Karaoke is a fun activity enjoyed by people of all ages and in all types of settings. An individual who operates a karaoke machine is known as a karaoke jockey, or KJ. Many KJs are one-person businesses, though some entrepreneurs do hire multiple KJs and place them in gigs as part of their karaoke business models.
If you plan to start a karaoke business, there are numerous considerations. Working as an independent KJ can be an exciting and rewarding career, but it also requires dedication and hard work.
Develop a Business Plan
An important early step to take when you plan to start a karaoke business is writing a comprehensive business plan. A business plan is a document that clearly lays out everything you need to know about your business, such as its projected earnings, the market where it operates and how the business will be funded.
Not all karaoke businesses are the same. Some only book gigs in bars and restaurants, while others focus on private parties in homes or event venues. Determine which type of karaoke business you want to operate, and with this in mind, develop a business plan that covers all of the following:
- How your business will be structured
- How you will fund your startup costs
- Which types of karaoke gigs you will play
- The geographic range of karaoke gigs you will work
- How you will market the business
- The equipment your business will use
Register Your Karaoke Business
Registering your karaoke business is not the same as obtaining a karaoke business license. A karaoke business license is not needed. When karaoke is performed, it is the venue’s responsibility, not that of the KJ, to obtain performing rights and to avoid copyright infringement.
However, a karaoke business does need to be registered with the IRS and the state where the business is located in order for it to be taxed appropriately. When you register your business with the IRS, you are issued an employer identification number. This is the number used to look up your business, to make tax payments and purchases and to identify your business when you’re contracted for work. You must also register with your state’s secretary of state office or business agency, which can typically be done through your state’s website.
Equipment Needed for Karaoke
There is a lot of equipment needed for karaoke but not as much as a KJ needed in the past. Today, nearly all KJs store their music digitally, which means there’s no longer a need to carry around binders and binders of CDs. For any modern KJ, a laptop with substantial storage space is a karaoke must.
Other equipment needed for karaoke includes:
- A monitor
- Cords for all electronic equipment
- Song books
Some KJs also purchase ambiance-creating equipment, like colored stage lights and smoke machines. Using equipment like this during karaoke performances can make the singer feel more like she’s putting on a show and can drastically increase the entertainment value.
Connect With Karaoke Venues
Popular venues for karaoke are bars, restaurants, event venues and private parties. As a KJ, having a clear vision of your niche enables you to easily find venues that fit your brand. Some KJs carry everything from show tunes to today’s top hits, while others focus on a specific music genre, like country or classic rock. While a generalist KJ can find gigs in nearly any kind of venue, a more specialized KJ might be able to command a higher price by booking niche gigs.
You can find venues for your karaoke business online and in person. One way to connect with venues is to find them on social media and reach out via email or on the social media platforms you use. Another is to visit venues in person and leave your business card with the owners and managers.
- It's helpful to be a singer yourself if you start a karaoke business, especially if you plan to run the shows. Often, the karaoke DJ starts off the night with the first song to break the ice for everyone else to feel comfortable.
- There are two main advantages to using the digital karaoke system. You won't have to carry around the CDs, and you can purchase songs individually through download instead of having to buy a whole disc for one song.
- When you first start trying to get karaoke gigs, don't be too picky. The goal is to establish yourself in the community as a karaoke company, and then as you get more offers, you can increase your selectiveness.
Lindsay Kramer has been a full-time writer since 2014. In that time, she's experienced the ups, downs and crazy twists life tends to take when you're launching, building and leading a small business. As a small business owner, her favorite aspect about writing in this field is helping other small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs become more fluent in the terminology and concepts they face in this role. Previously, she's written on entrepreneurship for 99designs and covered business law topics for law firms.