, I'm in trouble.' And we wrote a song." 
 
In short, Chas & Dave provided music to drink beer to and that’s what we do here at Soundnet too. If you want to know more about the music we provide to the nation’s favourite jukeboxes get in touch with…
 

Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball hits the charts, but what do pubgoers think of the singer’s transformation?

Posted by James Luck
30 September 2013

Miley Cyrus’ transformation from America’s sweetheart to rebellious pop starlet has taken the music world by storm, and this week the Soundnet team had to stop and ask ourselves how pubgoers would react to the singer’s latest track.

Known by many for her lead role in Walt Disney’s TV series Hannah Montana, country-pop singer Miley Cyrus has generated extreme public interest in recent months, attracting comments from admiring fans and critics alike for her radical new image. This level of public interest can undoubtedly have a huge impact on demand for an artist’s music, driving customers in venues across the country to select Miley’s latest singles on their local pub jukebox.

Of course as the play-count racks up, so do profits, not only through jukebox takings but also through increased drink sales as customers return time after time to hear their favourite hits. Understanding this, Soundnet are committed to ensuring new chart tracks are added to the jukebox as rapidly as possible through the machine’s digital connection. With Miley’s new single though, Soundnet decided to pause before uploading the track.

Following on from Miley’s bold party hit of the summer, We Can’t Stop, the video for new single Wrecking Ball also features suggestive imagery, which some customers might frown on. Given this possibility, Soundnet felt it best to assess the suitability of the footage before broadcasting it on the big screen in local venues alongside jukebox plays.

In the end, the Soundnet team agreed Miley’s single is just another harmless pop track, and not likely to cause any offence. The team therefore decided to upload the track to the jukebox playlist immediately so landlords could benefit from the popularity of this catchy tune.

Contact Soundnet to learn more about how the team can personally advise on this most profitable, and most suitable, tracks for your venue.

Recent research shows that young adults have enduring emotional connections with music that was popular when their parents were young

Posted by Toby Hoyte
13 September 2013

Amongst many parents and their children, individual music tastes can often cause conflicts. However, recently published research has revealed that young adults obtain a strong, emotional connection with music that was popular when their parents were a similar age.

Conducted by Professor Carol Lynne Krumhansl from Cornell University and Justin Zupnick from the University of California, the study interviewed 62 participants in their twenties who were asked to listen to two chart-topping hits per year from 1955 until 2009. The study, published in the journal of Psychological Science, found that surprisingly, young adults appear to have a long-lasting, emotional connection to music that was popular among their parents at their age and continues on for generations.

“Music transmitted from generation to generation shapes autobiographical memories, preferences, and emotional responses, a phenomenon we call cascading ‘reminiscence bumps’”, explains Professor Krumhansl, lead researcher at Cornell University.

Commenting on the overall findings of the study, Professor Krumhansl later affirmed: “These new findings point to the impact of music in childhood and likely reflect the prevalence of music in the home environment”.

Here at SoundNet, we understand that for many venue owners, providing customers with a varied music selection to suit all generations can often be a challenge. Although new chart releases remain a popular choice for many, venue owners are encouraged to also address the current demand for older, classic hits.

Soundnet’s music service provides a diverse selection of over 7 million available tracks, containing a mix of iconic classics and recent chart-topping hits. Thanks to this extensive back catalogue, venue owners can offer all of the UK Top 40 tracks since 1952 as well as keeping up to date with the most current chart releases through frequent automatic digital jukebox updates.

For more information on how Soundnet can benefit your business and provide a varied music selection appealing to many generations, contact SoundNet.

Global or Local? Surprising research shows music fans favour local tracks over global hits.

Posted by Martin Davis
06 September 2013

Recently published research from the Economic Journal has found that many music fans may favour local artists over international hits.

The global study, conducted by Fernando Ferreira and Joel Waldfogel, surprisingly illustrated that a significant amount of consumers favored home-grown talent over international artists. Following these findings, additional results revealed that the internet and satellite television have in fact supported and increased the availability of local music more than the coverage of global, imported music.

Here at Soundnet, we understand the value consumers place on local music and encourage venue owners to support up-and-coming artists to entertain a new music loving crowd. With Soundnet’s Venue Favourites service, venue owners are able to request specific tracks to be added to their own digital jukebox, even including material from undiscovered local talent.

This is in addition to the digital jukebox’s wide-ranging, frequently updated back catalogue, keeping venue owners up to date with the latest chart releases as well as every UK Top 40 track since 1952.

Using the Venue Favourites feature, bars can reach out to a new audience, attracting fans of local talent to the venue to hear tracks from their favourite local band. This allows venue owners to boost earnings through both digital jukebox takings and food and drink sales. Of course, this option also brings major benefits for the artists themselves, allowing their music to be discovered by new fans across the region.

Pub and bar owners can even go a step further to entertain their customers and boost profits, through hosting live local music events within their venue. As SoundNet’s Venue Hub digital jukebox features a ‘What’s On’ event calendar application, venue owners can then advertise these events to consumers through the machine’s advanced touch screen interface.

For further information on how a digital jukebox could enable your venue to reach new, additional consumers in the local region, contact Soundnet.

Lady Gaga and Katy Perry forced to rush release singles to keep pace with fans’ appetite for new music

Posted by James Luck
19 August 2013

Music fans’ desire to hear the latest tracks before anybody else has pushed even international recording superstars Lady Gaga and Katy Perry to bring forward the release of their new singles, after illegal copies were leaked online.

Hackers gained access to Lady Gaga’s highly anticipated new track, ‘Applause’ and Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ days before the new material was set to reach record stores, sharing the releases with the online community. This triggered a wave of fans clamouring to access the illegal versions online, threatening sales through official outlets and forcing both artists to push forward the release dates for their music.

The fact that two major incidents like this occurred within the space of a week is a strong reminder of the significant effect digital sales channels and streaming sites have had on fans’ expectations within the music industry. With rapid online access, customers increasingly wish to be the first to hear new tracks, speeding up the rate at which a song’s popularity comes and goes.

For venue owners, this leads to a constant rush to keep up with the charts and provide customers with the music of the moment, which can prove to be a time-consuming task. Thankfully, as one of the UK’s leading jukebox suppliers, Soundnet recognises the impact the latest chart hits can have on a venue’s appeal and, in turn, takings.

In order to enable venue owners to really get the most out of their digital jukebox, Soundnet’s music services include regular automatic uploads of new material to add to the jukebox’s extensive back catalogue. What’s more, thanks to an exclusive partnership with the Official Charts Company, these additions include every new song and album to enter the official chart, uploaded to the jukebox within days of release.

For more information on how a digital jukebox could allow your venue to attract a new music loving crowd, contact Soundnet.

Customers call for better music discovery services from online streaming sites

Posted by Toby Hoyte
13 August 2013

Spotify has added a new Browse feature to its service, as music fans look for more convenient ways to uncover new favourite artists and tracks.

Amidst criticism that music streaming services offer little beyond search box functionality, market leader Spotify has come forth to offer customers a more intuitive way to browse its expansive track library. ‘Browse’ offers a specially selected series of playlists for users to explore, curated by Spotify users and staff alike and grouped by either genre, mood or context. As Spotify’s Vice President of Product Development, Charlie Hellman, explained to the Guardian;

"They have a whole bunch of music experts, and they comb through the vast array of playlists and pick out the ones that are resonating with users, and if they see a gap, they also create their own."

The new service underlines the value of tools to guide music fans looking to find new tracks to suit their tastes, given the endless variety of music now available online. Beyond the home, the same is also true of digital jukeboxes in venues throughout the country, with the latest VenueHub model offering access to over 7 million online tracks.

Thankfully for customers though, the VenueHub also offers an array of special features to help customers narrow down this extensive track library. The model’s intuitive search system allows users a number of different options for browsing, from artist and album searches to a date search feature showing the top 40 chart for any given date.

Beyond this, Last.FM app integration means jukebox users can import their Last FM profiles from home to access a pre-loaded library of their favourite tracks in the local pub or bar. Taking music discovery a step further still, the VenueHub’s Music Spider feature creates a simple way for fans to expand their musical horizons. Searching for a certain band or singer will return a visual display of similar artists for the user to explore, providing a convenient way to create a playlist of new tracks corresponding to their musical preferences.

To learn more about the innovative features modern digital jukeboxes offer to keep customers engaged, contact Soundnet.

Franz Ferdinand live-stream new album, as fans calls for first access to new music

Posted by Toby Hoyte
02 August 2013

With music fans becoming increasingly impatient to hear new releases, indie band Franz Ferdinand decided to treat fans to an exclusive performance of their entire upcoming album via the internet last week.

