SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

Document Sample
SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE Powered By Docstoc
					SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

Technology gives new life to karaoke
PCs, iPods can help singers croon in tune
Ellen Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer Monday, February 12, 2007

People who think they can sing don't need to line up for "American Idol" anymore. And if they still want to strut their stuff in front of judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, they have a number of ways to practice -- not just in the shower. [Podcast: Reporter croons tunes to test new online karaoke site; affordable GPS receivers, and more.] While the karaoke business has been around for decades, new technology is making it more widespread and accessible. Singers can turn iPods into portable karaoke machines. They can also have their performances rated by the Karaoke Revolution game on the PlayStation and Xbox game machines. Through new Web sites, they can record themselves belting out a tune -- complete with background vocals and band -- and publish it on a blog or MySpace page. And they can enter online singing contests and get discovered -- or maybe win a prize. This latest craze is being fueled by reality television shows such as "American Idol" and "You're the One That I Want," coupled with the popularity of YouTube, MySpace and other Web sites that encourage users to upload personal photos and videos. That phenomenon is spilling into the karaoke business. "Between 'American Idol' and this new culture of people not being shy to share something about themselves, singing is just another extension of that," said Ranah Edelin, CEO and co-founder of San Francisco's SingShot Media, a site that offers karaoke tracks members can sing along to, record and publish for the rest of the online world to hear. Karaoke originated in Japan and became popular in bars and nightclubs before moving into the home. In the United States, it remains a niche industry, generating about $110 million in revenue in 2005, according to the National Association of Music Merchants, a nonprofit organization representing the musical instruments and products industry. South Bay attorneys Nora Rousso and Jonathan Jackel and their 10-year-old daughter, Eden Jackel, have performed karaoke at home for years and regularly trot out their

karaoke system for parties. They have also downloaded software that turns their computer into a karaoke machine. Rousso, who first put her mouth up to a microphone almost 20 years ago at a bar, has watched as the equipment and music have become cheaper and more widely available. "In the space of just a few years, the technology has become so accessible that any schmoe can do karaoke now," she said. "It's no big deal." 'American Idol' wannabe The couple's daughter, who started out on a pink Barbie karaoke machine, belting out Disney tunes, has moved on to show tunes and songs from the Disney movie "High School Musical." "Her goal is to be on 'American Idol 2016,' " Rousso said. She could have her shot even before then. On the SingShot Web site, at www.singshot.com, which started last summer, singers can croon to about 3,500 songs, from Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This" to the Beatles' "Yesterday." If they have a microphone on their computer, singers can record their rendition, which is mixed in with the background music. They can then post the track on the SingShot Web site, invite others to rate it, publish it on their blog or MySpace page, and use it to score a video or photo slideshow. They can also enter it into any number of contests. "We supply the music and lyrics and you supply your voice," said Edelin, a former executive at online music service Rhapsody. Kevin Vander Vliet started the company DoPi Karaoke in Southern California after listening to his iPod and wishing he knew the lyrics so he could sing along. At www.dopikaraoke.com, users can buy and download a file for $1.99 that includes music and lyrics. The file can be transferred onto any portable device that displays video, such as a video iPod or a PlayStation Portable. Like a regular karaoke machine, the screen displays the lyrics line by line so the singer can follow along. DoPi Karaoke also makes a $59.99 karaoke system, which comes with a microphone and cables to plug into the system's speaker. The iPod docks into the machine, enabling users to access songs and lyrics from the iPod and hear themselves sing along through the speakers. "An entire generation of kids has not experienced karaoke as something cool," said

Vander Vliet. "Every time I see that line for people trying out for 'American Idol,' I'm looking at that market. I wish I could be there." Griffin Technology, a Nashville company that makes iPod accessories such as an FM transmitter, introduced the iKaraoke for $49.99 last fall. The iKaraoke is a small microphone that connects to an iPod. It can soften the lead vocals and pump up the background beat so people can sing along to any song on the iPod. No shortage of music Singers can hear themselves and the music if they use an FM transmitter or cables to send the audio to speakers. "It allows you to use it with the music on your iPod," said Cameron Boone, iKaraoke product manager. "You don't have to go and buy new tracks." Another karaoke machine is the Magic Sing microphone developed by Korean technology company Enter-Tech that contains a chip that stores thousands of songs. Lyrics can be displayed on a television screen simply by plugging the portable microphone into the set. "This is one of the most popular items we've been selling for the last four to five years," said David Su, founder of Ace Karaoke, a karaoke retailer and manufacturer in Southern California. Then there's Andy Schroeder, a 29-year-old in San Francisco, who just tunes into a Comcast on-demand karaoke channel whenever he and his friends feel the urge to sing. Available to premium subscribers, the channel includes about 200 songs -- about 15 hours of karaoke. "I have a little group of (songs) I will choose from," Schroeder said. "My No. 1 is 'Sister Christian' by Night Ranger." Dana Jo Rhodes, a 41-year-old mother of two in Livermore, is known as Gabooba on SingShot. She's recorded some 200 songs, although only about 40 have been published under her profile, including America's "Ventura Highway" and Fleetwood Mac's "Little Lies." She has a following of 40 fans, has been heard 1,500 times and even won $350 in an online singing contest. "I can be a rock star in my bedroom. I can do it in my pajamas," she said. One day, she predicted, "Someone is going to get plucked off of one of these sites and get a record deal." http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/02/12/BUGG3O18CP1.DTL This article appeared on page C - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle


				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:56
posted:11/15/2009
language:English
pages:3