After a 2019 packed full of success, it would be understandable for NSM Music to rest on their laurels at EAG 2020. However, with ‘Curve’, a new product that looks set to redefine the modern jukebox, an exciting new user interface and a re-designed back-end, rest is that last thing on the mind of Alex Kirby – he spoke to Coinslot.
Coinslot:What are the highlights on the NSM stand at January’s EAG?
Alex Kirby: We’re incredibly excited about our new jukebox, Curve, which we announced in Coinslot in early December. We think it’s going to make everyone rethink what a jukebox should be as two eye-popping screens deliver a uniquely immersive, exciting and accessible end-user experience.
We’ve got Co-Pilot, our new back-end system which puts jukebox management in the hands of a smartphone users and TS2, our next generation touchscreen platform – all NSM Thunder and Lightning jukeboxes can be upgraded to house TS2.
Add our BGM Tablet App, designed to deliver a perfect background music experience and we feel there’s a lot of reasons for visitors to come and see us at ExCel.
CS: How did trading fair during 2019 and what were your company’s stand-out moments?
AK: 2019 was a year of pleasant surprises. UK sunshine and uncertainty over Brexit saw the staycation spend soar and our Thunder and Lighting jukeboxes flourished as a result. Towards the end of the year, encouraging pre-orders of Curve meant we finished positively and look forward to EAG with real enthusiasm.
CS: What are the market trends that are catching your attention? What kind of feedback are you getting from players and operators?
AK: There’s been a very interesting market shift for NSM.
In terms of operator behaviour, we feel 2019 was a breakthrough year for the company. The market is recognising that NSM keep the promises we make and we’ve seen them align themselves more strongly to our brand. It’s not always easy to stick to a business or a payment model, particularly in times of uncertainty, but because we’ve never wavered, the market know they can trust NSM people and products.
In terms of behavioural trends on the high street, we’ve been saying for longer than anyone that cashless is fundamentally changing the leisure experience. For us, jukebox apps are the next potential development.’
CS: What will be your key areas of focus over the coming 12 months?
AK: From a practical product perspective, we’re obviously focusing on Curve and Co- Pilot. From a slightly more business perspective, we’re focusing on the way that people see NSM, our brand. We want to work hard to cement our position and remain the first name in the jukebox sector, a name that stands for innovation, reliability and commercial performance.
CS:What kinds of regulatory changes are you looking for to help drive your business forward?
AK: We’re not really looking for regulatory changes, we just want the regulations that are there to be properly enforced. Personal music platforms such at Spotify, Apple Music, Sound Cloud and the like shouldn’t be used in a commercial setting. Those businesses paying for legal, commercial music platforms are being unfairly penalised – we’re not asking for any sort of advantage, just parity and fairness.
CS: What are the key issues the industry needs to address in the coming year?
AK:I think I’d like to answer this more generally: the industry needs to take control. We need to stop giving stuff away for free. We need to believe in the superb leisure experiences this industry provides and charge for them. This industry provides entertainment to millions of people every week, we shouldn’t be giving that away for free, we should all be rewarded properly for our hard work, imagination and experience.
CS: If you were asked for 3 things the government needs to sort out for you now, what would they be?
AK: I’m going for one with two different strands. The government needs to once and for all level the playing field surrounding alcohol. The British pub is one of the few places where British society comes together to talk. We live in age where everyone seems to be looking down into their own world on a mobile phone. Pubs are places where we can put our phone down and talk to each other about life. From a community perspective, a mental health perspective (particularly for men) and from a general wellbeing perspective, the modern pub is a very important place. The tax on alcohol in pubs is making it more and more difficult for places to survive, especially when competing against prices on supermarket alcohol – which is a far greater threat to society. It just makes no sense.
CS: With the UK’s exit from the EU now determined, how will this affect your business processes and plans going forward?
AK: It’s impossible to predict and I don’t want to read my comments in a year’s time and be embarrassed! It’s going to be interesting to see how the exchange rate will fluctuate, will more people stay in the country for their holidays if the pound remains weak against the euro/dollar? What will Brits need to do to travel? Until this sort of stuff settles down, like British society and business in general, NSM will have to remain flexible and ready for whatever comes our way.