Following the birth of online streaming services, today’s consumers have come to expect rapid access to the latest chart hits, often looking to hear songs before they are even released. In response, several big name artists have begun offering supporters first-listen previews of their new material to create additional buzz ahead of a major release. As the most recent band to embrace this strategy, Franz Ferdinand streamed a live set of their new album through the David Letterman website last week, following an appearance on the US talk-show.

While this trend may be good news for music fans though, the rush to hear new material places pressure on venue owners to provide the same access to new music within their bar or pub. With many music services, this can involve a significant cost, in terms of both fees and the time it takes to source and purchase tracks on a regular basis. Thankfully, modern digital jukeboxes offer a simpler and more affordable solution that can even generate additional profit for the venue.

Through their online connection, the digital jukeboxes supplied by Soundnet, including the latest Sound Leisure VenueHub model, are automatically updated with new music twice weekly. Thanks to Soundnet’s partnership with the Official Charts Company, these regular updates include all new entries to the week’s official album and singles charts, as well as exclusive pre-release content from top artists.

This comprehensive service doesn’t have to come with a matching price tag either, as Soundnet offers venue owners a profit-share payment option, without any additional set-up charges or maintenance fees.

For full information on how digital jukeboxes enable venues to meet the ever-increasing expectations of today’s music fans, contact Soundnet.

Soundnet champions the spirit of discovering new music ahead of Glastonbury Festival

Posted by Toby Hoyte
25 June 2013

This weekend marks perhaps the most anticipated event of the year for UK festival-goers, as thousands flock to rural Somerset to enjoy the legendary Glastonbury festival.

Clearly, the big name artists headlining this year’s line-up, including the Rolling Stones, the Arctic Monkeys and Mumford and Sons, are guaranteed to draw the biggest crowds at the festival. For Soundnet though, the most inspiring aspect of the festival is the chance it gives music lovers to stumble across talented emerging artists and established bands they never knew they loved. Offering music from every genre under the sun over the course of the weekend, there really is something for absolutely everyone.

Understanding the joy of uncovering a new favourite band, Soundnet have tried to capture this spirit in venues across the country, through the easy-to-use music discovery features on the cutting edge VenueHub jukebox.

With a comprehensive back catalogue of up to 7 million tracks available through the jukebox’s digital connection, the VenueHub can even rival Glastonbury when it comes to music variety. This already extensive collection is automatically updated twice weekly with the latest chart entries and exclusive pre-release content, keeping the venue up to speed with music trends. While this may seem like a daunting degree of choice, the jukebox’s convenient browsing options, categorised by song name, artist, genre or even release date, mean songs can quickly be located.

For pub-goers looking to adventure beyond old favourites, the jukebox’s innovative Music Spider feature also creates a clever way to explore new music by delivering recommendations suited to the user’s personal tastes. Type in Oasis, for example, and Music Spider will suggest similar artists like Blur or The Verve. Through 15 second audio previews of the artists’ tracks, customers can then select songs to create a playlist of all the new artists they’re excited to start listening to.

To learn more about the intelligent features that make the VenueHub one of the most engaging jukeboxes available, contact Soundnet.

The power of the preview: sparking music fans’ curiosity with early releases

Posted by James Luck
29 May 2013

A growing trend has emerged for music artists to offer fans exclusive online previews of their tracks before they are even available for purchase, in order to generate hype for upcoming releases.

Electronic music duo Daft Punk broke numerous streaming records when a free preview of their new album was offered ahead of release, boosting the record to the top of the charts once it hit music stores. Since this triumph earlier in the month, rock band Queens of the Stone Age have followed Daft Punk’s tactics, announcing an exclusive iTunes streaming preview of their next album.

The success of this excitement-building technique demonstrates how the music industry has changed in recent years, as online streaming services mean consumers have come to expect almost instantaneous access to the latest tracks. For venue owners, this creates pressure to stay in touch with the charts in order to provide customers with the fresh musical offerings they can access online from home.

In order to meet this demand, Soundnet have signed an exclusive partnership deal with the Official Charts Company as the only jukebox provider to supply the Official UK Chart. Thanks to this deal, each week’s new chart entries on a Sunday can automatically be downloaded to a pub’s digital jukebox the very next day.

Staying a further step ahead, Soundnet’s jukebox music packages also include pre-release tracks from leading artists, some of which may not even be available yet via online streaming services. This places the pub jukebox ahead of the crowd as the first place to go to hear new music while the hype is at its peak. In turn, this has a significant impact on jukebox takings, since the chart and new releases category accounts for around eighty per cent of all jukebox selections.

To learn more about how Soundnet’s services help pub and bar owners get the most from their digital jukebox, contact Soundnet.

Uplifting anthems: music’s role in setting the mood

Posted by James Luck
24 May 2013

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.

Lifting the mood with new music

Posted by Toby Hoyte
16 April 2013

Through conducting a series of experiments using MRI scanners, Canadian scientists from the Montreal Neurological Institute have discovered listening to new music has a positive effect on brain activity.

Despite the fact music represents an abstract concept, the researchers observed that when played new tracks, the participants’ brain reactions mirrored those in situations where a subject expects to receive a reward such as food or money.

For Soundnet’s team of music enthusiasts, this finding was hardly surprising. We have always been passionate about discovering new music, from uncovering forgotten treasures or unknown independent artists to hearing the latest releases from big name artists. Of course, we know we aren’t the only ones, which is why our background music systems include a number of innovative features designed to aid music discovery.

Firstly, Soundnet hold an agreement with the Official Charts Company making us the only jukebox operator to feature the weekly chart on our jukeboxes. This partnership, combined with regular automatic updates of new releases and exclusive pre-release tracks, allows pubs to remain at the forefront of new music, with a knock-on effect on jukebox takings.

Stumbling across a new favourite song shouldn’t be limited to the latest artists though. With over 7 million songs available to access online through the latest VenueHub jukeboxes, there are thousands of music history’s biggest talents that you never realised you loved. Landlords even have the option to request additional tracks such as undiscovered local bands to add to the jukebox library.

This may sound like an overwhelming degree of choice, but Soundnet have solved this dilemma with a variety of intuitive ways to browse the music collection, a Last.Fm link-up and the clever Music Spider app. This last feature asks jukebox users to enter their favourite artist and automatically returns branches leading to other similar musicians, creating a trail of exploration specifically tailored to each customer’s tastes.

Through these engaging features, we’re proud to be able to say that digital jukeboxes help create a positive ambiance in pubs up and down the country by introducing patrons to great new music.

Soundnet delighted to see AIM Awards return to support independent artists

Posted by Martin Davis
16 April 2013

As self-confessed music obsessives, the Soundnet team were incredibly pleased to hear that the AIM Music Awards will return for a third year, paying tribute to the most talented independent artists in the business today.

Soundnet firmly believe in the importance of events like the AIMs to help unsigned artists gain vital recognition; just imagine where music would be if influential artists like The Beatles or Elvis had never been discovered.

High profile awards ceremonies are hardly the only way to raise awareness for promising independent musicians though. Soundnet are also working to use our position as the UK’s leading jukebox operator to support both landlords and local musical artists.

Through our specialist Venue Favourites service, Soundnet invites pub or bar owners to make their own specific requests to add to the VenueHub jukebox’s already extensive library of over 30,000 tracks. This serves as a great way for landlords to showcase up-and-coming artists from the local area, and can help them earn a significant rise in jukebox takings as the artists’ friends and families select their tracks.

Holding live music nights featuring these independent musicians within the pub or bar can then extend this fan-base further, benefiting both the artist and the venue as new crowds are drawn in.

Many landlords might presume that a jukebox competes with live music, but in fact the opposite is true. Soundnet’s jukeboxes can be programmed to keep crowds entertained during intervals or while events are being set up, preventing a lull in the ambiance. More importantly, the jukebox’s touchscreen display serves as a perfect medium for advertising a calendar of upcoming events and providing preview tracks from the artists involved.

Used together, these strategies enable a pub to establish itself as the hub of local music, creating a sense of community that sets it apart from the competition.

Soundnet reveals the Brit Effect on the digital jukebox chart

Posted by Toby Hoyte
01 March 2013

This week, the nobility of the British pop world gathered in London to celebrate their own in the annual Brit Awards. Hosted by the affable James Cordon, the event was watched live on ITV by 6.5 million viewers and saw Ben Howard, Frank Ocean and Mumford and Sons claim accolades throughout the night.

