Past, Present and Future at Sound Leisure Technical Training Day


“We are going to give you an overview of the past, the present and the future,” said Sound Leisure Managing Director Chris Black at yesterday’s second Technical Training Day held in Leeds.

Almost 60 engineers, operators and retailer representatives gathered to see how Sound Leisure has yet again pushed into new territory with its latest digital jukebox development called VenueHub.


VenueHub was first shown back in January at the EAG, but development has been ongoing and the Technical Training Day allowed buyers and engineers to see just how different this new jukebox is to everything else currently on the market – and the direction Sound Leisure intends to take in the future.


It was also the first opportunity to see the new larger P32 version of the VenueHub, as well as some other new products, including the innovative Cig Safe behind bar secure cigarette vendor and the stunning Rocket 88 50s style retro nostalgia jukebox. Sound Leisure also announced an agreement with Games Warehouse which allows cross-promotion of each other’s products on site, with jukeboxes encouraging customers to visit the SWP and vice versa.


It was VenueHub that took centre stage, however. Mike Black, Sound Leisure director, explained how the software for VHub had been inspired by developments such as the iPod and iPhone. VHub is essentially a platform that can run various applications – of which the jukebox itself is one. In this way, future applications or V Apps can be added quickly and at low cost and the functionality of the jukebox can be either customized or developed in line with user requirements.


In a similar way to modern handheld devices that have become so prevalent in our lives, the VHub also features intuitive gesture controls, so users can sweep their fingers across the screen to scroll through lists. Other user-friendly features include helpful prompts – for example as a customer starts typing a name, say “Sheryl” the jukebox will immediately list Sheryl Crowe – and for those who misspell, it will try to find the right artist, such as: “did you mean Cheryl Cole?”


Then the jukebox will also make suggestions on other music that the customer might enjoy. Just as the Amazon website says, “Other readers who bought this book also bought…” the VHub uses a industry leading third party online interface to come up with other artists and tracks that might tickle the customers’ fancy.


With access to a massive 7 million tracks through an online connection, there is little chance that the customer might not find what they are looking for. In fact, Sound Leisure was keen to stress to operators that VHub is not really suitable for those sites that are simply looking for a jukebox to play chart hits. Instead, VHub is a connoisseur’s jukebox for top earning sites – it works well in locations where customers take an interest in music and have eclectic tastes.


Chris Black also took delegates through the contactless payment feature on VenueHub and told them that by 2012, twenty per cent of all retailers will accept it as a payment option, and 23m Barclays customers and 30m Oyster Card users will have access to them to pay for items of up to £15-£20.


In the coffee break between talks, the operators were comparing notes. “I already have several VenueHubs in my top sites,” said one. “It is earning far and away more than any jukebox I have ever seen. I have cascaded my other digital jukeboxes down through my estate,” he added.

VenueHub can only really be appreciated with an online collection. “Otherwise, it is a bit like using a top of the range Jaguar for a trip to the local shops,” explained Soundnet’s James Luck later in the day. Soundnet has various solutions for operators wanting to get sites online without signing up for contracts with expensive broadband suppliers. Prices start from just £15 a month on very flexible terms.


The other advantage of going online is that it gives operators access to OpWeb which is the online remote interface developed by Soundnet and Sound Leisure to help manage jukebox estates. OpWeb enables operators to see the status of the machine, to notify sites if there is a problem and of course to manage music uploads and analyse play data. For those with jukeboxes sited great distances apart – it truly could save a lot of time and money.


After a good lunch provided locally, the delegates went back to the offices for more sessions with Sound Leisure and Soundnet staff. Everyone was split into groups, so that the content of the seminars could be tailored to the right level of technical knowledge and everyone appeared to be enjoying the informal and yet business-like atmosphere of the day.


“We are thrilled with the response,” says Chris Black. “We had more people attend than we expected and yet we managed to cram them all in! Everyone seemed to enjoy the day and get a lot from it. The mix of people that attended was ideal,  from the feedback that we received all parties went away with a clearer understanding of what each others role was, from setting a machine up in the workshops to achieving the best from the VHub when it is on site and armed with this knowledge will surely reap the benefits”.


As promised, the combination of good old-fashioned hospitality, products designed for today’s market and upcoming developments and partnerships provided everyone with a clear view of the past, present and future and how to make the most of it.

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