As a karaoke host, one of my many responsibilities it locating fresh, relevant music as well as finding the classics that people want to sing to. I have invested a lot of money is karaoke music for my company. It is the single biggest expense up front and on a monthly basis for my business.
When I first started, I needed to quickly obtain a large amount of music to accommodate the singers. I starting searching on eBay and Craigslist and was fortunate to find some phenomenal deals on large karaoke CD+G collections between the two.
As I expanded to running multiple systems, I considered trying to duplicate everything across all systems but realized very quickly that would not be practical. There are many karaoke tracks that were only produced by one karaoke company and only on discs. Some of those discs are rare and expensive if you you do happen to find them.
About two years ago, I started buying downloads from Karaoke Version and KaraokeDownloads.ca. Even though the individual tracks and more expensive, it was still less expensive than buy a $10-$15 disc with that ONE track I needed. Not to mention, I wasn’t dealing with discs period any longer which just makes sense in this digital age.
Today, I still buy discs when I find great deals, but stick to buying downloads for newer karaoke tracks.
Here are some links to some places to find karaoke tracks (note – there are quite a few more, but I am only suggesting the ones I have used with any regularity)
This is a karaoke music search engine. It is one of the few remaining databases on the web these days. It links out to the two following sites to buy downloads –
Out of France. They produce backing tracks (no graphics) as well as full MP3+G, WMV, and MP4 versions of many popular karaoke tracks. They have a “frequent buyer” program and you can even suggest tracks to be made that then get voted on by the community. This is my go to brand.
Out of Canada. This site aggregates and distributes Sunfly, ZOOM, SBI, Abraxa and a small number of other brands. They don’t actually make tracks themselves, just distribute on behalf of the mentioned companies. Very comprehensive selection.
All three of these are out of the UK. You can sometimes find tracks on these manufacturer sites that don’t show up on KaraokeDownloads.ca – However, with the recent implementation of the “No Fly” list (will be posting on this topic soon), a small number of well known artists are no longer available for download and can now only be purchased on CD+G.
Final note – Due to the screwy copyright laws in the US, the non-US companies are “supposed” to deny access to computers with IP addresses that indicate they are physically located in the United State. In my experience, they aren’t blocking very consistently if at all. I can access, purchase and download from ALL of the above sites. KaraokeDownloads.ca is out of Canada which does not have the geo-blocking restriction so you should be able to get to that site even if you can’t get to the individual manufacturer sites.
Where do you get your karaoke music?
Almost 2 1/2 years ago, I wrote my first blog post here. When I wrote, I had a goal – get the word out about an issue I was having with getting all of my certification information in order from one of the karaoke manufacturers.
I didn’t give any thought to anything beyond that. I wanted a platform to complain, maybe find a few others that had a similar issue, and then……
Over time, I have posted about other karaoke related topics, certifications, legalities, karaoke services, etc. No real consistent theme behind it. Speaking of consistent….I haven’t been very….consistent in posting.
Prior to this post – August 30th, 2013 – was my last post.
Not a very good showing for someone that is as invested in karaoke as I am.
Today I am rebooting the blog.
It will have a clear focus – all things karaoke – a very broad topic considering the current state of karaoke. I will probably spend a fair amount of time on piracy and what I know about the legalities of running a legitimate karaoke show, but I don’t want to get too bogged down in all of that. Karaoke shouldn’t be about any of that at all. It should be about having fun with friends while butchering songs and drinking. But the harsh reality is that karaoke is about legalities, licensing and piracy. So I will have to go there and I expect those post to generate some of the more….colorful…..responses.
I have a show to run tonight so tomorrow I will be mapping out the 1st half-dozen or so posts I want to do.
I hope to have the first one ready to go by Sunday.
Two days ago, I spoke with a representative from DigiTrax (they operate KaraokeCloudPro.com) to get some clarification on the Vetted KJ program. It cleared up a few things for me, raised a couple more questions that I have since decided aren’t important, and made up my mind on what to do about certifying my Chartbuster CD+G collection.
Here is a little recap to make sure everyone is on the same page –
Chartbuster Karaoke produced karaoke CD+G’s for something close to 20 years. They also produced memory stick and hard drive based collections of their karaoke library toward the end of their life. Chartbuster ceased production early in 2012.
DigiTrax Entertainment aka The Karaoke Cloud obtained the rights to reproduce a large portion of the Chartbuster Karaoke catalog. Much of the older content that is on Karaoke Cloud is actually re-branded Chartbuster content. New releases over the past year or so are new tracks produced for Karaoke Cloud.