But, winners of the Brit Awards usually enjoy more than the commendation of their peers; seeing sales of their music skyrocket after the event. Sales of Ben Howard's debut album, Every Kingdom, increased 320 per cent following his wins for British male and British Breakthrough act. The record currently sits at number nine in the charts, after rising from 46th place, while sales of Howard's single 'Only Love' increased by 1,156 per cent after it was performed during the ceremony. Frank Ocean's album Channel Orange enjoyed an overnight increase in sales by 136 per cent, while Muse saw their album, The Second Law, experience a 103 per cent spike.

Here at Soundnet, we've also seen 'The Brits Effect' take hold on our digital jukebox chart, with big rises for Mumford and Sons, Ben Howard and Adele across our jukeboxes over the United Kingdom. Emeli Sande, winner of the Best female solo artist, proudly sits in 7th place in our jukebox chart with her record 'Clown'. Sande also claimed the Mastercard British album of the year, although over the next week, we expect to see more award-winning artists from the ceremony creep into the Soundnet chart.

Over the course of a year, the Soundnet chart will be dramatically influenced by events in the music industry. Award-winning acts and singers will often creep back into the chart long after the release of a single or album, purely based on an award win or an appearance at The Grammys or the Mercury Music prize. It's an event which goes to prove that customers will always seek out the most relevant music for their local bar or club.

Contact one of the Soundnet team today to discover more about a digital jukebox can help increase turnover in your venue.

Taylor Swift shuns Spotify, but not the Jukebox

Posted by Lee Taylor
16 November 2012

Recent MTV European Music Award winning artist Taylor Swift has announced she won’t be sharing her latest album on Spotify, though thankfully it will still appear on Soundnet’s Jukeboxes.

Spotify is not the only streaming service to be hit by Swift’s decision to withhold her new material. As reported by Garett Kamps, senior director of Content Programming for rival streaming service, Rhapsody;

“Taylor Swift and her management made a decision not to make her new album available to Rhapsody’s million-plus subscribers.”

Swift is the latest in a series of big name artists to have decided not to allow online streaming sites to offer her tracks, following in the footsteps of Adele and Coldplay. These superstars have argued that releasing their new material on Spotify threatens sales revenues.

Music fans will be disappointed to learn that the delay before Swift’s most recent recording makes it onto streaming sites like Spotify, Deezer and Rhapsody could last several months at least. Worse still, Adele’s fans were forced to hold out 18 months before they could listen to her last album on Spotify.

Luckily, this may present pub landlords with an opportunity to tempt music lovers out of their houses, as Soundnet’s digital jukebox packages can legally offer all the latest releases without a delay, including Swift’s new album.

In fact, some select tracks are even available before they’ve been officially released. Thanks to this option, customers in pubs already featuring a Soundnet jukebox were able to hear Swift’s last two singles ‘We are never ever getting back together’ and ‘I knew you were trouble’ before they hit the charts.

Clearly, this provides a much sought-after form of entertainment for music fans and creates an enjoyable atmosphere for pub-goers. More importantly, however, it also constitutes a way for pubs to boost their profits, as digital jukeboxes offer a highly cost-effective way to comply with music licensing laws and a lucrative second income stream.

To discover more about tapping into a new market of music fans, read up on the various jukebox music packages available through Soundnet.

Soundnet’s Milestones in Music digital jukebox package features in Cheryl Cole video

Posted by Martin Davis
05 October 2012

The jukebox has been a much-loved addition to bars and pubs for decades and, as the times change, its charm only seems to become more attractive for pub-goers. The technology that powers jukeboxes has, however, changed dramatically since its invention over 100 years ago.

This mix of old and new is captured perfectly by the new video from Cheryl Cole. The video for the single ‘Under the Sun’ features a 60’s inspired theme and begins with Cheryl selecting a track from a retro-effect jukebox in the corner of a smoky pub. AlthoFenugh, while this jukebox may look old-fashioned, it is in fact a digital jukebox by Sound Leisure equipped with Soundnet’s Milestones in Music package.

Much like in the video, this digital jukebox package champions the greatest hits of the past, including every single top 40 song since records began. As a special search feature, this model also gives customers the chance to check out the full chart of songs that were popular for a specific date, allowing them to re-live the best musical moments of years gone by.

But, the Milestones in Music package isn’t just home to the pop hits of yesteryear and this digital jukebox is updates twice a week, adding over 200 new song selection choices per month. This combination of old and new means there’s a song choice for every pub-goer, whether they want to play Cheryl’s latest hit or recreate the feel of the video by selecting a few tracks from the 60s.

To discover more about the Milestones in Music package’s unique blend of modern and retro features, contact one of the Soundnet team.

Consumers want variety in beer and background music systems

Posted by Lee Taylor
04 October 2012

New research from The Campaign for Real Ale has revealed that there are over 1,000 breweries operational across the United Kingdom; the highest total currently in business since the 1930s.

The findings, which are included in the 2013 edition of iconic publication ‘The Good Beer Guide’, discovered that there were 1,009 breweries now operating in the country. Over the past 12 months, a record-breaking 158 breweries were opened across the United Kingdom; twice as many breweries open when compared to a decade ago.

Speaking about the finding, Roger Protz, the editor of The Good Beer Guide, said:

“The UK beer and pub industry has changed enormously over the last 40 years…A double-dip recession has done nothing to halt the incredible surge in the number of brewers coming on steam, making the small brewing sector one of the most remarkable UK industry success stories of the last decade.

“[It] shows how brilliantly diverse our pub industry remains,” he added.

The news from The Good Food Guide highlights the continuing consumer demand for variety in the drinking experience. The same philosophy can be applied to the atmosphere of a bar or pub. Customers want the opportunity to enjoy themselves in a venue which helps them relax and socialise. But, variety is the spice of life.

A background music system allows bar and club owners to provide their customers with the perfect ambiance for their evening out. The Soundnet background music system lets owners create and manage their own tailored playlist, ensuring that patrons have a continuing variety of songs and music. So, whether you own a bar, pub, club or café, you can be sure that your patrons will keep on coming back for more.

Contact one of the Soundnet team to discover how a background music system could help you create the perfect atmosphere in your pub or club.

Download Festival in a digital jukebox

Posted by Lee Taylor
15 June 2012

Last week, the prestigious rock festival Download celebrated its 10th year. The weekend event, which sees 105,000 revellers travel to Donnington Park in Leicestershire, has been running since 2003, offering heavy metal fans the chance to see some of the biggest legends in rock.

This year, Download Festival played host to a number of high-profile bands and acts in 2012 included The Prodigy, Slash, Metallica and Black Sabbath. As you'd expect, the festival is exceptionally popular with fans of the genre (the Twitter profile of the event has over 14,000 followers) and its continuing success have led to organisers considering hosting identical events across Europe.

Speaking to Musicweek, Andy Copping, the man responsible for booking the 148 acts for Download, offers an interesting perspective on the mentality of the crowd at the festival.

"Download isn’t about knuckle-dragging bikers – a real cross-section of people come here. Rock isn’t a dirty word. The atmosphere and the vibe at Download are wonderful – so if you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it."

 

The popularity of Download Festival highlights the consistent popularity of the rock and metal genre. Indeed, at Soundnet, we're aware of the durability of the genre and cater for this very audience with our digital rock box package. This digital jukebox provides audiences with the latest tracks from the rock, indie and alternative universe and a number of the bands featured at this year's Download festival can be found on the package.

And while the Soundnet Rockbox digital jukebox package won't be suitable for all in-store music selections, it's the perfect choice for venues who want to cater to a very distinctive audience. Contact one of the Soundnet team today to discover more about this digital jukebox option.

Digital jukebox holograms?

Posted by James Luck
10 May 2012

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.

Digital jukebox tributes to Houston

Posted by Martin Davis
20 February 2012

We were all saddened to hear about the death of musical legend Whitney Houston last week. Houston, who passed away last weekend, was one of the greatest musical talents to come out of America; her path-finding career saw her become the most-awarded female artist of all time. Furthermore, she's been said to have been the inspiration for the careers of Leona Lewis, Alicia Keys and Lady Gaga.

Houston's discography includes a number of iconic tracks and since her death in Los Angeles on Sunday, sales of the singer's albums have rocketed on both sides of the Atlantic. Whitney – The Greatest Hits is currently paced at two in the US iTunes chart, while in the UK, Whitney Houston – The Ultimate Collection is currently second in the British equivalent. What's more, across the country her hits have been selected by Soundnet jukebox customers; her music has provided the digital jukebox music in pubs, restaurants and bars throughout the week.

