Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Karaoke Killed the Live Music Star

Got some things on my mind. Gonna do some ranting...

My band, after one year at the same place, has just lost our gig. Severe bummage! Budget cuts. Everyone has recession on the brain. Valid arguments. BUT, I don't think it's that. I think it's Karaoke. For my old friends, you need not read any further. I've been offering up my theory for YEARS to my poor friends. You know how Al Gore was talkin' global warming since college? Since waaaaay before "An Inconvenient Truth"? Yup, that's me and my "Karaoke Killed Live Music" conspiracy theory.

Back in the day, live music was KING. You couldn't walk into a bar without live entertainment. And then, to be a musician... whoa! Can you say Gene Simmons?!?!?! Musicians were KING!

Then came karaoke in the 80's. I have no idea of the history of karaoke. You can look on Wikipedia--it's there, I checked.

Anyhoo, crappy mikes, a sound system with massive reverb (that's echo-- covers up the sh**ty vocal skills) and key adjustment capabilities(that's higher and lower-- when you cannot reach the notes) and plays vocal-less music tracks. When you possess these things you have everything you need to ruin a perfectly good song for anyone listening to you... for ALL time( if you don't happen to be someone who can sing). Sometimes, when a musician/singer listens to a bad karaoke rendition of a favorite song, it can bring on a near bout Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. My special karaoke song that I can NEVER listen to again, BTW is the CLASSIC: "Neither One of Us", by Gladys Knight & the Pips. sniffle.

So, as I was saying: 1) Live music was King 2) Musicians were King 3) Enter Karaoke. Here's 4) More profitable to establishments. $1 per song, plus booze, plus more songs because of more booze, plus more booze because of more songs... it's a cycle and a racket.

As a business major, I get the theory. You're going to make more money catering to 100 Joe Schmoe's that will each drink $100 worth of booze, while they each sing 10-15 songs, while garnering their 15 minutes of fame, than paying a band $300-400 dollars for two hours of solid music--and for alot less effort on your part. See, I am a numbers person. But the bottom line is that over time, the value of and respect for the true musician has dwindled to almost nothing because now many non-musicians think they are musicians. And then, it's all about money now. My bandmate also plays with another band. They play for 4-1/2 hours and her take is $60.00. She is waaaaaay too talented to make only $60 for over 4 hours. That is a deeeeeeeep love for your craft, your passion.

Musicians are certainly not the respected breed we once were and that lack of respect shows up in the paycheck, the ability to find a place to play, and lower concert attendance in some cases.

"Maybe you guys sucked", you say? LOL. Always possible, but I doubt it. And I know... karaoke's not evil, it's fun. I know that. I dabble in it m'self occasionally. I'm just saying that much like the way Starbucks has changed the palette of the coffee drinker to crave "the bite" and not be able to appreciate a smooth, full-bodied cup-o-joe, Karaoke has changed the ability of people to distinguish between singing for fun and singing because if you don't, you'll die.

Here's to AFTER 5. Long live authentic live music...


soshiro said...


You hit the nail on the head. You know, I'm all for the advancement of technology, but it's killing the industry. In the old days you had to have some serious talent because record labels were putting up $100,000 to record an album. Nowadays, any Tom, Dick or Harry can make a CD off their PC. The result, confused consumers who don't know the difference between good music and random chord changes by wannabee songwriters. What happened to theory anyway????

Another villain...Rock Band. Now, I must admit I love playing the game myself, but I do not fool myself into thinking I am a REAL musician because I can score high on the game. Rock Band is to musicians what Karaoke is to singers. But it totally can't compare to being a real musician. Anela is a real guitar player. He is GOOD. He is "wet your panties" GOOD. LOL!!!! I wanna see those Guitar Heroes try to do THAT!

Faithie, you are so awesome. I am so proud to play with you. Let's enjoy our break and then I'll get us out there again.


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