A Singer's Guide

Since this blogger wrote this he has blocked me on Facebook. I can only speculate on why, but my educated guess is because he possibly uses a less than legal library and doesn't want the publicity. Sad, but true....:(

I am retaining the blog entry because it is well written and is a good contribution to the karaoke community.


Over the last 15 years, I've watched karaoke shows come and go and with it batch after batch of new singers. A good singer can carry a show, and a bad singer can break a show. That's what makes karaoke both beloved and despised: the performer is the variable that can't be predicted, bought, or cultivated for consistency. Karaoke is a peculiar, masturbatory art form and the people that enjoy it are a class of their own. If you're one of them there's several things you may not be aware of, especially if you're a newbie. So this guide is for you.

1.) SHOWS COST MONEY. This is first because it's the most important. If you don't come, and don't spend money, it will go away. That favorite show once a week at your favorite bar with your friends will disappear within a month or maybe two if you're always too busy or too tired to go out, or always order a water when you do come. Support your hosts, and support your venues even on the other days of the week by stopping in for a drink or dinner. The owners pay attention to numbers, especially that register tape and bodies through the door. Every person and every dollar counts!

2.) Karaoke is supposed to be fun. If you're on the stage and you're the only person enjoying your performance: you're destroying the show, killing the vibe, making people leave, and costing the venue money. Nobody wants to hear your obscure Adele song with the lyrics you've been texting to your ex. Nobody! Unless there's a formal contest announced, Karaoke is not a competition. Professional singers are welcome, but park your attitude at the door. Even a pro can have fun stepping out of the box to sing something they don't normally get to do - and it can be great fun! And if you do enter a contest, remember that it's supposed to be fun and designed to get you to come back. Multi-hundred dollar prizes are budgeted over several shows, and when you don't come back because you're butthurt after losing, it defeats the purpose and makes you a sore loser. The winner is usually not the best singer or the best looking or the bar favorite. It's usually a combination of a fun song, luck, and being able to connect with the crowd! A smile goes a long way on stage

3.) Learn how to use the mic. If you don't know how, ask your host. When the system is feeding back or sounds atrocious, it's not the system: it's YOU. Your host goes to extremes to make you sound good but when you're singing at a whisper without the mic pointed anywhere near your mouth and the DJ is trying to compensate by increasing the gain...eventually there will be squealing feedback The end of the mic should be an inch from your mouth and pointed right at the back of your throat - parrallel to the floor. "Game show host position" does NOT WORK. FYI on game shows, that handheld mic is a prop. The real mic is a special high gain boom mic off camera. Cupping the mic never looks cool, it just indicates you don't know what you're doing and how to sound good - it creates terrible harmonics and feedback, and causes snickers. And for gods sake, NEVER point the mic at a speaker!

3.) Communicate. Your hosts spends time and money to see to your every need, but everyone's needs are different. If there's a new song you'd like to try that's not in the book, send your host an email. They will buy it. If you are looking for a certain sound, tell your host. Some people like reverb, some don't. Tell your host if you know you're a loud or soft singer. If you're always stretching at the high part of a song, ask the host to drop the key by a step. If you got deleted from the queue because the host thought you left, let them know you're still here and the last time you sung. When you come in, sign up for 2-3 songs right away.That keeps you in rotation and keeps the karaoke rolling. Let the host know if you'd like to sing right away or prefer to relax and get a drink before singing the first round. If you have a designated driver, tell the bartender so they can comp their soft drinks. Let your DJ know if you're sick so they can sanitize or isolate your mic. Better yet, stay home so you don't make everyone else sick. And if you leave, please let the host know as a courtesy to everyone else. There's nothing lamer than holding up the show trying to find out where a singer is when they're already gone.

4.) It's not just about you. (what?) Keep in mind you're not the only one who wants to sing. Don't hijack the mic on every other song with your girllfriends. Don't sign up for 12 minute songs on a busy night. It's rude. Never demand that you sing "right now" no matter when your crew wants to leave. Your host has absolutely zero incentive to assist you expediting leaving the venue and making it more empty.... Badgering the host pushes you farther down the list. Also keep in mind that your host is producing a show, he's not just a singer's assistant or a jukebox. If they play fun DJ music in between singers, it's to please the other 6/10ths of the patrons that are hating the karaoke or the host is trying to bring back the vibe from a terrible or depressing performance! Also, we are aware that most of our performers are attention hogs and love to sing in front of a full audience. When you poke your head in the door and don't sing, it helps nobody. If you want a full audience, come early, sing often, make it fun, and the other singers will join you and stay. You performers make or break the show! You can be like fly paper or insect repellant!

5.) Get better at performing. I have yet to see a performer who doesn't improve, and there are several things you can do to go from horrible to contest winner. Practice is the most important. Sing in the car. Sing in the shower. Sing in front of a mirror. Record yourself. Cup your hand in front of your mouth and listen to be sure you're in key. Learn new or old fun songs. Doing that same Shania song that you've been torturing the crowd with for ten years needs to go. Browse karaokeversion.com for new ideas. Try one new song every show. Enter a contest. Join a choir. Ask the host or a friend for a critique. Go to new shows with other hosts and singers. Pay attention to the "great" performances for their song choice, technique, stage presence and interaction with the audience. A fun song trumps a difficult technical song any day of the week!

6.) Respect the show and the other singers. Every regular has two or three songs that are their favorite. Learn what they are, and don't try to outshine them. It just makes you look like an ass. If it's rock night, sing rock songs. If it's country night, sing country. Don't assume because other people are singing one genre that the singers are expecting to sing that - maybe the crowd needs a break from 17 country songs in a row with your Bee Gees! If there's dancing, cut loose and get on the floor. Applaud for the other singers - not for the performance but just for getting up on stage. Remember to accept it and appreciate it for what it is, and that the people getting up on stage usually wouldn't have an opportunity otherwise. Entertaining is an enormous high unlike any other, and yes, even the bad singers can be entertaining. Bring your friends to the show. They may not enjoy karaoke, but invite them up to sing backups with you, or find a DJ or dance song to request and include them in the fun. Remember the DJ is working and don't hang up at the booth yackety yacking all night or changing your song 15x: it diverts the DJ's attention away from the current singer' mix and the flow. Mind the gear: don't scream into the mic. Don't drop the mic. Don't spill on or break things. Respect your hosts expensive gear and leave your drink at the table or put it on the floor. Tip the bartenders. Tip your DJ. Spend money. Show up.

7.) KNOW WHEN ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. We're here to help you have a great time and forget what a jerk your boss is and that your kids are disappointed in you (lol). The bar makes money with drink sales but we don't want you dead after the show. Everyone thinks their singing skills go up the more they drink, but nothing could be further from the truth. Drink responsibly, have a designated driver, and forget about that epic song you insist you're awesome at right at bar closing time. You and every other person at the bar wants to sing at closing time! If you really want to sing, come right at the opening of the show. There's usually nobody there yet to hear your brand new test song, and you'll sound great and induce others to sing.

It's been a while...
Fun karaoke promotion from Heineken!