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The Rise of the E-Jukebox

New, iPad-like jukeboxes feature Facebook, karaoke, photo-taking
Virtuo at work at Blackstones, a bar in midtown Manhattan
Virtuo at work at Blackstones, a bar in midtown ManhattanPhotograph by Landon Nordeman for Bloomberg Businessweek

Jason Eisenhauer thinks Adele has a lovely voice. But he can only take so much of the ubiquitous British singer. The owner of two Irish sports bars in Columbus, Ohio, had to listen to Adele endlessly on the jukeboxes in his drinking establishments. Then, in January, Eisenhauer installed a new model called the TouchTunes Virtuo in both bars. He says his vending machine distributor told him he’d love it: “  ‘It’s like an iPad on steroids,’  ” Eisenhauer recalls him saying.

While customers were at first leery of the sleek, wall-mounted touchscreen device, they started warming to it as they discovered even a snippet of lyrics is enough to find a song. They can download an app on their phones and control the jukebox from their bar stools, or even queue up a song from afar. Eisenhauer was thrilled that his patrons could choose from 400,000 songs on broadband-connected Virtuo, compared with 20,000 on his old jukeboxes. “You can come in on a Friday night and not hear the same song twice,” he says.