The karaoke business isn't known for being on the cutting edge of technology. Pop in a disc made 10 years ago, stare at a small monitor as lyrics fly by. And if you want to record your voice, you'd better have a cassette tape handy to pop into the machine.
The Singing Machine Co. in Coconut Creek is giving karaoke a high-tech makeover with the launch of a digital karaoke song store and products that can be docked to mp3 players and share performances on social networks.
Coming up with a digital solution is vital to keeping the 27-year-old company fresh. Stores are stocking fewer karaoke CDs, and fewer CDs in general. The machines are sold for personal jam sessions -- not for a bar's karaoke night. The company is facing growing competition for at-home singing entertainment from video games like Rock Band, not to mention online communities of karaoke nuts who record their performances on webcams and share with the world -- no matter how bad they are.
So The Singing Machine partnered with Montreal-based Stingray Digital Media Group to kick-start an online store and community, called The Karaoke Channel, which is like an iTunes for karaoke lovers. Songs with sing-along lyric graphics cost $1.49, and a song without lyrics costs 99 cents. So far there are nearly 6,000 songs available to download.
The store also provides free software to play the songs on a computer, create a video playlist, an .mp4 file to play on portable devices like an iPod or Zune, or burn karaoke discs with lyrics, called a CD+G (a compact disc with graphics) that can be played in any karaoke machine.
And if you're a karaoke nut, you can enter The Singing Machine's contest to win a machine. All you have to do is become a Fan of The Singing Machine's Facebook page and upload a video of your performance to the company's online network... but then be sure to go back to Facebook share the link on the company's fan page. You can read details about it here. Contest ends August 11th.