Energized by the addition of ESPN founder Stu Evey as its top executive, a young Spokane company is preparing to launch its digital jukebox as an alternative to the conventional music machines.
The company, Songbird Digital Jukebox Inc., so far has built 20 of its jukebox units, which download songs instantly from an Internet server rather than playing records or CDs inside a machine. This week, its unveiling the technology at a national amusement-machine trade show in Las Vegas, says Evey, who is best known for his role in founding ESPN, the Bristol, Conn.-based national television sports network. Evey says that about six months ago, he made a nominal investment into Songbird, which was started in 2000 by Karl Bingle and Dan Mackey, and is serving as its chairman and CEO.
When I first saw these jukeboxes, I saw far greater potential than I did when I first saw ESPN, because this has a proven industry, Evey says. Jukeboxes, of course, are found in restaurants and bars across the country.
Songbird has had three of its machines operating on a test basis at Spokane-area venues in the past year. Its jukeboxes operate differently from conventional jukeboxes, which store music in each individual machine. Downloading songs via high-speed Internet lines from a main server allows Songbird to offer far greater selections, with thousands of songscurrently, 5,000available at each unit.
Songbird is looking for additional investors and hopes to raise $1.5 million, mainly to enhance its server, so it can sell jukeboxes at a more aggressive pace, Evey says.
If Songbird is able to move forward at full throttle, the company projects that it will have $40 million in annual sales in three years, Evey says. That forecast is based on the company garnering a 2 percent market share in the jukebox industry, he says.
Songbirds customers primarily will be machine vendors, which provide jukeboxes and other entertainment machines in bars, taverns, and the like. Revenue streams for the company include the sale of the jukebox unitsthey retail for $6,000and retrofit kits through which Songbirds technology can be added to conventional jukeboxes, plus a per-song charge to vendors and digital advertisements on the machines. The company also is looking at using the machines for a form of e-commerce, through which it could sell CDs and other goods through the jukebox display.
The three owners currently are the companys only employees, and all of them work out of their homes. The company contracts with Accra-Fab Inc., of Liberty Lake, to build the jukeboxes.
Evey says the company is considering leasing office space soon, but hasnt committed to a location yet.
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