Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ask A KJ

I've been a KJ (Karaoke Jockey) for longer than I care to recall.  There aren't that many of us around these parts because karaoke is such a niche venue on a small island (that's why we all know each other).  Karaoke has had some great runs over the years but times change, people change, technologies change and that brings us to today.

Hoped you like my opening spiel.  I know I discontinued The Karaoke Report but since karaoke is still on my list of things of like occasionally I'm going to blog about it.  This is one of those occasions.

I was reading forums on a site I pass through everyone once in a while when I want to be reminded that my issues pale in comparison to KJs who do this sort of thing as their full time job. Based on my experiences in the biz I'd like to answer some of the questions and statements I get most often about being a karaoke host.  Should be a fun ride.

You don't have anything by *insert name of soca artist, calypso artist or any reggae artist who isn't Bob Marley*?!

I usually have to shut this question down the moment I get it especially if they just heard me play a soca song, a calypso song or a reggae song by an artist who isn't Bob Marley.  Karaoke makers don't just up and translate every song known to man ever to karaoke.  There has to be sufficient enough demand for it.  If a song isn't hitting the Top 40 in the US or the UK chances are it's not getting a karaoke version.  While I do have SOME songs that fit this bill they were mostly homemade by enthusiasts who shelled out the money to build their own karaoke songs.

So why don't you make your own karaoke songs?

I have in the past.  And let me tell you it's a pain the ass.  I literally have to learn the song myself to make an accurate port.  It takes many, many hours to get it right.  Not to mention that I have to find a decent instrumental version of the song too.  I haven't done it recently because I have yet to find a format I'm comfortable building songs on.  I'll keep it in mind for future projects though.

Why can't you be more entertaining?

You're missing the point of karaoke.  I'm not here to amuse you.  I'm here to provide you with the means to amuse yourself.  I don't make the show.  YOU'RE the show.  It's all about YOU.

But this other host I know is soooo funny...

That's nice and I hope that's working out for them.  I run a simple show and I do it on purpose.  Once again, the show isn't about me. It's about YOU.

Really?  So then why are you singing?

If you host a karaoke show singing songs is unavoidable.  It's like being in kindergarten, bringing a huge box of toys to school, dropping them all on the floor for your classmates to play with but not actually playing with any of the toys yourself.  Now most hosts realize that (you're already tired of reading this but) the show isn't about them.  It's about YOU.  These days I only insert myself in the rotation if there's a lot of slow songs back to back or if it's a slow night.  When it gets busy I don't sing at all.

Hey, it's getting late and I've got to get going.  Is it cool if I get my turn now?

No.  It's not cool.  I publish rotation rules in my songbooks for a reason.  Yes I can and have bent and broken those rules but it depends on certain factors. 

Ok, how about if I drop $10 in your tip jar?

That'll do it.  LOL!  I'm not ashamed to admit I can and will accept bribes to bump you up in a rotation.  It would be nice if you were just tipping me for a job well done but realistically people rarely tip their KJ.

Hey, I've been keeping track of the rotation and I don't see how *random guest* got ahead of me!

Ok, first off arguing with the KJ is a bad idea.  When customers get irate I tend to give security the nod.  Just sayin'.  But to answer you, see the previous question.  I never said my rotation rules are infallible.  Also, are you sure you read my rules.  There's one in there that says if someone is new they get placed at the top of the rotation.  If you've already had 4-5 songs for the night you really shouldn't be complaining because someone is getting to sing their first song of the night.

Can I just hold on to this microphone and be your co-host?

No.  Kindly return the microphone to where you found it.  How would YOU feel if I was running around and interrupting your song and acting a fool on the microphone while you were singing your song?  All I ask is you extend the same courtesy to the audience that they extended to you.

Well screw you and your equipment I'm taking the microphone anyway.


Your microphones aren't that great anyway.

I know.  I'd love to have some awesome expensive microphones but anything can happen when you mix alcohol and expensive equipment.  Trust me, the bar isn't going to replace my stuff if you break it.  I think in my experience I've had to replace my mic systems at least 10 times.  My current mics have lasted the longest.

I don't want a karaoke song.  Just put something on so I can freestyle.

Usually I frown on this.  It can get out of hand and I've seen it happen.  I tend to be cool about it as long as you don't hold up the show being picky about your background music and you take your leave when the song is over.  I'm not giving you a concert.

Do you have *random song*?  Yeah!  I wanna sing it next!

While I appreciate your enthusiasm (probably assisted by a few libations), you aren't singing next.  The only way you sing next is if there's absolutely no one else on my rotation list.

So how long is the wait?

It's *random number* songs.

I can't wait that long!  I'm leaving!

See ya. *ignoring the sour look as they leave*

*Me announcing my list is closed for the night* Can't we just do one more song?

*sigh* Closing time is the roughest time for me.  People are grooving and getting into things but all good things must end...and I have an 8-5 to get to in the later.  Now the reason I close my list at a certain point is that I've estimated what songs I have left in my rotation to the time I'm supposed to end the show.  However, despite announcing quite clearly several times in that interval that my list is indeed closed I still get people who want to play what I call "The One More Game".  The reason I have to play that game sooo hard is because the minute I let someone actually have one more it opens the floodgates for extra requests.  It can easily add and extra 30 minutes of time I'm not getting paid for to my schedule.  So if you're going to be for just one more it would really be in your best interest to drop something in my tip jar.

Please give me one more song.  I promise I'll tip you.

You're not fooling anyone.  I've only seen this happen only about 20% of the time.  I've seen people pretend to drop money in my tip jar.  There's only one thing I hate more than the One More Game and that's being lied to.  Don't make promises to me you have no intention of keeping.  That especially goes to the ladies who promise sexual favors (yes, it's really happened; no I've never taken a single offer seriously).

Why are you stopping so early?  Last week you went until 2.

I'm aware that my hours aren't exactly published but I'll tell anyone who asks that it's a 3-hour show.  Hour 4 is a gift that YOU the audience must earn either by vigorously patronizing the venue I'm working at or meeting my minimum tip requirement (I'm not telling you what it is but I can tell you it's more than $10).

I can't hear myself singing.

You should try singing INTO the microphone.

Ok, I still can't hear myself singing.

Oh, let me turn up your volume. :)


You shouldn't sing so close to the speaker. :)

I don't sound very good.  Is your equipment working?

I don't know.  When you get that recording contract have your sound guys come down and check it out for me.  Seriously though, don't expect too much. It's karaoke not Springsteen Live.

What's that song by what's her name?  I want to sing that.

Help me out here, people.  I need a name or an artist.  If you have neither I can't help you.  Fortunately I can even work around mismatched songs and artists but I gotta have at least one to work with.  If you don't know then be prepared to sing some of it for me.


I'm sure I'll come up with more.  I'll save those for another day.

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