I’ve been performing karaoke for quite some time now and I’ve played at many different venues. While I’m used to getting requests about my availability, I also realized that in many cases, people are asking me how they could successfully integrate karaoke into their businesses. When I first thought about it I thought it was strange. Why WOULDN’T you want to ask the guy who has been doing this for so long the best way to do it? Well, I thought I’d drop some of my tips here to make it easier for you to reference later.
- Have Bar, Will Travel
The level of difficulty getting people up on stage to sing is significantly great if there’s no “liquid courage” available. The only time this is excusable is if you’re pitching to a younger crowd (young as in below the legal drinking age). Food is also a good draw but not essential. If you’re a restaurant that specializes in more expensive fare you may want to keep a scaled down “bar food” menu just for the karaoke crowd.
Not to say that if you don’t have a bar then karaoke will flop. Karaoke just makes more money in a bar environment.
- Pick A Niche And Stick With It
Theoretically, any night can be a successful karaoke night but the best days for it is Friday or Saturday night. Most business owners are reluctant to devote any of those days to karaoke because those are the days that make them the most money. Karaoke CAN carry any one of those nights if you give it a chance.
Once you have a day, tailor for your audience. Is this supposed to be a family event? For adults? Just for the grown and sexy? The reason you need to specify this is all karaoke songs aren’t “family friendly”. A lot of popular songs these days feature suggestive, raunchy or foul language. Karaoke jockeys (KJ) try their best to make their own call on this based on the ambiance of the establishment but in most bars we’ll opt for the “uncensored” option. In the right setting, I’ve been known to even encourage singers to “fill in the bleeps”. Work out with your KJ just how far you’re willing to let the show go.
Finally, consistency. I’ve seen many situations where the owner will pick a night and then start shuffling the days around when that night doesn’t work. You can end up losing “regulars” this way. It’s a pain when you have fun doing something one night, come back the next week at the same day and time only to find out that the thing you had fun doing has been moved to another day. Pick a day and make it work. But if you absolutely must move the event, make sure you advertise the new time and day well.
- When you do decide to hire a KJ, be prepared to market the event. Your KJ will reach out to their regulars and post notices when they’re out and about but you need to take a stake in promoting it. It could be as simple as posting up a sign on your front door.
Get The Word Out (speaking of advertising)
- Play this scenario in your mind. Let’s say you’re waiting in line at McDonalds. Next thing you know someone comes in and the manager starts gushing about how glad he is to see this person and how he really enjoys the food there. The manager then procedes to move that person who just came in right to the front of the line. I don’t know about you but I’d have a problem with that.The most difficult part of the job is maintaining a fair rotation of singers. It’s difficult because everyone in the room has a pretty good idea of when their turn is coming up. Many managers though like to play favorites and that can easily annoy everyone else who’s been waiting patiently for their turn. Now, the manager IS paying for the entertainment and thus can exercise this right if they so choose but it’s easy for managers to abuse this power. At the very least, ask the KJ if they can bump a certain person to the top of the list.
Let The KJ Do His/Her Job
- Don’t Shortchange Your Event
The typical karaoke event lasts on average 3 hours. Anything less than that and people will decide it’s not worth their time. Work out with your KJ ahead of time what their event schedule should look like and negotiate the cost before hand. You’ll find that most KJs are very flexible.
On another note, NEVER combine karaoke with any other event. Only one event can hold the spotlight at any given time. One show at a time, people!
- Beware Of Contests
I HATE karaoke contests. I mean I REALLY hate them. Why? Because the contest most people implement aren’t karaoke contests. they’re SINGING contests. This negates the very principle of karaoke: providing a stage to people who couldn’t even sniff the big time. Those folks have Star Search and American Idol. For the rest of us, there’s karaoke.
Contests can easily bite you in the rear and alienate good customers. If you do want to have a contest, then let your KJ work out the details. They will most likely have a way of doing it so that feelings don’t end up hurt and people will come back next week regardless of who wins.
- If You Build It They…Might Come
Sometimes, even if you follow these steps, karaoke doesn’t work out. Your regular customers may decide they like their old plain Jane bar the way it was. You might be in an area where there aren’t many karaoke enthusiasts. Or your establishment might not have the right ambiance for karaoke.
In light of this, my final tip is when to bow out. Give your karaoke event a solid eight weeks to properly gauge the response of your customers. If adding karaoke was meant for you to drum up more sales then keep an eye on your receipts for that night and compare them to receipts for the same night on which you didn’t have karaoke. If adding karaoke was meant as a bonus for your regular customers, ask them directly how they feel about the event. But in either case, give it eight solid weeks before you decide if you’re better with or without karaoke.
- Have questions?
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