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The TouchTunes app, working in conjunction with its jukeboxes, allows users to pay-for-play from the comfort of their barstools. The wood paneling, fluorescent beer signage, and Spartan restroom facilities of the imitators conjure the working-class homeyness of the American classic, while the prices, clientele, and subsequent atmosphere undermine that nostalgia wholeheartedly.

Sometimes a fast pass is the only way to ensure a song will be played before closing time. On either side of economic crisis, dive bars traffic in fantasy.

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Dive bars are romantic like pickup trucks are romantic, cherished as a symbol for a certain national way of life presumed to be fading.

The app replaces the predictable rhythms of a local bar environment with the possibility of something choppier, if or when someone decides to supersede the sonic lay of the land.

Meanwhile, many private businesses, while not exactly making themselves more accessible, foster choice in a way that at least suggests an individualized experience—letting a public made of walking personal brands assert their tastes in privately owned places. Many customers can have the app open at once, purchasing naruci majicu online dating and adding to the queue when it suits them.

Users can avoid jostling the vibe by interrupting a series of soft-rock anthems with something from the party-rock family or vice versa.

TouchTunes erodes the premise of quaint regionalism as bars of all kinds transform into Top 40 danceries. The app does consolidate the time otherwise spent flipping through the catalog, or waiting for someone else to finish their turn.

You provide liquor and ambiance, I offer legal tender and agree to not make a mess. Fellow bar-goers can turn to adversaries, each one trying to get their songs played first.

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The songs played on jukeboxes, be they radio hits or dad-music antiques, are selected by real people. Just as auto-fill in web browsers intuits our favorite websites and Netflix adjusts to our tastes, TouchTunes most simply makes the personal more immediate.

The supposed relic of Americana purity still exists in solidly ethnic neighborhoods and across the massive rural swaths of this country. It also helps avoid a close-quartered set of repeats, in the case of users who might otherwise request the same song. They who fill the space control the vibe.

Through the app, these locations delegate musical, and therefore atmospheric, control to patrons and profit in the process. But now, it might also hang outside the type of bar where one would only order Old Style ironically, but more likely not at all.

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An app, however, unlike a traditional jukebox, introduces a tension between the cooperative end result and an interface primed to make things personal. With the older jukebox model, selection was necessarily limited but in tune with the character of a place.

Other in-app exclusives include bonus credits rewarded to frequent users and foresight into upcoming songs in the rotation. Song prices in credits are set by the venue and credits purchased are limited to that venue.

Not all vibes are good vibes.


From there, patrons interact with the playlist much the same way they would with a physical jukebox, purchasing credits and using them to add songs to the queue.

The distinct blue and yellow of an Old Style sign, for example, was once a beacon for a certain kind of chill, affordable, neighborhood establishment, and sometimes still is. The very features that make the app feel liberatory transform it into an un-fun experience for the bar at large as selfishness takes over the deeper into the night you go.

It seems many are willing to pay it. TouchTunes began simply as a more convenient version of a pay-for-play jukebox. But even with TouchTunes installed, some bars have found ways to protect their vibes—or seen another way, filter out certain clientele—with the targeted exclusion of certain genres.

The age of social media and customized entertainment primes users to expect their tech to adjust to their habits and preferences.


A new contract is at work here. Music is never a neutral topic and the staunch protection of a certain way of doing things resists cultural evolution and can amount to a subtle form of discrimination. By no means the only digital commercial jukebox other brands include AMI Entertainment and NSM MusicTouchTunes made itself a visible front-runner in a jukebox revival of sorts, in part because it allows users to choose music from their phones.

In turn, these icons have begun to suggest something different than what they previously stood for. The curatorial responsibility becomes an exercise in communal playlist management, not unlike the jukebox of old.

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The classic contract between bar and patron is dated, but practical. For dive imitators, these devices make it harder to maintain their neighborhood-bar veneer, while actual dives start to resemble their faux peers.

The check-in requirement forbids users from, say, fiddling with a jukebox several states away. More specifically, the TouchTunes digital jukebox. Another increasingly common feature of these establishments threatens to further unravel the dive-bar aesthetic—the digital jukebox.

Not that anyone would want to do such a thing