Piracy Recovery, LLC is responsible for protecting the copyrights and trademarks the Chartbuster Karaoke brand (and to the best of my knowledge, the Karaoke Cloud brand).
Here are the important parts of my conversation with DigiTrax –
There is an audit program available to KJ’s who have a collection of Chartbuster Discs. The audit is voluntary and has no length of term. In other words, unlike the current Sound Choice audit and the former Chartbuster Audits, both of which certified for a term of 1 year, the new audit of Chartbuster material states something like this – “On this date, xx/xx/xxxx we certify that this digital library meets 1-1 compliance with CD+G’s”.
This makes sense in my opinion because once the audit is complete, it is a matter of a few key-strokes on a computer to start downloading karaoke via Torrents, iRC, and other pirate sites. I know there are pirates out there that try to borrow discs for audits only to give them back afterwards (I was approached by a local pirate to do exactly this just after I received my Sound Choice certification). So I am perfectly fine with the change of the wording.
But, Piracy Recovery doesn’t appear to be interested in media-shifters that are 1-1 compliant (ie; those that own their discs and have a 1-1 ratio of CD+G tracks to computer based tracks). I don’t know how they confirm people are 1-1 without an audit and I think it leaves a gaping whole for pirates to leverage, but so long as they aren’t specifically targeting media-shifters, I am again fine with the policy.
This, by the way, is different from Sound Choice policy which requires you to have permission from them (usually in the form of an audit) to media-shift at all.
Ultimately, if you do decide to go through a Chartbuster Audit, you receive a “point-in-time” certification, but you do NOT become a Vetted KJ.
To become a Vetted KJ (must have a Google account to view), you have to be a subscriber to the Karaoke Cloud or the Hits of the Month cloud subscriptions. This is not a vetted KJ list as much as a public list of subscribers. It will be interesting to see if they continue to leave this list public since it gives some indication to how many subscribers they have.
This means either a $99/mo subscription to the all inclusive Karaoke Cloud (and potentially more up front costs since there are a limited number of karaoke hosting programs that work with the Karaoke Cloud Service)
Subscribing to Hits of the Month which I could not find a subscription price for. The current August Hits for Country is $14.99 for 10 tracks and another $14.99 for the August Pop/Rock/R&B collection (also 10 tracks). I can’t say definitively what the cost of subscribing to the Hits of the Month would be because I don’t know if they require you do one or the other other or both. Let’s call it somewhere between $15 and $30/mo.
I don’t particularly agree with requiring a subscription to be a Vetted KJ for two reasons –
1) The Karaoke Cloud is really only a good deal for multi-riggers (which are fewer in number than single rig hosts) and new hosts just getting into the business. Long time single rig karaoke hosts that have invested thousands of dollars in Chartbuster material on CD+G have no reason to subscribe to the Karaoke Cloud. Even newer hosts can buy Chartbuster content at bargain basement prices on eBay. They have most of not all of those tracks already on the Cloud. Not to mention those that invested thousands of dollars in the Chartbuster 600+/12000+ hard drives that were sold near the end of Chartbuster’s life. The hard drive buyers are easy to vet – our names and a serial number are printed on the drives.
My two Chartbuster 12000+ drives
2) The Hits of the Month are anything but. Personally, I spend more than $50/mo for new music by buying individual tracks. This is 1/2 or more of a Karaoke Cloud Subscription and may $20-40 more than the Hits of the Month, But I also know that I am buying exactly the requested songs and getting my money’s worth from them. The Monthly Hits subscription means you are at the mercy of the Karaoke Cloud and what they deliver each month. The music may or may not be what your audience wants to sing. I may be spending more, but every song I buy is getting sung.
So even though I own >1000 original Chartbuster Karaoke CD+G discs and own 2 Chartbuster 12000+ drives, I can’t be qualified as a Vetted KJ without signing up for music that I don’t really want or need. even if I paid for an audit of my Chartbuster Karaoke discs, I would still not be “vetted”. There are a LOT of karaoke hosts out there in my same position.
At the end of this, I currently have no plans to do an audit of my Chartbuster Discs. I just don’t see the value in doing so. The Sound Choice process protects you from legal action so long as you play by the rules -AND- in theory, has a suppressing effect on piracy of at least Sound Choice content. Doing a Chartbuster audit results only in the KJ receiving a piece of paper saying “As of this date you were A-OK but beyond that we don’t know or seem to care”. I did not ask if doing a Chartbuster disc audit provided a “covenant not to sue” or any other legal protections, but it was implied that Piracy Recovery, LLC was not interested in 1-1 compliant media-shifters, only true pirates. If that is the case, I can easily demonstrate 1-1 compliance in the unlikely event I am ever named.
