Karaoke Songbook Creation By: Bill Smith

April 8, 2008 by Mobile Beat Staff Writer

The creation of Karaoke songbooks for your Karaoke show should do several things FOR you.They should neatly and logically be organized so that even really drunken people can understand how to pick a song from your list. Sort alphabetically by song, or Artist, or BOTH!
A secondary purpose of your books should be to ADVERTISE your business, and get people thinking how they can book you for a show that is not centered in a club.
The books should also be fairly durable and easy to maintain.
Your books should be designed so that they look attractive and get people interested in looking inside.
Let’s start with basic items.

DECIDE HOW MANY TO CREATE:

If you are doing a small to medium sized club, 20-25 books should be all that is needed to adequately supply your audience. I have rarely passed out all 20, and never had an occasion where more than 20 were needed. If you have a huge club, you may decide that 30~50 are more adequate.

WHAT TO BUY:

Binders:

Most everyone in the Raleigh area and the country use some sort of 3 ring binder. I choose binders that have a clear plastic sheath on both sides. Within these sheaths I have printed off portrait size sheets of paper that have my company logo, a phone number, and advertising information. This is like having an 8×11 business card on the front and back of each book. I also believe that if your books look really elegant and classy, they will be taken care of better. I have only had to replace 1 book in three years.

You can buy these binders at places like Office Depot, Office Max, or some other office supply store. If you opt for plain binders, no sheaths, you can buy them for less than a dollar a piece at places like Walmart or Kmart, or other department stores. I buy 1 1/2 inch white binders with sheaths for about 1.65~2.00.

Sheet protectors:

Why sheet protectors? Well, if your clients spill beer or food on the pages, they are ruined and so is the book. Sheet protectors go a long way in protecting your investments and reduce the maintenance effort you spend in keeping the books clean for each performance. Buy the thinnest protectors you can, so that inserting song list sheets inside them is an easy task. These too, are available at an office supply store. You can get them in boxes of 100 and 200, so to find out how many you need for 20 books, multiply the number of books you want to make by the number of pages in your song list (E.G> 20 books x 61 pages=1200 sheet protectors /number of protector sheets in a package)

Pencil and slip pouches:

If you use the slip system, you need to buy pencil pouches like you used to have when you went to grade school. Inside these pouches you should have several pencils or pens, and sign up slips. Buy these at a department store, as they are cheaper.

Sign up Slips:

You can create your own (I do) or get to a Karaoke company on the web that will do this for you. I have seen several that will do this for you, and also make up batches of personalized pencils for a reasonable price. I designed mine in Microsoft PowerPoint, and keep a master sheet, and run off a bunch on my copier. They have 12 sign up slips on a page, with space for name, song, song number, and key change information. Again, sign up slips are also a GREAT WAY to advertise your business, so at a minimum, have your company name and logo and a phone number on them.

You have now bought everything you need to START to create a songbook. The next step is deciding on a software package to use to create your song lists.

Song List Creation

There are many ways to create song lists. I will show you a few with which I am most familiar. If you are a busy single op or multi op, you may not have or want to spend a lot of time making a list that is extremely personalized or intricate. There is a program called Karaoke Spigot, created by Biff Mele, headquartered in Florida. Here is the URL for the Karaoke Spigot http://www.karaokespigot.com/. This program by far is the best I have seen at performing the function of making a song list when you are in a big hurry, or wish to spend minimal time doing this task.

This program assumes that you use a Microsoft Operating System. The Spigot uses Microsoft ACCESS to create a customized song list based on CDG discs that you have bought. You can select multiple discs, add them, and create a song list from the master database (which is very impressive and is updated regularly). All the songs are transferred to your list. You can make lists that are sorted by disc, by artist, and by song. About once every two months, new updates with the newest song titles are available from the web site. You can update your song lists, then print them off, and take the list to a printer to get multiple copies made. There are some limitations. Unless it has changed very recently, you cannot export the list to a different program, like Excel while inside the Spigot. You also cannot change font size or type, unless that too has recently changed. And many of the features normally found in ACCESS are not available with the Spigot program. However, it is functional to make a song list, and does that very well.

I personally use Microsoft Excel. I like the customized approach that Excel provides me in selecting font size (which affects the number of pages you have to reproduce) I have also seen other song lists created on Macintoshes and Apples using a spreadsheet functionality on those operating systems as well.

So now you have created your song list, printed it off, and it is ready to take it to a printer.

Now Put It All Together

Be sure to get the best deal possible. Shop around, get the best price. Specify front and back pages (two sided copies) which of course should cut cost in half. I advise that you have a couple of extra copies made, and the reason for that will be obvious later as you read on.

You need a lot of room in your home to put the song lists inside the sheet protectors and then into the books.

Here is the best and most logical way to accomplish this:

Determine the number of sheet protectors for each book. If your song list is 61 pages long front and back, you need 31 sheet protectors. Add a couple of spares to each book for expansion of your song list.
Starting with a complete song list, insert the sheets into the sheet protectors of each of your books. A common mistake is to put them in backwards, so remember ODD numbers show first.
Put the pencil pouches in the front of the books, and fill them up with pencils and slips.
If you did as I do, place your information sheet in the front and back of your clear sheathes on the books. This final touch ensures that people know who you are, what you do, and get people interested in your business.
I reserve a page in the front of each book before the song list that has a welcome paragraph. I also include a list of do’s and don’ts, and things that I want and expect from the audiences. This is another chance to portray your self even more personally. Print one of these off and place it in each book.
Maintenance

As hard as you try, your books will need attention. Food and drink will get spilled on them. Use Windex and paper towels to disinfect and clean your exterior covers. Keep them clean, for obvious reasons. When a binder gets raggedy or if it breaks, replace it. Your image is always on display in the public eye, so make it a neat and tidy one. If you find that a book is totally ruined, try to salvage the sheet protectors, replace the binder, and reload with one of your spare copies of your song list.

Other Tips:

How often do I replace my list each year as I update with more songs?

This depends on the program you are using. In Excel, I create a section in my books called 1999 updates. Instead of replacing all 61 pages, I replace 8 pages per book, and reduce my workload in a significant manner.

The Karaoke Spigot can do that as well, and has the option in the print menu to create an “updates to the main song list”.

I plan on reducing the number of times I redo the whole song list to once a year from the two that I am doing now. Just make sure you point out to the audiences that your book has two sections, 1999 updates, and your main song list.
2. How often should I review my books for damage?

Go through your books after every performance and well before your next one. Flip through the pages, and clean as needed. Always make sure that you have plenty of pencils and slips on your books. Attention to detail is a virtue in this particular aspect of the Karaoke business.

Conclusion:

This article covers some of the finer points of Karaoke songbook creation. It does not cover all of the ways this can be done. If you have an equally effective method for creating songbooks, or know of some smart software out there, we would like to know about them, and will feature them in follow up articles and also credit you properly with their “discovery”. I hope that you found some good information in here about creating songbooks and that you will have some ideas about how much a song book costs to make and what goes into them.

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Mobile Beat Staff Writer (228 Posts)

This is the general editors account for Mobile Beat Magazine and Website. Who reads Mobile Beat online and in print and attends Mobile Beat events? DJs, VJs and KJs to start with, especially those who own and operate mobile entertainment services. They provide music, video, lighting and a myriad other entertainment choices for corporate events, wedding receptions, dances and innumerable other gatherings.


Filed Under: Karaoke