Since Houston's death, we've seen Whitney Houston overtake The Beatles as the most-played artist in the past week, doubling the number of plays of the classic Liverpudian band. The three most popular songs from Houston's collection are 'I will always love you', 'I wanna dance with somebody' and 'One moment in time.'

Soundnet’s Toby Hoyte said:

“From a customer profile perspective, it is interesting that the sudden increase in Whitney Houston plays demonstrates that a good digital jukebox caters not only for the younger crowd but for also the older generation, as most of these plays will have come from older customers.

"Opweb is a breakthrough on all levels as it enables us to monitor customers’ preferences in real time and operators to remotely configure their jukeboxes accordingly. High tech systems combined with our specialised experience keep us at the forefront of the industry, instantly providing the music that customers want to hear."

In order to enable operators to cater for the increase in demand for Houston's song, we'll be sending all digital jukebox subscribers a free 20-track 'Tribute to Whitney' playlist to all Milestones in Music and VHub jukeboxes.

Wherever You Are

Posted by Toby Hoyte
08 December 2011

The race to the Christmas number one single got a little bit more interesting last week. While we'd resigned ourselves to another X Factor whitewash for Christmas number one, 2011 looks like it might be a little more unpredictable after we cottoned onto the fact that Gareth Malone's Military Wives' Choir would be releasing a single in time for the 25th. If you've not heard of the Military Wives' Choir, a 200-plus group of women who sung their hearts out on BBC2's The Choir in November, take a moment out of your day and cast your eyes over this. Try not to cry.

The above single, 'Wherever You Are', has been hotly tipped to peak at number one this month. After the song was televised on The Choir, Radio 2 breakfast jockey Chris Evans immediately began lobbying for its release in time for Christmas. Since then, the song has been tipped to get number one by us, HMV and William Hill (it's 8/13 to win, compared to X Factor's entry at 6/5). Here at Soundnet, we're very excited to see if it will win.

'Wherever You Are' is released to the general populace on the 19th December. What's more, all proceeds from the sale of the single goes to the Royal British Legion and SSAFA Forces Help. It is the season of goodwill, after all.

Christmas singles make an appearance

Posted by Toby Hoyte
30 November 2011

Christmas is just 25 days away. In less than a month, we'll be toasting our marshmallows on an open fire, pulling open crackers with granny and basking in the warm feeling which comes from seeing the X-Factor miss out on the number one single courtesty of a choir of Military Wives. (But more on that next week).

Still, despite the fact that there's still some daylight between us and the 25th, the very first Christmas songs started sneaking into the best-selling chart this week. 20 years to the week after it made its debut in the world, The Pogues/Kirsty MacColl collaboration, Fairytale of New York, snuck into the top-selling singles. Incredibly, this makes it the seventh December in a row which has seen the record nip into the Top 75 chart. If you're interested, 7,034 sales of the song were made last week. 7,034 of you have put your Christmas tree up far too early.

But McGowan wasn't the only aging rock star to be celebrating the reappearance of their only successful contribution to the Christmas season. Mariah Carey joined in the premature festivities with her 1994 classic 'All I Want For Christmas Is You', seeing the record sell 5,200 units over the week.

Expect to get more than a few sightings of old Mariah over the next four weeks; you'll hear the song from the mouths of Michael Buble, Justin Bieber and the Cast of Glee in the run up to Christmas. All three release their own interpretation of the song as we edge closer to the 25th.

All we want for Christmas is a bit of imagination. And maybe a 'White Christmas'.

Music tops Christmas giftlist

Posted by James Luck
24 November 2011

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:

  • Take That, Progress (2010)
  • Susan Boyle, I Dreamed a Dream (2009)
  • Take That, The Circus (2008)
  • Leona Lewis, Spirit (2007)
  • Take That, Beautiful World (2006)
  • Eminem, Curtain Call (2005)
  • Robbie Williams, Greatest Hits (2004)
  • Dido, Life for Rent (2003)
  • Robbie Williams, Escapeology (2002)
  • Robbie Williams, Swing When You're Winning (2001)
  • The Beatles, 1 (2000)

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.

Hit me baby, one more time

Posted by James Luck
28 September 2011

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).

Mercury Rising

Posted by Toby Hoyte
13 September 2011

Last week, we celebrated the birthday of pop's greatest heroes as Freddie Mercury, the iconic Queen front man, turned 65 year's old. Or he would have done, had he not passed away in 1991.

Mercury is a hero to those of us who worship at the altar of pop music. He has been voted the greatest male singer of all time on several occasions and we've received more than three invites to Queen-themed parties this weekend. But, if you're thinking of celebrating one of music's leading men with a gathering, here's the Soundnet guide to hosting your very own Queen-themed shindig.

Fancy dress.

It's time to dig out that golden blazer and dress to impress. Celebrate the life of Freddie by dressing to excess; we're talking white vests, bright jackets and leather trousers. Don't worry if you don’t own any of those clothes. Your wardrobe from the 1970s should be able to help you out.

The moustache

Of course, the Mercury look wouldn't be complete without an impressive lip rat and you'll be expected to have cultivated an impressive nose warmer by the day of the party. If you're struggling to obtain the necessary facial hair though, it's perfectly acceptable to grab one from the fancy dress box. Or the nose of the nearest stranger.

The music

Naturally, all Queen parties need Queen songs. Thankfully, you'll be able to hear dozens of the band's iconic tracks on our digital jukeboxes, providing you're hosting the party in a venue which has sensibly decided to go with the Soundnet system. If they're really smart, the place will also have the music video package, so you'll be able to watch Freddie strut his stuff while you all sing along.

Tonight, I'm gonna' have a ball. Etc, etc.

Farewell fair festival season

Posted by Toby Hoyte
25 August 2011

The festival season is drawing to a close and hasn't it been eventful? We've seen Beyoncé shake her booty, Bono natter with astronauts on the International Space Station and Lady Gaga mystify the crowds of Carlisle with a jazz set. It's truly been a memorable year.

Still, all good things must come to an end and this weekend sees the close of the traditional festival season with the Leeds and Reading Festivals. It's been a musical summer of rubbish weather, excessive television coverage on BBC3 and amazing acts. And it's all coming to a close.

So this weekend, we raise a jar to the indie heroes playing the festival season out. Elbow, The Strokes and Pulp have all made themselves available for the three day musical extravaganza and, while the weather may be worse that Muse's back-catalogue, at least the bands will be good.

Still, if you’ve not had the pleasure of camping in a damp, crowded field of Muse fans, we think we're able to offer you a solution. That is to say, a better solution than pulling your dad's tent from out the shed.

At Soundnet, we're especially proud of our extensive music collection; we have a knack for keeping on top of music trends, whether it's from emerging artists, old vanguards of the rock era or overrated bands that just keep on plugging away. Like Muse. But there's no accounting for taste.

Our digital jukeboxes ensure that we're able to offer a range of amazing tracks, regardless of musical sensibilities. It's one of the reasons why we're the leading provider of venue sound systems in the United Kingdom. So, even if you didn't get the chance to go to Leeds, Reading, Glastonbury, Carlisle this year, you can still listen to your favourite artists when you're in the dry comfort of your local. 

The power of the music video

Posted by Toby Hoyte
16 August 2011

Those of you familiar with our Milestones in Music Video package will not need convincing about the power of the music video. Ever since Michael Jackson raises the bar with his music video for 'Thriller', bands have been attempting to create visual spectacles equal to the quality of their music. And music fans love them; our Milestones in Music video package is one of the most popular for venues across the UK. So, to celebrate the power of the music video, here are five of our favourite music videos:

Coldplay – The Scientist

This is a wonderfully shot video which never fails to bring a tear to the eye. The song perfectly matches the melancholy on screen; it's a guaranteed tear-jerker.

Weezer – Buddy Holly

Directed by Spike Jonze, this clever little video sees US band Weezer cameo in an episode of Happy Days. Despite being filmed in 1994, the video neatly ties in clips of The Fonz and the rest of the cast with the band playing on stage.

Blur – Coffee & TV

This excellent video won the best Video Award at the 2000 NME awards. The spectacle, which follows the quest of a milk carton searching for a missing Graham Cox, is a lovely bit of work.

Lady Gaga – Telephone

Racking up at an incredible nine minutes, this music video is a homage to product placement and Quentin Tarantino. A bizarre video which, if ever played, is guaranteed to get people turning their head towards the digital jukebox.

