So you want to go Digital with your Karaoke show?

April 8, 2009 by Eric Godfrey

by Eric Godfrey,
President of US Karaoke Alliance
President, Starz Entertainment

Eric having a good time at a Karaoke show!

Eric having a good time at a Karaoke show!

US Karaoke Alliance (www.uskaraokealliance.com) members can get free help and advice and also have the ability to deal with manufacturers for discounts on collections.

1st thing – let’s keep it legal!
All File Sharing sites and all Pre-Loaded Hard Drives are illegal.  Most of the sites I have seen on forums and chat boards for Karaoke downloads are also not paying copyrights and royalties.  The only 2 legal sites I am aware of are http://venuevj.com and Karaoke.com.  Several other sites are in negotiations to get legal content up, but according to sources at the major karaoke disc publishers, these two are currently the only legal sites offering downloads.  Before you hit me with a million comments ask yourself this question, “If Panorama or Top Hits Monthly went out of busines in 2008 due to copyright and trademark infringements and thus no longer exist, how could someone be paying royalties and copyrights when selling their karaoke content? How could that money be getting back to the artists?”  Let us quote Mr. Freedom Williams…”Things That Make You Go Hmmm.”

Directly from all of the disc manufacturer’s – With the exceptions of the sites above, NONE of the download sites out there are paying royalties and copyright fees.  I know… they say they are… but they are NOT!  Save yourself heartache… buy the new products coming out in MP3+G format and stay tuned for new legal sources.  More legal stuff at the bottom of this article.

Getting started: PC or  Laptop specs:

A Rack mountable PC is preferable as it can be upgraded over time and can have extra cards etc added.  However laptop prices have come down so far we have switched almost entirely over to laptops.  You do not need the newest, fastest, best laptop.  Remember your show laptop is just that… Do not add unneeded programs and do not go on and off the internet with your show PC.

Here are some PC specs..
Processor –    Minimum: 800MhZ       Recommended: 1.2 GHz+ ( Intel or AMD is fine) Celeron is fine!
Memory – Minimum: 512 MB              Recommended: 1GB
Video – Need an S-Video output jack for your CDG video screen unless you get a converter for a VGA port and PC allows you to extend screen to the monitor.. All with S-Video and or Composite (RCA out) allow this
Sound Card – Most onboard sound cards will work fine (standard) but Gemini just came out with a great USB sound card for DJ / KJ purposes.
Operating System – You can use Win XP or Vista – Recommend XP – Vista is glitchy (in my humble opinion)
Peripherals – I would recommend a minimum of 2 USB ports, but prefer you have 4  and that they be USB2 compatible (speed issue)
Hard Drive capacity – Most laptops (unless you spend a great deal) do not offer a great deal of Hard Drive space – Recommend an external USB Hard Drive minimum of 320GB, preferably 500GB or more.  TigerDirect.com or buy.com are great places to buy these.
DO NOT BUY a WESTERN DIGITAL MYBOOK DRIVE OR ANY DRIVE LISTED AS A “GREEN DRIVE”  They go into a sleep mode and lock up the Karaoke Player Program.
Writable CD (CDRW) or DVD Writer on board PC. Or buy an external.  Roxbox Rip N Zip will work with almost all CD writers but a Plextor is preferred.
ANY PC meeting these specs is fine – I personally prefer IBM, Lenovo, Toshiba, Compaq, HP or Dell PC’s

Ripping your CDG Collection to Hard Drive

Most CD Rom’s do not have capability to read CDG’s.  Plextor makes drives that read them properly.  The ripping program (KJ Rip N Zip) will literally teach most drives to read a CDG when ripping, but if you get an external Plextor drive it would rip faster and easier.
http://www.provantage.com/plextor-px-q840u~7PLEX24W.htm

KJ Rip N Zip (RoxBox) uses the naming convention for KJPro -KJPro.com so when ripping you type in the CD’s code and it will read out of it’s database and name the files for you.

You can also use MP3GToolz for ripping and renaming.. you will have to read their help files for info, but they are an awesome resources as you need to work on your file structures and names..

Hosting your show:

I have tried:
Tricerasoft – I know they have made improvements but it was way to complex for multiple operators t many shows.
PCDJ FX + Karaoke – Same as above and I have always had issues with the indexing features being extremely slow.
Siglos – Good Program – but a bit too busy for me and found some glitchiness in trying to run entire show.
Sax N Dotty – our early choice as best program… added history… but very very (yes I used very twice) poor support and a hardware failure replaced means you need a new activation code and now you have to wait for someone in Europe to get back to you.
CompuHost – Awesome program, a bit too much stuff makes it a bit more intense to operate and I REALLY worry about losing my USB thumb drive and having the program go into demo mode (also using up one USB port)
Hoster – Very good software, very simple to use.  Cost is a bit higher and it does not keep history as well as Roxbox and it also ties to the hardware with your activation code.

Roxbox – Software that is easiest and makes for best show is Roxbox  – www.kjamp.com
You also want to buy their KJ Rip N Zip Program for ripping your CDG’s to  Hard Drive. Only one of these with ability to rip Super CDG to your hard drive.  Great functionality with mixing background music in.

BACKUP
****NEWSFLASH****  Computers can fail.. Have a backup at any private or bigger show. Have something on call or on site at all bar style shows.   Always have some back up means to play some music in the event you have a PC lock up so you can play some dance music while rebooting.   An inexpensive MP3 Player or Disc Player is a great option for this.  Remember… it happens and you need to be ready.

LEGALITY
The entire DJ industry lives in the gray area of law… Music Publishers and Artists licensed CDG’s (to the few companies actually paying legal licensing fees) only to be distributed via the CDG.  The Karaoke Publishers can not give you blanket permission to put music on a hard drive or they risk being sued (…again!) by the various publishing houses.  Several Karaoke manufacturers have agreed as long as you purchase one for one copies of CDG’s and are willing to prove that via validation they will not pursue legal actions against individuals or companies using purchased content on a hard drive.  They do, however, reserve the right to be able to validate catalogs and keep a record of songs purchased that are used on a hard drive so they can keep track of who is actually displaying validated content.  An efficient validation program is being worked on currently and of course will be adapted over time to deal with issues as they occur.

Pop Hits Monthly has started releasing MP3+G disks and Sound Choice is currently working on new content being released on MP3+G, so we have come a long way on this.  Stand by as there are going to be major developments in this area in the very near future. 

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Eric Godfrey (14 Posts)

Eric Godfrey
www.starzentertainment.net
info@starzentertainment.net
Highest Customer Service Rating in Phoenix Market – theknot.com – Best of the Knot 2007 & 2008
Voted Best DJ In Phoenix – www.citysearch.com – 2007 & 2008
Voted Best Karaoke show in Phoenix – azcentral.com – 2007 – Starz has hosted the Karaoke at Stadium Club in Chandler for 7 years.
AZ Bride – Voted BEST OVERALL WEDDING VENDOR IN ARIZONA 2006
AZ Bride – Voted Best DJ Service in Arizona – 2006


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