The History of Karaoke In America

Performing

Today, we forgo the mike drop in favor of the knowledge drop. Long, but worth knowing.

Karaoke has its roots in the Japanese custom of providing musical entertainment for guests during dinners or parties. Daisuke Inoue, a Japanese musician, is credited as the titular creator of the first karaoke machine in 1971, in response to requests for private recordings of his performances from guests at the Utagoe coffeehouses where he performed. These coffeehouses were venues where like-minded patrons would sing songs together, usually politically-themed, and were very popular for two decades stretching from the mid-fifties to the mid-seventies. With recordings of his works, the Utagoe patrons could sing along with music even when Inoue was absent.

This was not too different from a product used by performers elsewhere in the world. Where touring with a full band was impractical or too expensive for performing vocal groups to afford, it was often simpler and easier for them, their label or their promoter to commission a recording of their own records, minus the vocal tracks, and to serially provide that recording to each venue for playback during their performances. As these “minus-one” tracks were highly specific and of general use (it was thought at the time) to only the original artists, the tracks were not mass-produced.

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Karaoke Cloud Music City Summit 2012 “The Name Game” by Bob Latshaw

Latshaw is no stranger to technology, he wrote his first computer program in 1977 at nine-before the pc existed. After falling in love with karaoke in 2001, he began mentioning his expertise to the dj’s and kj’s he met; four years later Latshaw systems was born.

His first prototype of the product “SongbooksLive.com” reveals the mentality of most VJ’s and their desire to keep sharing without crediting to a minimal. He then developed a way for the file to include to whom it was licensed.

Karaoke is unique however, and it has an advantage over other items that are typically shared. It’s public, unlike an ebook.

To stray away from the CD age and successfully take stake in the digital realm:

  • stick to MP3+G this tech needs to stick around for many many years to come. Stay away from video, it’s just pictures and too easy for someone else to edit
  • If youre going to offer downloads, you’ll want to zip them because it makes for a neater package.
  • this is something microsoft knows and Latshaw is willing to share: older programs can’t keep up with newest zip compression- so it’s advisable to stick to the oldest format.
  • And finally, something Latshaw learned a long time ago: above all else “Keep the Singers Happy”