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The Jukebox At Your Local Bar Just Got More Dangerous

The new TouchTunes app blends personalization, good design, and better payment options to keep you pumping money into the jukebox.

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Rarely does a new music app make me feel nervous. But as the TouchTunes product team swipes through their app’s redesigned interface and boasts about its new features, I realize I’m screwed. Put this thing on my phone and get a couple cocktails in me, and I’ll be blowing through my hard-earned disposable income in no time.

This is exactly what TouchTunes is hoping for. The company, whose Internet-connected jukeboxes sit in over 75,000 bars and restaurants worldwide, releases its newly overhauled mobile app today. With it, music-obsessed, bar-hopping millennial suckers like myself are going to open up our virtual wallets and start dropping dollar after dollar to fill our Friday nights with '80s R&B hits, '90s grunge classics, and whatever else suits our mood. And if the bar is packed, the quest for curatorial dominance gets even pricier: For an extra dollar, the "Play It Next" button pushes your song to the top of the queue.

With its new app, TouchTunes is making this game easier to play than ever. The update sheds the app’s stale design in favor of brighter colors, bigger typography, and an interface that removes every last obstacle between you and the songs you need to hear right that very moment. The location-aware map that loads first will show you nearby TouchTunes venues and ensure you’re checking into the right jukebox. With a large, prominent search bar and grid of album art displaying popular songs, it caters to picky playlisters and casual top 40 fans all within a few inches of screen real estate.

But here’s where things get dangerous: personalization and payments. TouchTunes now lets you sync your Spotify account or scan the music on your phone in order to teach the app what you like. If, like me, you’re an active Spotify user, syncing with TouchTunes gives the digital jukebox a thorough understanding of the artists, songs, and playlists you love, making it easier for the app to point you in the right direction. Suddenly, the task of trying to run down a list of your favorite jams in your head (or scrolling through hundreds of artists on a jukebox touchscreen) is eliminated. Just open the app, scroll through your favorites and hit play.

Of course, jukeboxes aren’t free. Ironically, in an age when people are less willing to pay to own music, many of us are still perfectly happy to drop a few dollars to hear a song in just the right social context. The previous version of the TouchTunes app allowed people to link up their credit card, making it easy to add new song credits without digging around for cash. That option still exists, but it’s joined by a new one: PayPal. Adding a PayPal button to an app isn’t a novel, groundbreaking concept. But in this case, it removes one more bit of friction: pulling out your credit card in a dimly lit bar and typing the numbers into your phone when you should be chatting with your friends. An integration with Apple Pay is reportedly in the works, too.

TouchTunes already boasts the distinction of being the biggest digital jukebox service in North America. However you feel about the influx of Internet-connected jukeboxes into neighborhood hangout spots, the trend isn’t likely to slow down, especially with user experience improvements like this one. But be careful. And remember: Friends don’t let friends go on a public Bieber binge.

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