How to Make Money Hosting Karaoke

by Tommy Best


Table of Contents



I’ve been in the entertainment field for around twenty years.. I am a singer and musician.. I’ve been involved with bands that have opened for several stars.. Such as Neil McCoy,  Black Hawk and many more.. I even toured a short time with Grand Ole Opry star Jack Greene..

  After spending five long years on the road., growing weary of hardly any rest, fast food and cheap motels. I started trying to think of a way to make decent money a little closer to my home in Apple Springs Texas. I’ve always been a singer musician and loved it very much.. After visiting a karaoke bar somewhere out west… A light bulb went off in my head.. Why can’t I do this and add my skills to make this much , much better? The host apparently knew nothing about sound, equipment or fronting a show. No real entertaining skills at all.

I’ve been hosting Karaoke for the last six years now.. Needless to say I’ve done very well! Best of all., I sleep in my own bed every night, eat good home cooking, and usually make more money than I did while I was on the road!


What you’ll need to start out with is a good karaoke cd-g player.. There are several on the market.. Most of the good one’s are expensive.. However after a few months of using these, I found a flaw in these machines.. They usually have some sort of tray that you insert your cd-g into.  Some have only one, while others might have more. The problem you’ll have is still the same.( scratching). Soon you’ll see your expensive cd-g collection slowly going down the drain.. You will notice a few skips at first and then some graphic malfunctions on your t.v screen.. There’s nothing more embarrassing than a skip in the music while an already stage frightened singer is singing to a couple hundred people.. The constant inserting and retrieving cd-g’s will eventually destroy them.. Solution: Purchase a COMPACT DISC AUTOMATIC CHANGER. It can hold 2 or 3 hundred cd-g’s.. Now you’ll need a decoder so you’ll be able to see the words on your t.v screen.. I’ve been using the LEADER CD-G DECODER.. You can find the cd changer at almost any stereo store.( Circuit City).. But you’ll have to search the internet to purchase the decoder.. Make sure your COMPACT DISC AUTOMATIC CHANGER has a optical out hook-up (little laser eye output). This sends the signal to your decoder. Your decoder will decode your cd-g format and send the words to you t.v screen.. Sounds complicated, but its really not.. It will prevent you from handling your cd-gs and preserve them.. Its virtually as though your playing a juke box! Of course, you’ll have to have a t.v. or a monitor of some kind to see your words. Make sure it has a R.C.A input to go from your karaoke machine to your t.v. or monitor. Your audio will have to go to your P.A.. You’ll need an adapter for this.

NOTE: this method is usually cheaper and more effective than a conventional karaoke player.

Karaoke CDs (CD-G's)

When I first started Karaoke these cd-g’s were hard to come by!   Hardly no selection and very expensive!  Now it seems as though you can find them anywhere and at a more reasonable price.. Still quality is usually an issue in the cost.. Some cd-g’s sound like the original band is performing with you, while others sound as though the band is on some kind of mind altering substances.. You’ll have to experiment with several different venues to decide which ones are the best..  I find that SOUND CHOICE and CHART BUSTER are pretty reliable suppliers, although I’ve even found flaws in there music.. is a good place to start. You can view what’s out there and even purchase starter kits and packs that will get your song selection  up to par in no time..( expect to drop a few hundred or so to get a collection you can make money on!) You’ll need about at least a thousand songs if you expect a club owner to hire you. Also you’ll have to supply several song books with your song catalog.. (by artist and title).

NOTE: You can purchase a CD-G burner and special program to back-up your cd-g collection at MTU.COM. ( SOUND CHOICE has some kind of block and can not be burned)


Although some establishments supply you with a P.A, Most don’t..  If they do they’ll usually try to lower your pay.. I suggest owning your on P.A. You’ll eventually be asked to do private parties and events that’ll demand you to have your own P.A.

There are a couple of different routes you can take in this.  The cheap route (which sounds cheap) or the expensive route (sounds expensive).. You can purchase a P.A box that contains your power amp.,  equalizer and a little reverb all built in one unit. I tried this method and  was unsatisfied with the overall performance.. Most of these units come with a small band built-in equalizer that is insufficient for most rooms I worked in. I found that purchasing all these elements separately gave me more control with my overall sound..

You’ll need a small six channel board. There are several different brands to choose from.. I have a PEAVEY and it works just fine. Next you’ll need a power amplifier.. I recommend at least 400 amps. Again , I recommend PEAVEY.. They're cheap, but seem to handle the job. Now you will need some kind of Equalizer .. Get something with at least 15 bands or more.. (PEAVEY IS GOOD BUT PROBABLY NOT THE BEST). Next is speakers.. Not too small, and not too big. Remember you’re the one that has to tote these jokers around! Make sure though , that you have something that’ll do the job.. Peavey, although not the best, are very durable and forgiving.. I’ve dropped them, knocked them over, drove them around in the back of my truck through rough roads and still they work!

If you really want to get ahead of your competition purchase a digital vocal effects unit. You can improve the output drastically once you’ve mastered one of these little babies.. I recommend ALESIS. They seem to be ahead of the game, when it comes to this stuff!

Microphones are very important! If it plugs into a quarter inch jack., you don’t have a microphone! Try a SHURE beta 58!  There fantastic!  Not too expensive but you’ll have to turn loose of a little cash.. A lot of professional performers still use them.

Unless your familiar with hooking up a P.A,   I recommend  you purchase most of your P.A equipment from your local music store.. That way they can instruct you on your wiring. Maybe even color code your wires until you get familiar with your basic wiring. If you are familiar., I suggest you serf the internet for the best prices you can find for the best quality merchandise.  ( I’ve bought some killer stuff from Pawn shops)

NOTE: Once you’ve learned how to wire-up your P.A., You will need to practice setting sound.. You’ll find that its an art form in itself!


Now that you’ve purchased your karaoke machine, karaoke cd-g’s, and P.A and are comfortable running sound., Its time to find some gigs!  I’ve played in small bars to big clubs. Nice eating establishments to a Bar-B-Q at Joe Bob’s. Man there’s plenty of places to play! Print up some business cards and start spreading them out just like any other business.. You’ll be surprised if you put fourth a little effort!


How much do I charge, you may ask? This depends... Consider the distance from your house to the gig. Am I going to spend 20 bucks on gas just getting there? The establishment itself., Am I at the Holliday Inn or the Motel 6? The number of nights a week you’ll be working there. Do I have to lug this equipment in and out of here for just one night or two? The occasion ,  New years parties usually pays a lot more than Saturday night at the Joe’s bar! You also have to consider your competition if you have any.. There’s usually more places to play,  than karaoke hosts.


If you already have experience as a singer and front man , this is easy!  Here’s your chance to show -off your stuff. I’ve learned through the years though, there are other things you can do to keep your show going.. Have a collection of regular music cd’s to spin when you get tired or have a lack in karaoke participation. I find that good line dance songs like The Electric Slide or Cotton Eye Joe are good fillers. As long as you keep the party going, the establishment will usually be happy with the show. Also find some good jokes or comedic activity to use during your times of dead air. Just remember to keep smiling and act like your in control at all times. Have fun with it ! It’s the easiest money you’ll ever make!

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About the Author

Tommy Best is talented country singer and musician. If you'd like to know more about karaoke or listen to some of Tommy's songs go to: .

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