Ok Go – Any song

OK Go have a tendency to go a bit overboard with their videos. Whether it's the choreographed treadmill madness of 'Here it Goes Again' or the simple dancing moves of 'A Million Ways', the band are famous for producing videos which capture the imagination. This particular track, 'This Too Shall Pass" is quite a feat of ingenuity.

Farewell proud Leons

Posted by Martin Davis
15 August 2011

Women across the country let out a collective 'oh, that's not brilliant news' this week as rumours began circulated regarding the fate of the US band Kings of Leon.

The reason for this collective groan came from reports that the American four-piece, fronted by their dreamy Caleb Followill, would soon be no more; the band recently cancelled their US tour quoting 'exhaustion', while Jared Followill tweeted the band had 'big problems'. The bell, if news sources are to be believed, is about to toll for the US group. Still, it's not all bad news and those ladies keen to keep the memory of their favourite band alive will be able to do so via the magic of Soundnet.

Indeed, we're proud to play host to a number of the Kings of Leon's greatest hits. Load up any Soundnet machine and you'll be able to play a barn-full of hits from the Tennessee rockers, including Sex on Fire, Molly's Chambers, Use Somebody and The Immortals. But, only if you really want to. We're not just celebrating the career of this particular band though and, here at Soundnet, we're honoured to offer a collection of songs from groups who have long since broken up.

On our MiM package, you'll find hits from the likes of Girls Aloud, Destiny's Child and Westlife. To play it, your customers just need to enter the song title or band name. We offer this service, because we believe that a good song shouldn't disappear with the demise of the band that created it. Good music crosses decades and great tracks, music from Queen, The Beatles and Pink Floyd, crosses generations. You'll need a digital jukebox that accommodates that then.

Our top tracks

Posted by Lee Taylor
13 July 2011

The Soundnet 'Milestones in Music' package is one of the most popular choices for our loyal band of subscribers. The selection, which includes every top 40 chart hit since records began, is available on Soundnet digital jukeboxes across the country; it's one of the most popular collections for the nation's musical lovers.

Being the curious cats that we are, we asked the Soundnet team to tell us their favourite track from the Milestones in Music package. Here's what they came up with:

"I'm a huge fan of Coldplay. Given the choice, I'd put on 'The Scientist' or 'Talk'. They're both brilliant songs; they remind me of my time at university."

'The Scientist' was released in 2002 and reached position 10 in the charts. 'Talk' was released in 2005 and reached the same chart position.

"I would have to say 'Love will tear us apart' by Joy Division. It's one of the most iconic songs and its continuing popularity – ranked as the best single of all time by NME in 2002 – just demonstrates what a brilliant track it really is."

'Love will tear us apart' was released in 1980 and charted at number 13 in the United Kingdom.

"'I bet you look good on the dancefloor' was the first single for the Arctic Monkeys and it's still their best effort to date. It's a great little number and well worth a listen."M

'I bet you look good on the dancefloor' was released in October, 2005. It peaked at the number one spot.

"Even though Gareth Gates tried to destroy my goodwill towards the song, Elvis' 'Suspicious minds' is my favourite track. It's a perfect song, with a quick tempo and great lyrics. Brilliant stuff."

'Suspicious minds' was released in 1969. It reached the number two spot in the UK.

So, a wide-range of opinions from the Soundnet team. It just goes to show that, whatever the age, we all have a different taste in music. It's a good job that that there are so many different songs on offer in our digital jukeboxes then.

Soundnet jukeboxes: Happy Days

Posted by Toby Hoyte
01 July 2011

We've been seeing a lot of Henry Winkler on our televisions recently. The actor, famed for appearing in the classic US sitcom Happy Days, has been doing the rounds on a number of chat shows in the UK in order to promote his new book. Still, no matter how many pantomimes the actor appears in, we can't help but still fondly remember the man from his stint as The Fonz.

Now, The Fonz was a cool chap. He drove a motorbike and, with a flick of his elbow, could get the old-fashioned jukebox in Arnold's Drive In to blast out the latest tune from the 1950s. Still, we can't help but wonder how our Fonzie would react when faced with Soundnet digital jukeboxes. Not well, we'd imagine.

For a start, our digital jukeboxes have thousands of songs in. While the music machines in 'Happy Days' were only capable of playing a few dozen hits, the Soundnet range features more tracks than you can shake a knickerbocker glory at. Indeed, our latest model includes all the hits from the 1950s to the present day. That's around 4.5 million songs.

Secondly, our digital jukeboxes are all touchscreen. There's none of the hassle of cycling through an album collection with a Soundnet machine. Simply type in the artist name or song and select your track. We can’t even begin to imagine how The Fonz would react to these magical touchscreens from the future.

And finally, our jukeboxes don't break. While The Fonz had to give the Happy Days machine a bit of a kick to get it into gear, our machines are reliable little things, always ready to offer your customers the latest and greatest songs.

So, if you're venue is in danger of 'jumping the shark', give us a call and ask about our excellent digital jukeboxes. Happy days, indeed.

Glasgow: The home of new music?

Posted by Toby Hoyte
02 June 2011

Glasgow: famous for its architecture, cultural legacy and inappropriate fried food. But, did you know that it’s also a city with a global reputation for good music?

Indeed, Scotland’s second city has a lot of music muscle; Franz Ferdinand, Travis, Snow Patrol and office-favourites Belle and Sebastian all call Glasgow home and, way back in 2004, the bastion of American journalism Time claimed that Glasgow was the ‘secret capital’ of pop music. We quote:

“Glasgow is a rock of the north with an embarrassment of (musical) riches. In musical terms, think Detroit in the Sixties and Seattle in the early Nineties; that’s Glasgow.”

Strong praise indeed. But since then, the musical pedigree of the city has continued to grow and the likes of The Fratellis, and Glasvegas have all emerged from the city’s streets. In 2010, the city was appointed a UNESCO City of Music and in 2009, was the home of that year’s MOBO awards. It seems Glasgow’s musical pedigree is not to be sniffed at; the inhabitants have music in their blood and they take the whole thing very seriously.

 

It seems appropriate then that Glasgow has one of the largest collection of Soundnet digital jukeboxes. Wander into most bars, pubs and hotels in the city and you’re likely to hear the music from one of our boxes providing the soundtrack to enthusiastic chats about the next big thing.

Here at Soundnet, we’re honoured to contribute to the blossoming music scene in the city. Indeed, given our track record of uploading the newest bands and tracks for punters, you can expect to find the latest Glaswegian find on our jukeboxes; primed and ready to be played. Because we trust in new music.

Adele breaks records

Posted by Toby Hoyte
04 May 2011

Sultry soul singer Adele is having a good 2011. Her second studio album, 21, has now spent 14 weeks in the top 40 album chart, having topped the pile for 11 consecutive Sundays. She's sold over 1.5 million copies of that record and, if you're one for these sorts of stats, the only solo artist to have spent longer as the number one album is Phil Collins with 'But Seriously' in 1989. Seriously.

But it's not just the music-buying crowd that have embraced Adele and her bellowing whale-lungs. Here at Soundnet, we've seen the seamless songstress firmly embed herself into our most-popular track chart.

Currently, Adele has two tracks in our top-30 songs: the bass-thumping 'Rolling in the Deep' and the tender 'Someone Like You'. Both have been a permanent feature in our chart since their individual release and they don't look to be sliding down into the depths anytime soon.

But, it's not just Adele who is making a habit of sticking around the Soundnet chart. Cee Lo Green, Bruno Mars and Rihanna have all been permanent features in the top 30, lurking in the top half of the chart for several weeks. Each of these artists currently has an album in the Top 40 chart.

Here at Soundnet, we realise that music fans want to hear their favourite artists when they're out and about. As a result, it's of little wonder that the UK's favourite singers and bands appear all over our top 30 record chart. We pride ourselves on providing the best (and latest) music to our jukeboxes, however long they decide to stay in the charts. Even if it is Phil Collins.

Michael Jackson statue courts controversy

Posted by Toby Hoyte
11 April 2011

Michael Jackson fans were up in arms this week after Fulham FC owner Mohamed Al Fayed unveiled a controversial statue of the late singer outside the club's football ground. The monument, which has been described by art critics as ' almost so bad it's almost good', 'creepy', and 'a little bit nasty', has angered fans of the pop icon.

Supporters of the singer have reacted badly to the statue, which you can see here, with many claiming the monument is an insult to the King of Pop.

"The statue doesn't even look like Michael Jackson," said one fan.

But, Mohamed Al Fayed, who considered himself a personal friend to Jackson, responded strongly to the criticism.

