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 β€œminus-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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