Your Karaoke Business: The Competition Question

By Robb Ellicson of

For a long time mentioning the word competition regarding my karaoke business generally referred to the twenty or so other karaoke companies in my city. Through the years, different focuses have come and gone as to how to be a step ahead of those companies; the way I market, if they are legal, having DJ lighting, adding in (or subtracting) other elements, etc.

DEX 3 singing karaoke

In the three years, as I stepped to the side a bit for another project, I took a different look at what my competition actually was. I’m going to share with you here my insights on what I discovered, hopefully it will help your business a little bit.

The first (and perhaps the most stunning, to me at least) thing that I realized is that I am not actually competing with other karaoke companies as much as I thought I was. It’s very rare for an opposing karaoke company to come in and try to steal one of my shows. That was a problem I encountered much more frequently in the early 2000’s than I do now. I attribute that to the way I conduct my business in that I don’t do it to others and never talk down my competition. I don’t believe in karma. I think it is simply a matter of earning respect through ethical business practices.

That lead me to look at why I’m not always making the sale with a new venue (especially if the venue manager isn’t shopping me around). The answer is that my biggest competition isn’t other karaoke hosts, it is non-karaoke activities. In the ‘good old days’ (maybe 5 years ago or less) vendor provided activities were basically DJ, Karaoke, and/or Trivia. In house activities were softball, pool, and dart leagues.

Now, not only are there more types of vendor activities then ever there are more in house activities. The current trend is to open a bar that revolves around one or more of these activities. Venues around my city have table top game bars, RPG bars, video game bars, VINTAGE video game bars, ping pong bars, ax throwing bars (thank god ax catching bars haven’t happened yet- that sounds super dangerous), the list goes on — and is growing.

While my company has taken the ‘if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them’ route by offering other activities — karaoke still has my heart and I want it to survive and thrive.

So the question is what do we do about it?

The first step is to stop thinking of other karaoke companies as competition. Extend an olive branch and solidify that you are all on the same side and that sides focus should be growing and cultivating the singer community. After all, those people are what the bars that employ you are paying for, and now they have more distractions then ever. We have to not only keep our singers happy, but have their numbers grow.

I promise, in my next article I will share with you some of the things that I’ve done to keep both mine and my cities singer community interested and involved.

In the meantime I’d like to hear your feedback as to what we, as the karaoke industry, need to do to make this happen. Please comment in the comments section below and share your thoughts!