"If they don't understand and don't believe in things I believe in, they can go to Chelsea, they can go to anywhere else," he told the BBC.

"He [Jackson] loved Fulham and he wanted to attend all of the matches," Al Fayed added.

But fans of the football club were less then complimentary about the statue with one fan stating: "It makes the club look silly. I thought it was an April Fools joke."

Here at Soundnet, we’re in no position to critique monuments of modern art; we would rather remember the King of Pop through his music.

Indeed, subscribers to our service will be able to offer their punters a host of classic Jackson songs and customers can enjoy classics like 'Thriller', 'Billie Jean' and 'Smooth Criminal' straight from our jukeboxes.

Of course, if you'd prefer to listen to some more contemporary artists, you can also direct your customers to other classic pop artists. Indeed, this week's chart sees entries for pop queens Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Alexis Jordan. You'll just have to blame us for the boogie.

Someone like Adele

Posted by James Luck
01 April 2011

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. 

Faster than the speed of Soundnet!

Posted by Toby Hoyte
24 March 2011

At Soundnet, we know our jukebox customers like new music. In fact, they like it so much, 85 per cent of all the tracks played on our digital jukeboxes are new releases or recent chart hits.

As a company, we pride ourselves on getting the latest tunes to our customers - from new releases to nostalgic re-entries - although recently, we've even impressed ourselves.

Last month, cult British band Radiohead announced the launch of their eighth studio album, The King of Limbs, on the 14th of February. Five days later, the album was released in a download format. The record was an instant success and received rave reviews.

While the physical copy won’t be available until May, the team here at Soundnet outdid themselves by offering the album on all online connected Milestones jukeboxes the Monday after its release.

In order to ensure customers have the best opportunity to maximize the revenues surrounding the release, we have already sent out the album for standard MIMs and it is also available on request for SNUK (at no extra cost).

But, we’re not just Radiohead fans. We’re also offering customers free live performances for this year’s Brit Award performances, featuring spectacular one-off songs by Arcade Fire, Adele, Rihanna and Plan B.

Speaking to the Soundnet blog, James Luck said:

“We pride ourselves on offering the best possible service to our customers and that means providing the music people want to hear when it is topical and relevant.”

In the past we have provided special playlists for Michael Jackson after his death, for the Beatles Remastered album when it was in the news and we also offer a popular X Factor service after each show."

Everyone at Soundnet lives and breathes music and we know that many people who spend money on jukeboxes feel the same way. Soundnet customers can relax in the knowledge that we will keep their jukeboxes as up to date as possible – even ahead of the shops or radio stations.”

Are your downloads at risk?

Posted by Lee Taylor
17 March 2011

With music fans' buying habits changing dramatically over the past few years you might assume that home insurance would cover downloaded songs as standard – but you'd be wrong. According to Which? around a third of home insurance providers don't cover downloads as part of their standard policies, meaning that in the event of an accident any downloaded songs would be lost without the possibility of compensation. As Britain's music industry moves ever further towards a download culture, with over 100 million tracks already being downloaded per year, this may come as a surprise for some consumers.

Anyone who frequently downloads, therefore, is advised to check their policy and ensure that their downloaded are covered by their current deal, or if not to look into a policy which does cover them. Insurers such as Direct Line and Privilege offer up to £1,000 worth of cover for downloads, with Hiscox' cover extending up to £2,500. Which? also advise heavy downloaders to invest in an external hard drive to act as a backup should anything go wrong with their PC – at least that way a bug in the system won't leave their record collection in the recycle bin. 

Pop becomes even more immediate

Posted by James Luck
14 March 2011

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.

Is Rock really dead?

Posted by Toby Hoyte
09 March 2011

Paul Gambaccini is a mainstay of talking heads shows about music, with an impressive pedigree in the study of pop's glittering history. With that in mind, when he declares rock dead, fans of the genre should take serious notice – could it be true the days of rocking out are really coming to a close? Gambaccini points to the fact that just three of the top 100 selling singles in the UK in 2010 could be filed under the rock genre, with the charts and airwaves now dominated by R'n'B, Hip Hop and Pop.

There's no doubt that the charts aren't exactly drowning in guitar riffs, but it's not the end of rock as we know it. Just because the current crop of bands aren't topping the charts doesn't mean they're petering out – the live scene is thriving, festivals are sold out in seconds and there are whole TV stations dedicated to the heavier side of things. The charts tend to be cyclical, and while we might have to wait a while for boys and girls in bands to be clogging up the top 10, it's certainly not the end of guitar, bass drums and amps that go up to 11. 

Pick of the BRITs nominees

Posted by Lee Taylor
14 January 2011

This February will see a new, improved BRIT Awards at London's O2 Arena, and the nominations have been announced for the overhauled celebration of British music. To get you in the mood, why not have a listen to the key tracks from the contenders for British Album Of The Year:

Mumford & Sons: Sigh No More
The folk-influenced Mumford & Sons have become unlikely superstars, more hoe-down than hedonism, their album turned into a word-of-mouth sensation.
Must-hear: Awake My Soul

Plan B: The Defamation of Strickland Banks
Plan B's first album was an angry slice of Hip Hop, so his return as a suited and booted soul-singing star with proper pop star potential was a real surprise.
Must-hear: She Said

Take That: Progress
The reunited man band smashed records with their comeback as a five-piece, and it's set them up for their full-on tour in 2011/
Must-hear: The Flood

Tinie Tempah: Disc-Overy
Tinie Tempah's the new king of grime, and has the most nominations at this year's BRITs with an impressive four, including the biggie: best album.
Must-hear: Pass Out

The xx: xx
These dubstep-infused South Londoners may make gloomy, atmospheric music but had plenty to be cheery about in 2010, including a Mercury Music Prize win.
Must-hear: VCR

Cage against the machine

Posted by Lee Taylor
15 December 2010

The entertainment juggernaut that is X Factor came to a glittery conclusion this weekend, but, despite huge ratings and acres of press coverage, Matt Cardle will be forgiven for being a little on edge about his chart-topping prospects for one reason: last year's Facebook campaign. In previous years the X Factor winner was guaranteed the festive number one, but a highly-orchestrated online campaign in 2009 saw Joe McElderry's cover of The Climb pipped to the top by Rage Against The Machine's swear-packed classic, Killing In The Name.

This year the Internet tricksters are trying to provide another demonstration of people power, and the 'song' of choice is avant-garde composer John Cage's infamous 4'33 – a performance piece in which musicians don't play their instruments for four minutes, 33 seconds, and the ensuing silence is recorded. It doesn't look like Cage will join Rage at the top, however, with early figures showing that the re-recorded composition is unlikely to bother the top 20, despite featuring the likes of Billy Bragg, and members of The Kooks and Madness. Matt Cardle's clear bookies' favourite with his version of Many Of Horror by rockers Biffy Clyro – cunningly Cardle-ised under the new title When We Collide.

Music industry pays price of piracy

Posted by James Luck
26 October 2010

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."

Oddest collaborations in pop

Posted by James Luck
05 October 2010

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.

David Bowie and Bing Crosby

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.

Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue

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.

Shaun Ryder and Russell Watson

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.

Lady GaGa and Michael Bolton

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.

Pavarotti and U2

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.

Music industry recovery

Posted by James Luck
29 September 2010

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 jailed

Posted by James Luck
17 September 2010

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:

The Rolling Stones

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

Pete Doherty

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

Phil Spector

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

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

Ian Brown

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

Eminem and Rihanna video controversy

Posted by Lee Taylor
13 September 2010

Not for the first time in his career, Detroit rapper Eminem is courting controversy. The video for his new single Love The Way You Lie has been causing debate and argument among bloggers and music fans over its depiction of domestic violence. The subject matter is close to Eminem's own heart, and to his guest vocalist Rihanna's, both of whom have been involved in very public abusive relationships.

Starring Hollywood pin-up Megan Fox and Brit actor Dominic Monaghan as a fiery couple, the aggression they show each other has prompted some critics to slam the video as glamorising domestic violence, including Entertainment Weekly in the States which wrote "All the rage and beatings are lit in a very dramatic and sexy way, because the people doing the raging and beating are very lithe and muscular and gorgeous."

Scenes which have proved particularly devisive include Monaghan punching dry-wall, inches from Fox, and the passionate kisses which follow incidents of violence and rage. The lyrics are also creating a stir, with lines like "I laid hands on her, I'll never stoop so low again/I guess I don't know my own strength" coming under extreme scrutiny.

