Surround Sound

July 1999


Surround Sound

Technology enhances versatility in music delivery systems

Whether you're a small retailer or a good-sized chain, choosing to use music as part of your image is a decision fraught with headaches. Broadcasting tunes without buying the rights to them is a violation of copyright law, so you're subject to fines if you simply play your personal compact disc collection; the same goes for playing the local radio station over your speakers. Instead, many retailers enlist music delivery services, which obtain licenses for thousands of titles, then deliver a customized mix of songs by satellite or on CD.

Problems still arise, says Lon Troxel, CEO and president of Los Angeles-based DMX, a company specializing in delivery of residential and commercial music. Some retailers can't get permission from the mall or property owner to put a satellite dish or antenna on the building roof, and making changes in CD mixes for on-premise systems sometimes takes 90 days or more.

For retailers who want more control and flexibility, DMX recently unveiled Axis, a system in which stores use a receiver that plugs into a phone line to access the Internet. It can share a line with a fax machine because it's not on-line more than a few minutes each day, says Troxel. DMX works with retailers to develop a unique "music profile" based on the store's image, then programs 400 hours of music. The central system dials into individual store devices a few times a day, establishing a modem connection with the Axis receivers and downloading updates that refresh the mix of music so customers will hear new songs every time they come into the store.

DMX eventually will switch all its systems – currently found in Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, Chili's and Coach Leather establishments – to Internet-only technology. Though the new system debuted in women's footwear giant Nine West, Troxel says the system is accessible enough not to exclude small retailers. "The cost parameters are not prohibitive to taking it down to individual stores," he says.

– by Stacey King

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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