How to Choose the Right Jukebox for Bars & Restaurants

How to Choose the Right Jukebox for Bars & Restaurants

The iconic jukebox is a staple of bars, pubs, diners and other restaurants. Picking the right type of jukebox for your concept can be challenging.

  • What type of music will it play?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How much control will you have?

The jukebox you choose says something about your business and your brand. So consider it carefully. This guide to choosing the right jukebox for bars and restaurants will help you sort through the different types of jukeboxes on the market and decide what’s right for you.

Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure

Why You Might Want A Jukebox

Before choosing a jukebox a good place to start is to identify your goals. Why do you want a jukebox for your bar or restaurant? When you understand your motivations it will help you find the best solution.

Some of the obvious reasons you might want a jukebox are:

  • Your guests expect it — This is an important consideration. Some hospitality concepts just seem incomplete without a jukebox. This expectation might also influence the type of jukebox you get.
  • As a substitute for live music (band or DJ) — This is the original reason jukeboxes were invented. You might feature a live DJ, a house band or live karaoke on some nights, but what about when it’s slow? A jukebox can be a substitute for live music. If this is your goal, make sure the sound system is sufficient!
  • To increase customer engagement — The music played in your establishment can liven up the mood, get people dancing and excited about playing their favorite music. If this is your goal you might be looking for a jukebox solution that has lots of music options.
  • To make some money — Does that jukebox take quarters, dollars or credit cards? Your jukebox could be a source of additional income for the business. Or it could take in just enough to cover maintenance and service fees. Your money-making goals will also influence the jukebox solution you choose.

Types Of Jukeboxes

Jukeboxes as a product of modern recording technology have evolved with the music industry at every turn. This doesn’t mean your bar or restaurant’s jukebox choice is restricted to the newest players. There is a thriving aftermarket for used equipment as well.

Here are some of the pros and cons of each type of jukebox:

  • Vintage Jukeboxes — For this article “vintage” is defined as a record player juke

    • Pros:

      • They look cool and watching the records play can be fun
      • Perfect match for a retro themed restaurant
      • You have control over the music selection available
      • If you buy it outright it might cost less than a service
    • Cons:

      • Decreased audio quality (old records)
      • Finding replacement parts can be hard
      • Needs periodic service and maintenance
      • Expensive to purchase outright
      • Limited music selection available
  • Modern Jukeboxes — Older modern jukes used CDs or a limited selection of MP3s

    • Pros:

      • A wider selection of music but still controlled by management
      • Less expensive than true vintage jukes
      • Can create a sense of nostalgia for guests
      • You keep the profits if owned outright
    • Cons:

      • Limited music selection that may seem outdated
      • Parts and maintenance costs
      • Tech from the 90’s might not be “cool”
      • You can’t stop guests from playing the same Paula Abdul song over and over
  • Streaming Jukeboxes — These are the latest systems using a SaaS model

    • Pros:

      • Unlimited number of songs and styles
      • Annoying songs can be skipped by management
      • Flashy and modern-cool with smartphone app control
      • No maintenance or replacement parts needed
    • Cons:

      • Music jumps from one genre to another without a theme
      • More expensive charges for guests to play music
      • The service takes a big cut from the profits made
      • Owned by the service provider and subject to their rules
      • Needs the internet to work
      • Miss a payment and it stops working
  • No Jukebox — Just hook up your phone’s aux jack and put on your playlist

    • Pros:

      • Basically free
      • Total control over the music selection
    • Cons:

      • No participation from guests
      • Doesn’t generate money
      • Someone has to DJ the music while working
      • Employees may play inappropriate music

Read More: Choosing a Restaurant Business Structure


The best type of jukebox you choose for your restaurant or bar depends on your reasons for getting one. Also consider how much you want to spend upfront and what the ongoing costs are. Ultimately, your jukebox is for your customers’ enjoyment. The best type of jukebox for your bar or restaurant is the one that your guests will get the most satisfaction from. If you know your customers well, choose a jukebox solution with their interests in mind.

This free guide to choosing the right jukebox for bars and restaurants is part of the free resource library from Rezku. You’ll find many more helpful guides for managers in the food and beverage industry in our library home.

Rezku is a leading restaurant management technology solution provider. From point of sale and table management to gift cards, online reservations and food delivery systems, Rezku provides easy to use and affordable tools to help restaurant owners like you do more.

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