Hey everyone! Before getting started, I am new to this blog and new to blogging altogether so please bear with me.
I am Eric Godfrey, President of the US Karaoke Alliance www.USKaraokeAlliance.com. I am owner of Starz Entertainment, (www.StarzEntertainment.net) and Starz Karaoke (www.StarzKaraoke.com). We do about 600 to 700 Karaoke shows per year in bars and clubs and about 50 more private shows.
We are going to be addressing all issues Karaoke on this blog and will deal with any aspects you want to deal with. So all that said let’s touch on this topic which is Why is Piracy a problem for Karaoke?
With the development of computer technology, copying of discs was available then later ripping of songs and playing of songs from hard drives. I am an advocate of this as a trained computer engineer. There are many benefits to hosting with digital Karaoke files and that will be another blog topic up later today.
Problem is this… in addition to copying of Karaoke discs, the technology has allowed easy copying of Karaoke files and those have been put up on peer sharing technologies like RealmWorld which advertised by KaraokeInfo and has allowed people to download massive collections which they have used Ebay, Craigslist and a host of other sites to sell content they downloaded illegally with no costs at all.
We run 3 bar systems and 1 private system and since 1998 we have spent over $140,000 on Karaoke music. I can not compete with someone who obtains all their music at no cost and is using untrained hosts on home quality Karaoke systems for the price of a bar tab. That is my side of the problem.
The music industry gives little or no respect to Karaoke and Karaoke technology has never been specifically addressed in any legislation. Therefore contracts and agreements have been loosely based on the US Copyright Law and many disagreements have resulted. The record companies have not gone after small disc companies who are totally infringing on copyrights and paying nothing in artists and publisher commissions… They have gone after the larger companies that are trying to do it right and make ends meet. So all of the major companies have been getting sued and buried in legal fees and settlement fees while the worst of the infringers march on.
End result of all of this… Major companies like NuTech, Music Maestro, DK, Priddis, Legends, and Pioneer are now gone… They are out of business. Top Hits Monthly went out of business with several other companies that were putting out discs, but never did it legally. Reasons vary, but end result, they are all gone! The only remaining companies that are doing it right and paying fees in accordance with the existing system are Pop Hits Monthly (Stellar), Chartbuster, Sound Choice, Disney, All-Star (makers of most of the brands you see at Wal-Marts and other chain retailers), and Sound Choice. All of these companies have watched fees go up, legal costs sky-rocket, and sales go down as more and more of their music is being shared and copied instead of purchased. All of them have extremely questionable futures and even these companies that were once extremely successful have cut back to the bone and are still watching revenues drop to nothing.
Why is all of this a problem? Do you love to sing songs, like I do? Do you enjoy having your favorite versions of songs? Do you share my desire to do things the right way and do it legally while making sure artists are compensated? If you said yes to any of these questions, you must realize if these companies go under, where are your new Karaoke songs going to come from? What quality will they be? The cost of putting out a legal Karaoke disc with 10 to 12 tracks is somewhere in the neighborhood of $8,000 to $12,000. 15 song discs can run up to about $20,000. This is including licensing fees, sync fees, administrative documentation fees, production costs, etc. It is NOT including overhead of the company, costs of the disc production and distribution. So, if they go out of business will anyone be putting out any legal music or is the entire industry doing to go underground and be the land of computer geek, hackers and file sharers using illegal content? Meanwhile, legitimate Karaoke hosting companies are going under because they can not support paying for music, properly trained hosts and professional equipment because of extremley low cost competition by the the myriad of people doing shows with no costs in exchange for beer money.
We all need to come together and work together or the Karaoke world we love is going to go away.
Folks, I apologize for the bleak first post, but I want everyone to understand the dire situation we are in… This is all written from my personal perspective and from my opinion… Any companies mentioned are from my memory and any omissions are not intentional.
All that said; go to USKaraokeAlliance.com if you want to get involved in the effort to fix these problems before it is too late! Look forward to hearing from all of you and chatting at Mobile Beat in Las Vegas!