So there you have it. Keep in mind that I am not an attorney or an intellectual property expert. I encourage you to speak to an attorney that work in intellectual property if you have questions.
It has been a long while now since I have posted to my blog. I keep telling myself to be more active and then something else gets in the way.
Today I ran across something that I feel deserves a little more attention.
If you were previously Chartbuster Certified and/or purchase downloads from KaraokeCloud.com – this is the outfit that enforces copyright/trademark for Chartbuster and Digitrax material.
They are filing suits against KJ’s and venues. I have not seen any action in the Northwest yet, but they appear to be actively “vetting” venues and KJ’s in some areas. They have a “Vetted KJ’s” list and I have asked them to contact me so I can find out how to go about getting “vetted”. Unfortunately, they are hosting the list on Google Docs forcing you to sign up for a Google account to view the list.
I find it a little disturbing that I have not been contacted by Piracy Recovery, LLC given how vocal I am in my local community as well as a global karaoke forum where Piracy Recovery is almost certainly monitoring posts. In fact, many other hosts I know that were formerly certified by Chartbuster through an audit or who purchased Chartbuster 6000+/12000+ are not on their list. Again, some of us a pretty vocal and I am confident they know exactly who we are.
The karaoke industry needs some positive action to take place outside of the venues where hard working hosts promote having a great time. It would seem to me that Piracy Recovery would jump through hoops to get a hold of people that are anti-piracy *and* have demonstrated their willingness to be pro-active about audits, certifications and other means of showing they are operating above board. The likes of Sound Choice and Piracy Recovery need people on their side to help temper the negative reactions that have and will encounter.
Don’t ignore the people that are on your side.
Odyssey FRGS1016WDLX (case) – (installed)
2 x Electro-Voice ELX112P (tops) – (arrives this week)
1 x Electro-Voice ELX118P (sub) – (ready to connect)
Allen & Heath ZED-12FX (mixer) – (arrives this week)
FMR Audio RNC1773 (compressor) – (installed)
VocoPro UHF-5805 (supporting wireless mics) – (installed)
Shure Super 55 (main stage mic) – (ready to connect)
dbx DriveRack PA+ (EQ/Feedback/PA Management) – (arrives early next week)
It’s nothing much to look at right now but it will of course get filled in over the next week!
I am also ordering up some new lights for this rig. Guitar Center sells combo packs of lights with lighting tree stands. I have had good luck with them in my other rigs so I will be dropping by to pick one up this weekend. But I love the lasers!
AmericanDJ Micros Hypnotic (ready to connect)
Chauvet Scorpion GBC 2.0 (arrives early next week)
Chauvet Scorpion RGY (arrives early next week)
All this for a karaoke show? Hell yeah!
Here is what I have so far….
Odyssey FRGS1016WDLX (case)
2 x Electro-Voice ELX112P (tops)
Allen & Heath ZED-12FX (mixer)
FMR Audio RNC1773 (compressor)
VocoPro UHF-5805 (supporting wireless mics)
Shure Super 55 (main stage mic)
All that is left is to nail down a dbx DriveRack PA+ and then It is pretty much all set.
I have all the cabling as well as a laptop that is ready to go.
I decided to go with the smaller ELX112P main PA’s because 1) cheaper, 2) smaller/weigh less. The smaller 12” dome should actually deliver tighter bass when couple with the ELX118P sub.
I also decided to go with the ZED-12FX over the ZED-60-10FX because of the Mic inserts on the 12FX supporting TRS jacks. This makes bypassing for effects units and the RNC1773 very simple.
Will show pics of the build out over the next week!
Today I received my brand new Odyssey FRGS1016WDLX case! I have had my eyes on this case for about 2 years now. The sliding platform on top for a laptop is what initially sold me. But now that I have it put together, the front panel conversion to a side table that can be used on either side of the rig is also very slick.
My plan is to drop a ZED60-10FX in the top slant along with a DMX lighting controller. Then add a power conditioner, dbx DriveRack PA+, RNC 1773 compressor, wireless mic receiver and drawers for the rest of my karaoke gear.
For more info and specs on the case – Odyssey FRGS1016WDLX