Singing Karaoke – Everything You Need to Know
What Is Karaoke, Exactly?
Karaoke is a form of musical entertainment where a person sings along with backing instrumental tracks of popular songs using a microphone. The words are commonly displayed on a video screen along with some sort of rhythmic guide to direct the singer. This often comes in the form of color-changing text or “bouncing ball” variation that hops on top of each word in rhythmic synchronization.
Historically, instrumental tracks were used in numerous performance settings going back to when multi-track recording was first introduced. An instrumental is still used when a full-fledged live orchestra is either too expensive or impractical for the moment. Where karaoke stands apart in its use of these backing tracks is its focus on a soloist in a recreational setting.
With origins in Japan dating back the 1970s, the karaoke machine has steadily evolved from an early piece of fixed hardware to today’s portable, feature-rich devices. All throughout the world, karaoke is a regular source of fun entertainment in music venues, restaurants, bars, theaters, community centers, and numerous other social meeting spots.
Let’s Get Started!
Karaoke was created first and foremost to be a fun, inclusive musical experience for people from all walks of life. That being said, it can be a bit nerve-wracking to get up and sing in front of friends, family, and total strangers. Even if you’re singing a song that you’re incredibly familiar with, anxiety and stage-fright are not uncommon. But don’t worry, there are easy steps to help you grow more comfortable singing in this way. In this article, I will outline the ways to help find the right karaoke experience for you, as well as highlight exciting karaoke products that you can use yourself!
Find the Right Karaoke Venue
If going out to perform karaoke is your goal, then you should research information on a number of different establishments. What day(s) of the week do they offer karaoke? What time? Is there a cover charge? What is the environment like?
When it comes to decorations, layout and entertainment, each venue has a character of its very own. It really comes down to what kind of music you like to sing. Modern Pop? Classic Rock? Country? If people are regularly singing songs in the style of Johnny Cash, Pasty Cline, or Hank Williams without any sort of variation, the newest modern Top-40 pop songs might not even be available to sing. Karaoke song libraries vary from place to place, with some DJs able to download new tracks and others limited to the physical selection at hand.
Each Karaoke Venue is Different
Venue that offer karaoke usually fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes:
On one side of the spectrum, you have the most comfortable and laid-back of karaoke establishments. A place where singing takes a back seat to everything else going on. This is usually a restaurant or bar where the patrons are there primarily for the food, drink, and conversation. No matter how a performance turns out, a smattering of polite applause is the normal reaction. There is a lot of encouragement and very little pressure.
Jumping over to the opposite side of things are the places that radiate pure karaoke intensity! These venues are the go-to spot for an area’s highly talented singers. Many of these individuals play in bands, have roles in musical theater productions, or perform in other professional capacities. This means an extensive sound system packed with audio and video equipment that can easily eclipse five-figures in cost. The performers here take things seriously and you’re likely to see some competition between individuals as they sing one after the other.
Obviously, it’s a sliding spectrum between the two types, but venues do tend to skew either more relaxed or more intense in terms of general feel.
Do What is Most Comfortable to You
If you’re worried about your performance, start at a more low-key place. You’ll be able to sing and not feel like everyone is taking things too seriously. It’s ideal for getting more experience with a microphone and dealing with the inevitable hardware failures and brain cramps that can happen when singing karaoke. It’s always the first time that is the most difficult. The more you sing, the more excited you’ll be to go and sing again. For some people, it’s a goal to sing at a venue where people obsess about the performance. For others, a more high-strung environment isn’t very enjoyable.
Do what you want to do! Remember, you should always be having fun first and foremost.
Karaoke With A Live Band
Some live music venues might also offer a karaoke variation where a group of experienced musicians will actually play the instrumental in the style of a cover band. That means that the performer stands in and takes on the role of a lead singer. This “live band karaoke” is a much different feeling, since you’re now interacting with a living, breathing group of musicians instead of a pre-made track. Often times there won’t be any words to fall back on, so you’d better have the song memorized! It’s a fun challenge, kind of like you’re playing a game on “expert mode” difficulty.
It’s easy and more affordable than ever to own your own Karaoke Player!
Looking for a fun way to practice your favorite karaoke tracks, entertain party guests, or incorporate some singing excitement into your next big event? There are a number of Karaoke Players from brands like VocoPro and Numark that will fit the bill! These devices can play tracks in a variety of formats. CD+G is a standard format, providing both audio and the on-screen lyric video. You can play CD+G discs in a standard CD player for audio only. MP3+G is the most common digital equivalent, again combining audio and lyric visuals.
Other types of formats that can be used in many karaoke players include DVD, VCD (stands for ‘Video CD’, a DVD alternative that requires less data space), DivX (a type of video codec), and CD-R/CD-RW (recordable/rewritable CD media). There are a variety of different models that accept different file formats. You can incorporate external audio and video setups, and include a wide-range of microphone and effect inputs.
Enjoy audio playback in Speakers and Amplifiers
Many powered PA Speaker systems, portable Line Arrays, and a number of Guitar Amplifiers include an auxiliary in (AUX) port. This is most commonly a 1/8” (3.5mm) port that fits a number of portable music devices, such as an iPod. There are numerous cables and adapters that can connect devices to speakers with 1/4″ or RCA AUX-ins. Many devices have phased out their headphone jacks and Bluetooth connectivity is becoming a staple in the audio world. This means that newer smartphones, tablets, or a Bluetooth-compatible device can sync up wirelessly to certain speaker setups. If you’re thinking of purchasing loudspeakers for your band or DJ rig, than these connections can also help you practice karaoke.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Singing in the car is another great way to belt out your favorite songs, it also helps to alleviate the monotony of a lengthy commute. Grab the right connective cable, create a modern mix tape or device playlist, and cue it up before you start driving. Be sure to utilize hands-free control or have someone in the passenger seat take charge of the musical situation. Don’t mess with your device while driving, keep your eyes on the road, and be safe.
The more you perform you favorite songs at karaoke, the more comfortable you’ll be performing in a public setting. There are many instances of people with a singing background based in karaoke who have gone on to perform elsewhere. That includes joining choirs, singing in a band, and even starting a music career of their own!
Above all else, have fun, enjoy yourself, and show your karaoke skills!
Click Here to learn some microphone tips for singers
Written by Kyle Novak