The video is certainly edgy, and the subject matter horrific, but the decision from both the artists to create something about destructive relationships seems like a brave move, and anything that brings this often hidden issue into a public forum can only be a good thing. As for glamorising violence – you'll have to judge for yourself by watching the video.

The Libertines reunite for Reading and Leeds

Posted by Lee Taylor
24 August 2010

The Libertines

Their back-story was pure tabloid-fodder, with burglaries, rehab, prison and more break-ups than Deirdre and Ken Barlow, but The Libertines are finally letting by-gones be by-gones and reuniting for this year's Leeds and Reading Festivals. Whether it's the allure of showcasing their back catalogue again, or the reported £1million pay-cheque, there are bound to be fireworks when they take to the stage. Not to mention pandemonium beforehand.

The band's announcement of a one-off warm-up show at London' HMV Forum in Kentish Town set off a virtual scramble for tickets. Their release via a strict ballot system, to prevent touting, hasn't prevented some of the ticket codes being offered on eBay, with bids of up to £20,000 attracting almost as many column inches as the band's antics. But what was so special about this often shambolic band, to inspire such dedication?

Simply put, they were a breath of off-the-cuff, rock 'n' roll fresh air in a stale British music scene, dominated by cosy guitar bands peddling Britpop-lite at the beginning of the Millennium. Owing as much of a debt to Chas 'N' Dave as The Strokes, Pete Doherty and Carl Barat's quintessentially English lyrics, ramshackle arrangements and openness created a social community around the band, fuelled by impromptu intimate gigs announced on fan forums, some of which took place at the duo's own flat. Whether a big-money reunion in a field of thousands is the best way to showcase their punk-skiffle sound remains to be seen, but it's bound to be another fascinating chapter in The Libertines' saga.

Soundnet's jukebox must-hears: Can't Stand Me Now, The Good Old Days, Time For Heroes.

Amy Winehouse to release new "jukebox album"

Posted by Lee Taylor
02 August 2010

Amy Winehouse planning on releasing her "Jukebox Album"Amy Winehouse’s long-awaited follow up to 2006’s hugely successful Back To Black is finally on its way, with an expected release in January 2011. Amy’s going back to the influences which made her last album a huge success, telling journalists her forthcoming release will be "another jukebox album".

This has given fans and critics reason to hope for more hits like Rehab and Tears Dry On Their Own, recalling the glory days of Motown and darker 60s Soul. Here’s our look at some of the influences we can expect to hear on Amy’s third album:

Etta James

One of the undoubted queens of soul, Etta had the voice and the diva attitude on show in Amy, not to mention her fair share of demons, including a substance abuse problem.

Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: At Last

The Specials

The Ska kings have recently reunited and Amy’s been known to cover their version of Toots and the Maytals’ Monkey Man in her live shows. Expect a bit of sun-kissed Ska on the new LP: a hangover from her months in St Lucia.

Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: Too Much, Too Young

Phil Spector

Another troubled music star, Spector produced some of the greatest pop songs of all time, masterminding the Ronettes and a whole host of other girl bands whose influence is evident on Back To Black.

Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: Be My Baby

Motown

The Motown sound defined young American pop in the 60s, and from the sample of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough on Back To Black, to Mark Ronson’s love of brass, Motown’s never too far from Amy’s mind.

Soundnet's jukebox must-hear: Heard It Through The Grapevine

Amy’s new album will be available on Soundnet’s digital jukeboxes in the New Year

Rare Stones track no longer in Exile

Posted by Lee Taylor
03 May 2010

Exile On Main Street by The Rolling Stones is one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most celebrated records, but even 38 years on from its release it’s surprising people – including the Stones themselves.

To celebrate Record Day the Stones brought out some new (or should that be old) material – a rare off-cut from the Exile sessions called Plundered My Soul which the band only rediscovered while preparing a remastered version of their seminal record due for release later this summer.

The only thing that wasn’t a shock was the quality of the song, recorded as it was when the Stones were at the height of their powers. It’s a bluesy number, with Keith in groovy form and Mick in fine voice.

There’s more good news on the way for Stones fans too – the upcoming remaster will have a further three new tracks from the sessions, and if they’re as good as Plundered My Soul we could find the hottest record in the country was recorded three decades ago.

Make sure you’re fully stocked with Stones and other classic rock ‘n’ roll with Soundnet’s MIM or Rockbox packages, and enjoy pre-releases, including the remaster, at the same time as radio stations and MTV.
 

Shakira to record official World Cup song

Posted by Lee Taylor
03 May 2010

ShakiraColombia might not have qualified for this year’s World Cup in South Africa, but they’ll still be represented at the showpiece tournament thanks to their most famous singing export – Shakira.

She’s been picked to provide the official song for the tournament, alongside South Africa’s Freshlyground, and with football in the blood in Colombia we’ve no doubt she’ll be up to the task.

The Hips Don’t Lie star has teamed up with the Afro-fusion band from Cape Town to record the track called Time For Africa, which is available for download from 26 April. She’ll perform it live with the band at the World Cup’s opening ceremony in Soweto on the 10th of June, in front of a global audience of billions. She’ll reprise it before the final on July 11 (hopefully in front of a stadium full of England fans).

Let’s hope Shakira doesn’t pull a Diana Ross at the US 1994 opening ceremony and miss a penalty from close-range – that moment’s still one of my favourite footy gaffs.

Get your venue in the mood for the World Cup with the track, and a whole host of other football themed songs in Soundnet’s bespoke football package.
 

Recorded music sales up for first time in six years

Posted by Toby Hoyte
28 April 2010

For the first time since 2003 the British music industry’s sales of recorded music have risen. It might only be a 1.4% increase, but it points at just how important digital sales are in the modern music industry – they’ve played a crucial role in this rise.

Online music purchases have risen by 51.7% with digital tracks and video sales more popular than ever. Now worth £154 million in sales, digital tracks and videos may not quite have replaced traditional physical formats, but they are helping to maintain the industry at a time of transition.

Digital sales now make up around a fifth of music sales, with singles the format performing the most impressively. Even with illegal downloads still taking a chunk out of the music business’ revenue, the single enjoyed its best year ever – not least because of the much publicised battle for Christmas number one.

Spotify might be changing the way people hear music, but legal downloads are making sure they can carry their favourite tracks and videos around with them, and help support the next generation of artists. Keep up to speed with all the singles and albums making headlines with Soundnet’s MIM package, or go Unlimited to enjoy the benefits of Internet connectivity to a limitless number of songs.

M.I.A’s Born Free is no nature documentary

27 April 2010

M.I.A recently made it clear she’s not a huge fan of Lady GaGa – not least because she thinks GaGa’s been taking a few notes from her act and style over the years. Her video for single Born Free might well be her answer to GaGa’s Telephone – it has controversy, swearing, nudity and is nearly nine minutes long. It’s also pretty amazing.

If GaGa’s video felt like a Tarantino spoof then M.I.A’s is more like an apocalyptic movie. It’s not colourful or cartoonish but it does have violence and bad language – not to mention a real widescreen cinematic feel to it, with director Romain Gavras behind the camera.

Feeling like Justice’s infamous Stress video (also a Gavras creation) which featured gangs of hoodies rampaging through Paris, this is a gritty slice of urban aggression, with M.I.A’s new song providing an eerie, groovy and angry soundtrack. The track’s classic M.I.A – genre-bending with a hypnotic beat and hints that her forthcoming album might be her best yet.

It might just be the Reservoir Dogs to GaGa’s Death Proof. Make sure you’ve got Born Free on your jukebox - with Soundnet’s pre-release material you’ll have it at the same time as radios and MTV.

Glastonbury lineup confirmed

22 April 2010

Glastonbury’s 40th anniversary is bound to go with a bang – the lineup for the Pilton festival’s been announced and it’s chock-full of rock’s A-list, from headliners U2 and Stevie Wonder to Ray Davies, Willie Nelson and Muse.

The UK’s biggest summer festival has pulled out all the stops for its big birthday by bagging the world’s biggest band - Bono and co are set to grace the stage at Glastonbury for the first time since 1982.

For all their big-name bookings the Eavis family still aren’t shying away from controversy – booking controversial Hip Hop star Snoop Dogg, even after Jay-Z’s headline slot in 2008 attracted dissent over urban music’s place at the hippy love-in. Snoop Dogg’s not the only rapper either – hot Brit grime star Dizzee Rascal’s also set to dust off his wellies.

