Preview: Besides being a unique way to invite your guests to have a good time, purchasing a jukebox can transform your business or space for other reasons
The benefits of purchasing a jukebox for your business (or any space) extend far beyond the aesthetic. We don’t talk about jukeboxes often, but they’re a nice piece of furniture, er, art… er, music to study.
We’ve written about the history of jukeboxes before, so let’s recap some of that info. As we dive a bit into the early beginnings of the jukebox and also address risk factors and more, we’re hoping this jukebox information will help you in your decision-making process.
The History of the Jukebox (aka Revised Phonograph)
“LIKE ALMOST EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE COUNTRY, THE GREAT DEPRESSION BROUGHT THE MUSIC INDUSTRY TO A SCREECHING HALT.”
So we know the jukebox had its heyday, but let’s not focus on that. The first jukebox in history looked nothing like the jukeboxes we’re familiar with today. The invention of the jukebox began when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. The machine was modified with a coin slot and installed inside an oak cabinet.
A 25-pound sulfuric acid battery provided electricity to run the phonograph. It could only play one wax cylinder at a time, which had to be changed by hand.
Since amplification hadn’t been developed yet, users had to listen to the music through one of four listening tubes. The tubes looked a bit like stethoscopes that went into people’s ears. Handkerchiefs hung on the side of the machine, so people could wipe off the tubes after each use.
But it wouldn’t be for another 29 years before the automation process was added that allowed you to put a coin in and select a song and then another 20 years before an amplifier was added so that you could hear the music throughout a room.
The Jukebox was starting to gain some popularity; especially during the prohibition era when these machines made their way into speakeasies and became a staple in bars from that time forward.
Related article(s): Who Invented the Jukebox?
Why You Should Consider Going Vintage with a Jukebox
1. Cultural and historical significance.
Admittedly this is one of the most obvious examples, but that’s exactly the reason we should start with it! Though the designs of a vintage jukebox can be mimicked down to the very last detail, no imitation can reproduce its authenticity and historical value.
A vintage jukebox is a snapshot of history, a physical embodiment of a bygone age, and that alone is enough to make it a must-have for enthusiasts and aficionados alike. But here’s the interesting thing – not only are they products of their time, but many even helped shape their contemporary cultures.
Take the aesthetics of an AMI Continental, for example, which shares characteristics with a lot of automobiles of the age; the contours, the metallic color and the chrome finish that’s reminiscent of a vintage Cadillac. Very few brand-new jukebox designs can replicate that level of cultural value.
2. Authentic vintage sound — not over produced
Vintage jukeboxes are blessed with a distinctive sound that’s not crisp like the type produced by modern hi-fi equipment. It has more bass, with a soft, warm quality that we’ve all grown to appreciate.
In fact, the vinyl sound is actually so distinctive that some modern jukeboxes being produced today are being specifically engineered to reproduce this vinyl to valve sound.
Related article(s): 3 Great Reasons to Buy a Vintage Jukebox
Things to Consider if You're Contemplating a Jukebox
Are jukeboxes a good investment?
If you are looking to purchase a jukebox and just have it sit in your house and hope it appreciates then it probably isn’t a good investment. If instead you are planning on putting it in a location where you could make money with each play then it could be a fine investment.
What is your goal for the investment?
If you are wanting to buy a jukebox and place it in a local bar or retro style restaurant then that is probably a better investment than to let it sit in your basement for years. However, having a machine at a business requires you to check it regularly, to remove money from it, to share revenue with the business owner, and many other things.
Do you understand the potential risks?
For example what happens if someone breaks the machine the first weekend you have it at a business? You are now having to spend additional money before you have ever made a dime. You also have to consider what might happen if the nostalgia fad passes. If people are too busy streaming music on their phones to care about your jukebox in the corner your investment could become worthless quickly.
Related article(s): Are Jukeboxes A Good Investment?
A Guide to Buying a Jukebox
If you’ve decided that you’re going to do it — you’re going to get that jukebox — here are some helpful tips.
Choose a brand based on research/reviews and the aesthetic that you’re going for.
Know what condition do you want your jukebox to be in when you purchase it.
Know your budget. Some brands are more expensive than others — as in thousands of dollars more expensive.
Warranty is a very crucial factor to consider when buying a jukebox. Buying from a company that gives a warranty is an assurance that their jukeboxes can be trusted. You are also assured of compensation in case your jukebox fails within a certain period.
Different jukeboxes have different sound outputs. You can decide on which jukebox depending on the sound output that interests you.
We mentioned it previously, but buy a jukebox that is attractive to you and for you/your business.
Remember that buying a modern jukebox can be a costly undertaking; a good machine could set you off tens of thousands of dollars. With so many choices each promising this and that feature, it can be daunting to settle on one. Of course, you do not have to be Justus Seeburg to know a good jukebox; you only need to do a little homework (just as you’ve done by reading this blog).