A music kiosk is a type of self-standing structure with an electronic interface that helps consumers look up, listen to, or buy music. Kiosks with digital screens and interfaces are part of a modern world of commerce, and are frequently set up in public areas such as airports, shopping malls, and other high-traffic spaces. Music kiosks are often installed in music stores, or in larger department stores offering a music and electronics section where customers may want to access album or artist data.
Traditionally, music kiosks have been used to help customers find albums or artists in a music store. As music recently became digital, or migrated to a digital format, music kiosk setups were a way for music store owners to help provide automated customer service. Music kiosks also replaced old-fashioned "listening booths" by becoming a way for customers to listen to samples of the music they were thinking of buying. With listening booths, customers could use traditional media like vinyl, cassette tapes, or compact discs, but with most of today's music kiosks, sound is available in a digital format, and if there is a traditional component, it is generally not accessible to the user. This helps the store control damage caused by customer self-operation of stereo components.
In many music stores across the country, music kiosks or stations have become the norm in recent years. Customers rely on them to browse music before buying. In the past, many models allowed for full song play. Today's most sophisticated models replace full song play with specific "clip play." This leads to shorter listening times for the average shopper, but it's also frustrating to shoppers who would like a better sample of songs they are interested in.
Today, manufacturers are experimenting with music kiosk designs that would allow users to buy music or musical products with the kiosk itself as the point of sale. These designs would involve adding ATM kiosk features, or some kind of credit card processing unit to an existing design. Some companies have already begun making music kiosks that can sell songs and ringtones to consumers.
The music kiosk is a good representation of how audio products have been transformed to a very portable digital experience. It also represents the promise of automated shopping for many different products and industries. All kinds of businesses can take cues from the design of a music kiosk to explore reaching consumers in new and interesting ways for the future of retail in general.