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Imagine a bar or restaurant without any music. Since there weren’t many radio stations and streaming music was still many decades away, jukeboxes were very popular machines in many of those places. Jukeboxes were most popular in the three decades compromising the 1940s-1960s. During that time frame 75% of the records that were made in the United States went into one of the many jukeboxes around the country.
The above tells us they were popular during that time but are jukeboxes still popular? Jukeboxes have lost a lot of their popularity. Besides being used as decorations for a game room or in a “throwback” style restaurant, jukeboxes have become virtually obsolete. They are incredibly heavy, have many breakable parts, and the sound quality just isn’t as good as other ways to listen to records.
Not only are traditional jukeboxes heavy, breakable, and not the best choice for listening to music but they have become unnecessary even with many nostalgia buffs. If you want to listen to a record there are a wide variety of newly made machines that are small, cheap, and good quality.
On top of that, digital jukeboxes were released beginning in 1998 and make it possible for people to listen to their favorite music on a jukebox by using an app with virtually unlimited choices.
Gone are the days of having 140 songs to choose from (how many songs many jukeboxes had) because now you can choose from hundreds of thousands of different songs!
To see the most popular jukeboxes currently available just click here.
Rise in popularity
Jukeboxes were the most popular beginning in the mid-1940s. Home record players didn’t become extremely popular until the 60s-70s so jukeboxes were the place to go to listen to the latest hits while enjoying time with friends and family.
Of course jukeboxes were great for store owners as well since not only did they make money from the jukebox but they also enticed people to come in and stay longer too!
Factors that contributed to the success of the jukebox
- In the 1890s recordings had become famous through a coin in the slot phonographs.
- In the 1910s the phonograph became a medium for popular music and recording on a large scale.
- In the 1920s radio provided free music. This threw the phonograph industry into decline.
- In the 1930s as American companies relied on dance records in jukeboxes to satisfy a dwindling market, Europe supplied a slow trickle of classical recordings.
- In the 1940s the jukebox was responsible for a huge percentage of the total record sales as shop owners continued to have jukeboxes in their places of business.
- In the 1950s jukeboxes were at their peak with almost 750,000 jukeboxes which averaged out to one jukebox for every 200 US residents!
- In the 1950s the first transistor radio was released which would prove to be the turning point in the jukebox’s popularity.
Decline in Popularity
The late 1950s brought about some bad news for jukebox owners and lovers, the Sony TR-63 transistor radio! This radio was slightly larger than a shirt pocket and was incredibly popular.
The next two decades were when radios took over our country and jukeboxes began to go into a steep decline.
Why would someone pay to play music on a jukebox when they could bring their portable radio with them everywhere? These portable radios were truly the beginning of the end for jukeboxes.
In the 60s and 70s radios and eventually 8 track tapes began to take over the market with jukeboxes quickly losing market share. Business owners quickly realized they were decreasing in popularity and people began to see them less and less.
The introduction of cassettes was truly the end of the era. People now had portable radios and tiny tapes that they could use to listen to music and they no longer needed to have records at their homes let alone when they were out eating or drinking.
Making A Comeback?
If you are from the jukebox era then you might want to experience the jukebox feel all over again so some companies in recent years have decided to capitalize on that.
There have been some reproductions of the old jukeboxes with some being smaller desktop versions. All of them have modern touches such as being bluetooth enabled or having an AUX jack.
Some popular sellers of these reproductions are:
This jukebox is affordable and besides its cost it also performs quite well. This jukebox has a CD player, FM radio, Bluetooth and AUX jack input.
See this Victrola reviewed in the video below
~Pyle PJUB25BT Bluetooth jukebox
You might like this jukebox if you don’t need a CD player. It’s a similar product to the Victrola retro desktop. It’s a small jukebox that can sit nicely on a table. It’s versatile, and you have the option of Bluetooth, AUX input, USB input, and an AM radio. The main advantage is that it has an RCA output connector jack so if you prefer to have your music a little louder you can do that.
This is the first full size jukebox on our list. The combination of its quality and size makes it quite an expensive unit. This unit has bluetooth, color changing LED lights, a programmable CD player and AM-FM radio.
If you are interested in learning more about this model you can watch a review below.
This is another full size jukebox with some amazing style points. This jukebox can play your actual records with its 3 speed turntable. It also has an AM/FM radio and a built in CD player. This player also has built in bluetooth technology and comes in as the cheapest full sized option that we have found.
Jukeboxes were once popular but peaking in the 1950s and have gone downhill ever since. The jukebox has rebounded a little in recent years as people try and recapture their childhood or young adult feelings but they will never return to the popularity of yesteryear.
Jukeboxes quite simply are only still used because of the nostalgia that comes with purchasing or listening to one. There are far more convenient options (many which are right on our phones) that allow us to listen to music anytime, anywhere, for free or for just a couple bucks a month.
Jukeboxes are an amazing item to think about and remember years gone by but they simply aren’t very popular in the current day and age we live in.