THE EVOLVING WORLD OF KARAOKE
Market Expands as Companies Diversify Services
Karaoke was born in Japan over 30 years ago. As singing is something that can be easily enjoyed by everyone, karaoke quickly gained popularity and is now a well-known part of popular culture. There are more and more karaoke establishments that, in addition to allowing patrons to have fun singing, have expanded their services through such means as presenting customers with delicious food in a lavish space or giving them the opportunity to soak in a hot bath. In addition to technological advances, these innovations in the environments offered by karaoke establishments are driving the industry forward.
The Advent of "Karaoke Boxes"
One of the first major technological developments was the display on a video monitor of the song's lyrics a few seconds before the words are to be sung, as karaoke machines had originally provided only sound. Images befitting the mood of the song were added, and more recently some karaoke machines have been equipped with technology that allows them to judge the singer's performance and rank it against the thousands of others singing nationwide. Perhaps another secret to their popularity is the fact that karaoke machines also let users employ echo and other sound effects to make their singing sound better.
Karaoke was originally popular mainly at drinking establishments, but its user base kept broadening, leading to the appearance of home karaoke machines and "karaoke boxes"—small rented private rooms equipped with a karaoke machine—which are now the dominant venue for karaoke. At a karaoke box, customers can sing their favorite songs in a room with just their friends, without having to worry about what anyone else might think of their tunes.
While young women are the biggest karaoke customers, this pastime is popular with people of both genders and all ages. Whenever Japanese companies or groups of friends arrange a get-together to celebrate a special occasion, the partygoers often choose to go out for karaoke afterward. Karaoke is an effective means of facilitating communication among people.
Karaoke Establishments Expand Services
Some places provide rooms individually designed around different themes or extravagant, luxurious spaces; some even feature foot baths or jet baths. What could be more relaxing than soaking your feet in a warm foot bath while singing your favorite songs? Other karaoke boxes boast such features as DVD players, game consoles, home-cinema systems, and nostalgic retro interiors. A visit to a karaoke establishment is a great way for guests to see Japan, letting their hair down as well as experiencing Japanese hi-tech entertainment. (October 2008)
Copyright (C)2008 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.