Whether you go to a karaoke bar to perform in front of others or a karaoke box where you're just with your friends or even at home when you pop out the old karaoke machine and sing during a slumber party or a birthday party, this form of entertainment is quite popular around the world.
People enjoy karaoke nights with family and colleagues because for some people it's an opportunity to show some hidden talents and for others, it's a time to have fun and enjoy yourself with friends, family, or strangers as you all sing along to your favorite songs and music.
Although many enjoy singing along to their favorite artists and becoming singers for the night, very few actually know its meaning, where it comes from, and who invented it, which is why in this article you'll find the answers to all those questions.
To learn more about karaoke, you can also check out one of our articles on the History of Karaoke.
Originally, the word karaoke comes from Japanese; kara means empty and ōke is short for ōkesutora which means orchestra. But it's not like someone came up with these terms (empty orchestra) in English and then figured to translate it to Japanese.
Karaoke was actually invented in Japan by a Japanese musician called Daisuke Inoue in 1971, therefore the word is originally from Japan.
During the decade of the 1970s karaoke spread all over the Asian country thanks to the invention of Inoue, who created these machines when he saw a business opportunity for his music when people asked for him to record his tracks for them to listen and sing with him at home or on work trips.
He created the karaoke machines with his tracks on them and then started to rent them out to anyone that would like to sing along with him. At first, the business idea didn't sit well with the Japanese culture, people saw the machines as too expensive and use the money for other things rather than waste it on what seemed to be a game.
But with time, Inoue's idea had a small edit and it started to appeal to restaurants and hotel rooms, and with this new market, the karaoke boxes emerged.
Daisuke Inoue was awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. They gave him the award for inventing karaoke under the idea that it created "a new way for people to learn to tolerate each other".
It is fun to think that this machine that is now known worldwide started in the small islands of Japan and shows that no matter where you come from you can always change the world!
You can continue reading about the subject and the origins of karaoke.
There was another invention, similar to the karaoke machine of the Japanese musician created by Filipino inventor, Roberto del Rosario.
This new invention was called "Minus-One" and it was a sing-along system that del Rosario created in 1975 and patented in the 1980s. Del Rosario was quick to realize that his invention had a huge potential so he didn't waste time and got his patent right away, something that Inoue didn't bother to do.
The "Minus-One" sing-along system quickly spread and became popular all around the Philippines. Part of its success was because it was a portable machine and the Filipinos liked to take the machine and the fun with them on trips. Soon, the "Minus-One" game started to spread all over Asia.
Del Rosario fought many battles in court but his quick action to have been the first to create the patent was of huge help and the lawsuits always ended up awarded in his favor.
As people enjoy singing so much there was no doubt that introducing this form of entertainment to the rest of the world would be a success. After karaoke spread all over Asia, there was an entire market for it to continue to expand, and it was in each Western country.
By the 1990s each English-speaking country had been introduced to karaoke rooms or bars. People like to pick up the microphone and start singing their favorite songs while reading the lyrics on a video on a screen.
But soon the novelty of this new sort of game passed and the general public started to lose interest, especially in the US and Canada. So, for businesses to continue afloat, they had to reinvent and innovate the karaoke machine.
They adapted karaoke into theater systems and started selling machines that included all types of technology (video, music, radio, etc). Each person could have these entertainment units at home that happen to include karaoke as a mere feature of the entire thing.
But, not to worry, there was another market that took notice of the karaoke machines, and these were the owners of nightclubs and bars. They created rooms inside the bar and in each room, they would put the machine for everyone to enjoy privately of the songs. Others just added a TV, a video with lyrics on the screen, and a microphone for anyone in the room.
Today, karaoke boxes, bars, and nights are very popular around the world, and each person can have some fun and become a singer for one night by singing to their favorite song.
You can also learn about the places in the world where karaoke is popular.
We hope that these karaoke fun facts will come in handy the next time you're out with family, coworkers, or singers in a karaoke box or bar.
Learning about the history of karaoke is interesting and also it teaches us a couple of valuable lessons. First, if you ever come up with something or invent something, be sure to patent it, or else someone else can take a lot of money from you as del Rosario did with Inoue.
Second, that there is always room for technology innovation, and if you think that something is obsolete maybe you can innovate and look for a new perspective. Always think that karaoke machines were obsolete in the US and Canada until they innovated them and created home theater systems.
Remember, karaoke does not define Japanese culture, it is merely a fun part of their history but nothing more than two terms brought together to name a cool invention.
If you want to know about the benefits of singing karaoke you can check out our article about the Benefits of Karaoke.