Glasto’s not just about the headliners, though, with its new West Holts stage replacing the old Jazz Stage and featuring, among others, Jerry Dammers and his Spatial AKA Orchestra. Upcoming indie starlets will be down on the farm in numbers too, with Mumford and Sons, The xx and Vampire Weekend confirmed.
Start your festival season early with the latest hits and classics from the headliners’ back catalogues, available on Soundnet’s MIM, MIM AV and Rockbox packages.

LCD Soundsystem’s third album to be their last

Posted by Lee Taylor
20 April 2010

The brains behind LCD Soundsystem, and DFA Records, James Murphy might seem like one of the coolest men in music but according to himself he’s well out of fashion, and so is the album format as a whole.

Murphy reckons that the forthcoming, keenly awaited, new album from LCD Soundsystem is definitely going to be their last as the process of making an album is ‘anachronistic’. ‘This Is Happening’ is likely to be found at the top of most critics’ end of 2010 lists, especially if the first single ‘Drunk Girls’ is anything to go by, so maybe Murphy’ll have a change of heart.

I don’t agree with Murphy – people might be buying music differently now but there’s still room for the album. Singles are more important than ever, thanks to downloads and the shuffle function, but there’s still life in the long player – just look at how many units Kings of Leon’s last one shifted, for one thing.

Singles are all about the perfect three minutes, but a band’s reputation stands or falls on its ability to entertain over 10 or 12 songs, and I don’t see that changing for a good while.

Make sure you’re fully stocked with the new LCD Soundsystem record and other forward-thinking rock singles and albums with Soundnet. 
 

Stairway leaves fans in seventh Heaven

Posted by Toby Hoyte
19 April 2010

If ever there was any doubt about how much we love Led Zeppelin, their anthem Stairway To Heaven has been voted Britain’s favourite rock song of all time in a poll taken by the radio station Absolute Classic Rock.

The epic rock classic pipped The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody to top the poll, and proving the public still has a whole lotta love for the Zep. The hard-rocking, guitar-soloing giants might be reluctant to put on a full comeback tour, but their songs are still soundtracking millions of rock fans’ lives.

While it may come as something of a surprise to see Led Zeppelin and not The Beatles topping the list, it proves there’s still a huge appetite for great rock songs, even when the bands who played them are now a little grey around the temples.

There’s nothing quite like a great rock song to get a crowd going at a live show, and the same is true in any venue – make sure you’re fully stocked with the greatest hits of the greatest British bands, and your customers can see if they agree with  this poll. 
 

Dust stops play at Coachella

Posted by Lee Taylor
16 April 2010

It isn’t just tourists, or our own James Luck, who were grounded by the volcanic ash clouds last week. The glitzy US festival Coachella had a good few notable absentees thanks to the weather, with a host of British musicians unable to travel for their scheduled shows.

The fact Gary Numan couldn’t make the event is maybe the most ironic of all – he’s got a pilot’s license! Even under his own steam, however, the Cars star was no match for the dust – and neither were fellow 80s icons Bernard Sumner or Johnny Marr.

Former New Order frontman Sumner has a new band, Bad Lieutenant, but they had to cancel their big US show. Marr meanwhile, currently lending his jangly chords to Wakefield’s Cribs, was stuck in Blighty. It’s almost as if the skies have no respect for our indie heroes – don’t they realise he was in The Smiths...?

If you want to create a festival feeling without the need for mud or long queues for the toilet it’s simple – just load up your digital jukebox with Soundnet’s MIM or Rockbox package and experience all the hits with the added bonus of having a comfy seat and no risk of rain.

Supergrass split

Posted by Lee Taylor
14 April 2010

Once they were the perma-grinning Britpoppers putting out 90s classics like Alright and Sun Hits The Sky, but after 17 years Supergrass have decided it’s time to go their separate ways.

It might be the oldest one in the rock ‘n’ roll book of break-ups, but once again it’s musical differences to blame for the band’s decision to part ways. Having recently developed a love of garage-rock with their spin-off Hot Rats project it looks like the some of the Oxfordshire boys are looking to keep up the experimenting.

Fans of the band needn’t despair – it’s not like they won’t get to say goodbye. Supergrass were quick to announce a four-date farewell tour, taking in Manchester, Glasgow, London and Paris, to say thanks for the memories and give their impressive back catalogue a final airing.

With Gaz Coombes and Danny Goffey having already released their side-project, under the gaze of Radiohead cohort Nigel Godrich, it looks like there’ll be more to come to fill the gap left by the band’s demise.

Make sure you’re stocked with the band’s biggest hits to give them a proper send-off – they’re all available from Soundnet.
 

Digital Economy Bill 2010

Posted by Toby Hoyte
13 April 2010

The passing of The Digital Economy Bill 2010 is a strike back against online music piracy, but what’s it really going to mean for the industry as a whole?

The main area of interest for music fans, and musicians, was the section on illegal downloading, because there’s no two ways about it – it’s having a huge impact on record labels and artists, as well as all those trying to get a record deal from an industry in flux.

Music isn’t free to make, and with the rise of online piracy acts increasingly have to live off revenue made from touring to survive. The bill may have been modified but it does send out a clear signal: copyright infringement is theft, and it has to stop.

While the arguments over making music free to download will continue to rumble on, amid claims that those who download illegally go on to spend more money on music than people who don’t, it is an important move to halt a massive drain on the music industry’s resources.

If you love a musician’s work you’ve got to support it, or face the reality that they might not get to release another record. 
 

The Drums relent and include Let’s Go Surfing on forthcoming album

Posted by Lee Taylor
08 April 2010

The Drums, one of the most hotly tipped new guitar bands around, have had a change of heart and announced that their song Let’s Go Surfing will be on their album when it’s released this summer after all.

Sounding like Joy Division with surf guitars the song helped create much of the buzz around the Brooklyn band, who count Morrissey among their growing list of fans, when it hit playlists last year.

Having initially felt the song wouldn’t fit on their self-titled debut album, due out in the UK in July, the band have given in to pressure from their disappointed fans and reinstated it, comparing its absence to seeing a band live and them refusing to play the song that got you into them to start with.

It just goes to show how important a debut album still is, setting a band’s stall out and creating the mythology – so even if every Drums fan already has the single they still want to see the band’s signature tune make it to the LP.

For hot new singles and pre-releases make sure you’re up to speed with Soundnet, and have the tracks everyone’s talking about available before they’re even in the shops.
 

Lady GaGa video success

02 April 2010

Lady GaGa’s Telephone video is one of the most talked about since Thriller. Co-starring Beyonce it’s been watched nearly 25 million times on YouTube so far, but it’s not just the numbers which have got people talking about GaGa.

Starting in a prison full of scantily-clad dancers the video’s filled with flesh, swearing and a whole lot of in-your-face product placement (post-modern irony, or just plain brazen?) The song’s not bad either...

Breaking out of prison GaGa and Beyonce are like Thelma and Louise, if Tarantino was directing. Bumping off an unlucky fella the pair go on the run, but not before getting dolled up – even on the lam GaGa doesn’t do dressing down.

It’s not actually Tarantino behind the lens, but director Jonas Akerlund’s clearly been studying his movies. At nine and a half minutes there’s a cinematic feel, but it’s more B-movie than rom-com, with clunky dialogue, specs made from cigarettes and even the famous car from Kill Bill.

Pushing the boundaries of the pop promo, creating a storm of controversy and flogging a few mobiles along the way it’ll be hard to top this video, but knowing GaGa she’s bound to give it a go.
If you’ve not seen the video for Telephone yet it’s available in our MIM AV package. 
 

Susan Boyle to get £4million payout from Simon Cowell

Posted by Lee Taylor
22 March 2010

It seems like only yesterday Susan Boyle surprised the judges on Britain’s Got Talent with her unexpected rendition of I Dreamed A Dream, but now after all the column inches, YouTube hits and controversy she’s finally got her first big payday – and she’d be forgiven for thinking she really is dreaming!

Simon Cowell’s not known for splashing the cash around too often but SuBo’s 49th birthday was one to remember – she got a cheque from him for the £4million owed to her. Made up of royalties from her debut album, which has sold over 8 million copies to date, and her lucrative performances overseas, the bumper cheque is testament to her unlikely superstar status.

Boyle’s plans for the money seem fairly modest by comparison to some of her diva-ish counterparts – a bigger home in her native West Lothian is number one priority with rumours of her moving to the Smoke proving to be unfounded.

It’s great to see someone come from nowhere to enjoy such success, here and abroad, and it proves that talent will always shine through. With an apparent hook-up with Rage Against The Machine and Snoop Dogg to come this year SuBo’s star is still on the rise – let’s just hope she doesn’t spend it all at once!

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