I received my latest copy of a trade magazine for mobile disk
jockeys that also offers some articles on karaoke. I opened it
immediately to the karaoke section and began reading an article on
how to train new hosts. It began by giving the host a set of 10
tickets and information on each of the singers (good singer, average
singer, bad singer) and he asked the host to balance the 10 tickets
for the first set, based on the type of singer and type of song selected.
other words, this article suggested that you sing based on your
abilities and song selection, not in the order as tickets were turned
into the host.
would love to be able to program the night's songs based on who was
singing them and whether they were upbeat or slow, to create a mood,
like I do when I disk jockey for a wedding reception or other types
of parties. Then, great groupings of songs like "Paradise By The
Dashboard Lights" by T and Rick followed by "Mony,
Mony" by Jeff wouldn't happen by accident, it would happen
because I planned
it that way. I could even follow it with a rousing rendition of
"Strokin'" or "Delilah." I could group two or
three ballads together and then bring it up with "Nickajack"
and "I'm Alright" and run a short, upbeat country set.
But in Lincoln,
Nebraska, running a show this way is not the norm. Generally, singers
are placed into what we in the biz call "rotation" by when
they put in their ticket. No choice is made by the host on whether
the singer is good, bad or whatever. No choice is made by the host as
to whether you selected to sing a ballad, a rocker or a country song.
Most of us have found that this is the fair and equitable way to line
up the singers for the night. The host then leaves it up to the
singers to give careful consideration to their selection of songs to
create the mood for the evening. We've all been to shows where
everyone seems to be singing ballads. It seems most prevalent in the
earlier hours of the evening. I believe a lot of singers like to use
ballads to "warm up" their voices and to hold the power
songs for later in the evening when they can "rock the house."
We at the Karaoke
Kraze have devised a system whereby we try to make the
"rotation" as fair as humanly possible. Many factors come
into play when creating that "perfect balance." Group
singers, soloists and duets are all considerations. New singers
coming in later in the evening, while in mid-rotation are also a
factor. First and foremost, is to run the rotation with new singers
until you run out of tickets. After that, begin again. On a sheet of
paper, we write down the names of the singers in the order tickets
were received. The next "rotation" is started over with the
same singers in the same order, no matter when the tickets were
received. By referring to the list, we can accomplish this feat. To
further complicate things, we have added with our games, Kamikaze
tickets. Ordinarily, we try to put these in at the end of a set or
"rotation" before we begin again.
Now, suppose we've
begun the second rotation of the evening and X comes in and adds his
ticket to the rotation. In an attempt to get new singers into the
rotation, we will place X's new ticket in, mid-rotation, probably 3-5
singers down from where ever we are now in the rotation. However, his
name is added to the bottom of the reference list, and his second
song will be placed in that spot in the rotation. It makes him wait a
little longer for his second song, but gives him a chance to get up
and sing soon after his arrival. This is done to help hook X into
staying and so he doesn't have to wait an hour or more to sing his
first song. I've not found many singers that would argue with this
approach, and most seem to understand this and appreciate it when
this service is offered to them.
let's talk about the items that really mess with the evenings fun:
It is every host's dream and nightmare to have a house packed with
singers. The more people in the bar, the more money the bar makes,
which makes it worth their while to continue having entertainment
like karaoke in their establishments. But, when there are a lot of
singers, the rotation gets long. A singer list of 15 or more singers
will take an hour or more to complete. To give you an example,
Halloween night at Gateway Bowl, the very first rotation was 24
singers long. That means it took probably 1 ½ to 2 hours to get
everyone up to sing, just once!
A, B, C & D have songs in under their names to sing. We call A up
to sing and guess what - B, C & D come up to sing with him. We,
the hosts, have no idea this is going to occur. Later on, it becomes
B's turn to sing, but...he already sang with A when it was his turn.
Is it fair to penalize him for helping out his buddy on his song?
Well, we say no, so we call B up to sing. Maybe this time, B sings a
solo. A few singers later, C is called up and A & B come up to
sing with him. Uh Oh! A & B just got to sing 3 times in the first
rotation. Now, as hosts, we understand that you guys are having a
good time, and if the rest of the audience is paying attention, they
realize that it was really C's turn to sing, and his buddies came up
to help, and he allowed that. To someone new in the audience, we'll
call him X this seems really unfair, since he has so far only sang
once to A & B's three songs.
We try to assign duets to one of the singer's slots in the rotation,
usually the one that puts in the ticket. We feel this is fair, and
that the other person singing the duet should not lose their solo,
because their friend asked them to sing a duet with them. Many hosts
feel that a duet should take both singers turn in the rotation, and
perhaps we should look at changing our policy. But, so far, handling
duets in this manner has worked for the Karaoke Kraze.
These are also difficult, especially when you have a group of friends
sitting at a table and 4 of them want to sing this song and 3 of them
(usually 3 from the group of 4) want to sing a different song and yet
again, another 4 (with one or two from the first or second group want
to be included in the third group) WHEW! Are you confused yet?
Typically, as soon as we figure out that several different people at
the same table or group, are going to be singing together all night,
they get one song per rotation. Otherwise, they'd be singing all
night, and no one else would ever get a chance. I think we've been
pretty good at catching these early in the evening and handling them
appropriately. If you've ever been to Davey, The Round Table Singers
is a prime example of a group with a variety of people from the same
group getting up to sing. If we get a complaint concerning a group
song, we handle them on an individual basis, and can usually clear up
the situation promptly. Here's a perfect example: Gateway Bowl,
Lori's going away party. Lori was filling out tickets for all of her
friends - I know this because the handwriting was the same on all the
tickets and Lori's name was on all of them. This being the case, we
put one ticket in per rotation. One of Lori's friends, Mike wanted to
know what happened to his song, "Hotel California." When we
explained to him, that we didn't know any better than to put that
song in the rotation where we would put Lori, he explained that it
was his song, he just let Lori fill out the ticket, & he never
meant for her name to be on it with him. We apologized & told him
we would get his song in immediately. He was called within the next 2
songs to sing.
The easiest possible ticket to handle. This one goes into the
rotation as soon as it is received and is placed in the same spot the
rest of the night. The only problem with soloists is when they decide
to sing a duet or sing with a group. See groups and duets above.
I made this title up, because I don't know how else to describe it. A
new singer asks an accomplished friend to help them with their song.
This is more moral support and guidance for the new singer. Many
times the accomplished singer stands next to the new singer and
barely uses their microphone at all. They are there, just in case the
new singer gets lost and needs a little help through the song. I
don't like to deter this event, because that new singer, hopefully,
will gain the confidence he needs to sing solo later. I don't believe
the "supportive friend" should be penalized from singing
their song, due to his ability to help out his friend into finding
out the joys of singing karaoke.
The correct usage of a kamikaze is simple - you want someone other
than yourself to try a song they've never done before, either because
you think it would be funny or because you think they'd be great at
it. You put in the ticket with payment of $1 to hear this song done
by this person. Another reason, is to coax someone who perhaps is too
shy to put in a ticket on their own, to get up and sing. Anyone asked
to sing a kamikaze may either sing the song, or pay $5 to not sing
the song. The high price to get out of the song is a little incentive
to go ahead with it.