Every Wednesday and Saturday evening Tukee’s is transformed into a Karaoke party. However, last week, in addition to singing there was an interesting customer debate about the origin of Karaoke, which prompted us to find the true history of the Karaoke craze. Like any good student, we went to Wikipedia. I hope this clears up the debate. Happy Singing! Cheers.
DEFINITION: Karaoke is a form of interactive entertainment or video game in which an amateur singer sings along with recorded music (a music video) using a microphone and public address system. The music is typically a well-known popular song minus the lead vocal. Lyrics are usually displayed on a video screen, along with a moving symbol, changing color, or music video images, to guide the singer. In some countries, namely China and Cambodia, a karaoke box is called a KTV. It is also a term used by recording engineers translated as “empty track” meaning there is no vocal track. The global karaoke market has been estimated to be worth nearly $1 billion.
The concept of creating studio recordings that lack the lead vocal has around for nearly as long as recording itself. Many artists, amateur and professional, perform in situations where a full band/orchestra is either logistically or financially impractical, so they use a “karaoke” recording; they are, however, the original artists. (This is not to be confused with “lip synching,” in which a performer mimes to a previously produced studio recording with the lead vocal intact.)
1960s: Development of audio-visual-recording devices
From 1961–1966, the American TV network NBC carried a karaoke-like series, Sing Along with Mitch, featuring host Mitch Miller and a chorus, which superimposed the lyrics to their songs near the bottom of the TV screen for home audience participation. The primary difference between Karaoke and sing-along songs is the absence of the lead vocalist.
Sing-alongs (present since the beginning of singing) fundamentally changed with the introduction of new technology. In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, stored audible materials began to dominate the music recording industry and revolutionized the portability and ease of use of band and instrumental music by musicians and entertainers as the demand for entertainers increased globally. This may have been attributable to the introduction of music cassette tapes, technology that arose from the need to customize music recordings and the desire for a “handy” format that would allow fast and convenient duplication of music and thereby meet the requirements of the entertainers’ lifestyles and the ‘footloose’ character of the entertainment industry.
1970s: Development of the karaoke machine
There are various disputes about who first invented the name karaoke. One claim is that the karaoke styled machine was invented by Japanese musician Daisuke Inoue in Kobe, Japan, in 1971. Although the audio company Clarion was the first commercial producer of the machine they may have also invented the machine, but there is no existence of the patent.
In Japan, it has long been common to provide musical entertainment at a dinner or a party. Japanese drummer Daisuke Inoue was asked frequently by guests in the Utagoe Kissa, where he performed, to provide recordings of his performances so that they could sing along. Realizing the potential for the market, Inoue made a tape recorder-like machine that played songs for a 100-yen coin each.
Instead of giving his karaoke machines away, Inoue leased them out so that stores did not have to buy new songs on their own. Originally, it was considered a somewhat expensive fad, as it lacked the live atmosphere of a real performance and 100 yen in the 1970s was the price of two typical lunches, but it caught on as a popular kind of entertainment. Karaoke machines were initially placed in restaurants and hotel rooms; soon, new businesses called karaoke boxes, with compartmented rooms, became popular. In 2004, Daisuke Inoue was awarded the tongue-in-cheek Ig Nobel Peace Prize for inventing karaoke, “thereby providing an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other.”
Karaoke soon spread to the rest of Asia and other countries all over the world. In-home karaoke machines soon followed but lacked success in the American and Canadian markets. When creators became aware of this problem, karaoke machines were no longer being sold strictly for the purpose of karaoke but as home theater systems to enhance television watching to “movie theater like quality”. Home theater systems took off, and karaoke went from being the main purpose of the stereo system to a side feature.
As more music became available for karaoke machines, more people within the industry saw karaoke as a profitable form of lounge and nightclub entertainment. It is not uncommon for some bars to have karaoke performances seven nights a week, commonly with high-end sound equipment superior to the small, stand-alone consumer versions. Dance floors and lighting effects are also becoming common sights in karaoke bars. Lyrics are often displayed on multiple television screens around the bar.