After disappearing during the darkest days of the pandemic, karaoke is coming back strong! The live singing activity provides great entertainment at restaurants, bars, clubs, special events, and even within people’s homes. So if you’re outgoing and love to sing, starting a karaoke business may be the right fit. You could bring smiles to people’s faces while making good money.
Of course, to be successful, you’ll need to get the basics right from the start. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place, as this step-by-step guide lays out all you need to know to develop and launch your karaoke business and turn it into a flourishing enterprise.
Step 1: Decide if the Business is Right for You
Demand is always strong, so karaoke is a great business idea. But will it work for you? To answer this, you’ll want to focus on the nuts and bolts of the business.
Pros and cons
Whether you’re starting a karaoke company as a side hustle or a full-time occupation, there are several pros and cons to consider.
- Low startup costs
- No need for an office
- Simple business model
- Strong word-of-mouth referrals
- High customer retention rate
- High overhead
- Work can be inconsistent
- Damaged equipment can be expensive to repair
Karaoke industry trends
After a sharp pandemic-driven downturn in 2020, market analyst IBISWorld expects increased consumer spending to return the US karaoke industry almost all the way back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021.
Hope is growing that the sector will recover as the economy starts to open up and bars and clubs gear up to bring customers back, while more and more people welcome big groups of friends and loved ones into their homes again.
Industry size and growth
Trends and challenges
Trends shaping the karaoke industry include:
- Adoption of contactless solutions such as customers requesting songs through their mobile devices
- Rise of low-alcohol drinks
- Outdoor karaoke as a precaution against infectious diseases
Challenges in the karaoke industry include:
- High cost of karaoke systems
- Rise of virtual musical activities
How much does it cost to start a karaoke business?
Starting a karaoke business can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $40,000, with an average of about $22,000.
The core of any karaoke service is equipment. Creating a delightful karaoke experience can be difficult without the right equipment. You’ll likely need the following equipment to get your karaoke business off the ground:
- Music player
- Wireless microphones
- Monitor with stand
- Sound mixer amplifiers
- Speakers and sound system
- Cases for all equipment
- Music library/songs playlist
- Tool kit and duct tape
Other than commercial space, most costs go toward buying equipment and marketing, as broken down below:
|Start-up Costs||Ballpark Range||Average
|Company incorporation, licenses, and permits||$300 - $2,500||$1,400
|Insurance||$250 - $950||$600
|Employee and employee-related expenses||$200 - $1,500||$850
|Software||$200 - $2,800||$1,500
|Promotion, advertising, and marketing||$500 - $5,000||$2,750
|Karaoke equipment||$2,000 - $5,000||$3,500
|Website||$250 - $1,250||$750
|Bar renovation, furniture, decor, crockery, and utensils||$0 - $12,500||$6,250
|Vehicle||$0 - $7,500||$3,750
|Miscellaneous||$300 - $1,000||$650
|Total||$4,000 - $40,000||$22,000
How much can you earn from a karaoke business?
The amount of money you can generate with a karaoke entertainment business depends on the type of karaoke business you’re operating, target customers, products, and services. According to IBISWorld, there are 1,540 registered karaoke bars in the United States, generating $1 billion in annual revenue, which translates to $650,000 per business.
Standard karaoke bar
If you open a standard karaoke bar, you might be able to make half the industry’s annual average revenue in your first year of operation. Assuming the industry average 25% profit margin, you’d make more than $80,000 in profit. If you can reach the industry average of $650,000 in your second year, you’d take in a tidy profit of more than $160,000. You could open a few more branches by your third year and reach $2 million in revenue and half a million dollars in profit.
If you decide, on the other hand, to start out as a mobile karaoke business, you would rent out your services to bars, clubs, parties, and special events, and have a much higher profit margin of about 60%. The average cost of a one-day, high-end karaoke machine rental, with amplifiers and special equipment, is about $200.
In your first year, with two machines, you might do 10 rentals per week, giving you $100,000 in annual revenue and more than $60,000 in profit. In your second year, you could add two more machines and rentals could double to 20 per week. You’d have to hire staff and buy the additional machines, reducing your profit margin to 40%. With annual revenue of nearly $210,000, you’d have a tidy profit of more than $80,000.
By your third year, you could expand your coverage, hire more people, and add 6 more machines, further increasing your rentals to 50 per week but decreasing your margin to 20%. With annual revenue of $520,000, you’d take in more than $100,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
The karaoke entertainment business has moderate barriers to entry. The main obstacles include:
- High operating expenses, especially in major metropolitan areas
- Frequent shutdowns due to lingering pandemic
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
You now have a bird’s eye overview of the karaoke industry and have decided to pursue the business. The next step is about positioning your company to succeed. You can do this by answering the following questions:
Why? Identify the opportunity
The success of your karaoke business depends on your ability to explore and analyze opportunities and fill gaps your competitors fail to identify. Your quest to make inroads could begin by introducing your services to bars and clubs that don’t offer karaoke.
