Where Does the Music Come From?

Karaoke recordings are made by using studio musicians to recreate the sound of an original
recording, but without the vocal track. There are 3 main sources of karaoke music today.

Most karaoke music comes from one of several large karaoke providers who have purchased the rights to karaoke recordings made by a wide variety of companies over the last 50 years or so. Many of the original companies went out of business, or stopped making karaoke recordings, and their music was then licensed to one of several large karaoke dealers. When a KJ wants to use one of their recordings, they have to pay a royalty fee for the use of the recording. As part of the KJ's license agreement, they have access to around 80,000 karaoke recordings.

Karafun is a company providing karaoke recordings which they have made themselves. The Karafun library has about 60,000 recording in it. The major difference is through Karafun, a KJ gets access to the entire Karafun catalog by paying a monthly fee, instead of having to pay individual royalties for each song. Because Karafun creates their own versions of the songs, you may notice some differences between a Karafun recording and the same song offered by Sound Choice, Legends, Party Time, Sweet Georgia Brown, Zoom, etc. If you look at the KJ column in the Venue Lists, you will note that sometimes there is "K" above the KJ number. This is to indicate the venue uses Karafun.

The third source for karaoke music that you may find is Youtube. Youtube has thousands of karaoke recordings available and you can play them on your computer to practice for your night out. However, Youtube videos are not legal to use in a commercial establishment, and a KJ caught using Youtube videos may find themselves in serious legal trouble over copyright infringement, which does carry substantial monetary penalties.

It should be noted that legally licensed karaoke music has restrictions on copying the music. This has not prevented some people from making illegal copies of the music, and some KJ's might be using illegal copies in commercial establishments. Once again, doing this risks being subject to substantial penalties if prosecuted. The penalties can easily reach many thousands of dollars, and the venue that allows a KJ to use unlicensed music is also liable to be prosecuted as well.

Please remember that the original artists who created the songs you enjoy, are entitled to a royalty on their work. That royalty applies to anyone who performs their music, whether it is a cover band, a tribute band, or a karaoke singer. Any time their song is performed, copyright laws require the writer and composer get a royalty. If you patronize a venue or KJ who fails to pay the proper royalties, you are helping them rip off that original artist. Karaoke is supposed to be fun. Don't make it a crime.