NEW YORK CITY -- The fourth week in April is National Karaoke Week. And this little known fête, and karaoke in general, could get a lot bigger thanks to TouchTunes Interactive Networks.
The digital jukebox company kicked off the weeklong celebration this week at the Overlook Lounge in Manhattan. Taking part in the scene on Tuesday, April 24, were local karaoke fans, TouchTunes' New York-based staff and sportscaster Erin Andrews, along with several jukebox operators who came to see the new bar attraction in action. The singing (some not so good) began in the early evening and continued into the early morning. | MORE PHOTOS
TouchTunes Karaoke is a new service that runs on Virtuo's OpenStage platform. TouchTunes began shipping the application and related accessories in March. When in karaoke mode, Virtuo's skin turns magenta; blue designates standard jukebox music mode. | SEE STORY
The digital music company says it has the first fully licensed karaoke service. So far, it has acquired rights to more than 12,000 songs for the service, including some from the Beatles catalog.
TouchTunes Karaoke leverages existing Virtuo jukeboxes, broadband connections, TV screens and audio systems -- eliminating the need for cumbersome equipment. The add-on package includes two microphones and a receiver box that connects the Virtuo with a television -- these are wireless components. It also includes a universal remote that can be used by location personnel to control both jukebox and karaoke functions.
Locations schedule their own karaoke sessions online. Locations pay a nominal fee to run an event and participants pay for their songs, as if making a music selection.
TouchTunes says its technology adds several enhancements to the karaoke experience. Users can search the TouchTunes Karaoke catalog or browse the curated songbooks, with favorites categorized by theme. They can change the key of a song, too. Features include karaoke games, applauding favorite performers, and compatibility with TouchTunes' mobile apps and loyalty programs. The universal remote allows location management to adjust music volume and mic levels. Most importantly, the program's queue manager is designed to maintain a balanced rotation of performers.
In the recent past, karaoke nights would make jukeboxes go silent, TouchTunes noted; but now jukeboxes can host these events and make money doing it.
photo | KNEES-UP: Sports journalist Erin Andrews applies her microphone skill to karaoke with backup from songman Pete Giambolvo at the Overlook Lounge in midtown Manhattan. The ESPN broadcaster and Good Morning America correspondent was a special guest at a TouchTunes Karaoke profile party on April 24.