You might also stand out by offering innovative karaoke ideas, such as:
- Themed nights to appeal to hardcore karaoke fans
- Karaoke competitions to bring in new customers
- Karaoke games such as “Guess This Song in Three Words”
- Deals such as 1 free karaoke song with your first drink purchase
What? Determine your products or services
Karaoke is a highly competitive business, so you’ll need to decide early which services your company will offer. That way, you can narrow down your target audience and stand out from other karaoke hosts in your area.
You might also consider:
- VIP karaoke rooms: A group of friends or colleagues rents out a small room to sing and drink in private
- Backup vocalist: You could offer to sing as backup vocalist at a karaoke party or event
How much should you charge?
Your fee will depend on the services you provide, the quality of equipment, and your overhead. Unless you offer private rooms, karaoke is usually free at karaoke bars, so in that case you will earn money from drinks and food.
If a bar owner hires you to provide karaoke services, the standard rate is between $50 and $90 per hour. Most karaoke sessions last from about four hours, so you can charge $200 to $360 per session per night. For mobile services, prices will vary depending on the type of event, location, skill level, booking lengths, but with high-end equipment you should average about $200 per one-day rental.
It’s important to consider your audience, overhead, and competitor pricing to determine the best prices for your karaoke business. Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Identifying your target market allows you to customize your product and services to your client’s needs, which leads to greater customer satisfaction. It also enables you to choose the proper marketing channels, use your resources more effectively, and maximize your profits.
The target market for a karaoke service includes:
- Revelers in bars and nightclubs
- Entertainment spots such as cruise liners and ski resorts
- Private parties
Where? Choose your business premises
Choosing a business location is a crucial step to the success of your karaoke company. Ideally, you’ll want to locate your karaoke business in an area with many bars and nightclubs. If there aren’t many karaoke bars in your area, you need to find out why. Is it because people aren’t karaoke fans? Or is it because would-be investors can’t see the opportunity?
You can find commercial space to rent in your area on Craigslist, Crexi, and Commercial Cafe. When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “karaoke” or “singing”, boosts SEO
- Choose a name that allows for expansion: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step business name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
- Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
- Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
- Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to karaoke.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your karaoke business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
- General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
- C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
- S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans: This is the most common method, but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
- Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Venture capital: Offer potential investors an ownership stake in exchange for funds, keeping in mind that you would be sacrificing some control over your business.
- Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a karaoke business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits
Starting a karaoke business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.
If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your karaoke business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
You could use karaoke apps, such as Singa, KaraFun Player, and Karaoke Builder Player to build massive playlists and add animated backgrounds to songs, while software like Boomset and Whova can help manage your events.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Some of your business will come from the casual passerby or online visitors, but still you should invest in marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Rent Now”. This can sharply increase sales.
- Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as your first rental is 30% off.
- Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your store and website.
- Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events.
- In-Person Sales – Offer your products/services at local markets, trade shows.
- Post a video – Post a video about your ___. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
- Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients.
- Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
- Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your ___ meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your karaoke business could be:
- Your voice will sound better in our top-of-the-line karaoke equipment
- No entrance fee, and free karaoke!
- High-end, private karaoke rooms for VIPs
- Get half-price drinks/rentals with our loyalty program
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a karaoke business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in karaoke bars for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in karaoke. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a karaoke business would include:
- Servers — to take care of bar/club customers
- Maintenance — to service and maintain your karaoke machines
- General Manager — to oversee operations, hiring, scheduling
- Marking Lead — SEO strategy, social media marketing
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start Making Money!
You’re now ready to embark on your entrepreneurial journey and turn your karaoke system into a profit-making machine. If you’re looking to open a karaoke bar, location is extremely important. You should operate in an area with high foot traffic or near restaurants and entertainment establishments. If you’re going mobile, having durable equipment is crucial.
Either way, it’s important to offer the latest technology in the karaoke business, such as the use of mobile phones in choosing the songs or ordering food and drinks. You should have the latest songs too. Now, you’re ready to start making mad karaoke money! Good luck!
Karaoke Business FAQs
How do I become a karaoke DJ?
You can make a good karaoke DJ if you’re a music enthusiast and can sing. Buy the necessary karaoke equipment, get your playlist ready, marketing your services, and you’re good to go.
How much should I charge for karaoke services?
Your fee may vary depending on factors such as your experience, playlist, location, equipment, and popularity. With these skills, you can generate between $50 and $400 per hour.
How much do karaoke hosts make?
The gross income for a karaoke host is $18,000 to $43,000 per year, according to Glassdoor. Even so, you can expect to generate $50,000 to $150,000 per year as a self-employed karaoke host.
How do you make a successful karaoke bar?
Some of the factors that can determine the success of your karaoke bar include the general ambiance of your space. Your bar should be clean, inviting, and comfortable. On top of that, you need to pay your staff well to keep them motivated.
How do you create a karaoke room?
While a karaoke room doesn’t have to be fancy, be sure to install state-of-the-art equipment, including a display screen, a mixer, a karaoke system, and enough four microphones to provide an excellent experience.