Harryoke Entertainment Show Rules - Harryoke Karaoke Host and Event DJ

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HARRYOKE! Central Florida Karaoke Host
and Event DJ
Karaoke Show Policies



The link above will give you an explanation of what karaoke is, and a brief history of karaoke, and it's introduction to our culture.



DO NOT READ THIS SECTION!!    (Unless you are interested in maximizing your karaoke experience)

PRIVATE PARTIES  vs PUBLIC SHOWS: If you are at a public show, these are my rules and guidelines that I generally enforce.  If you are at a private party, the person throwing the party and paying me is the boss, and makes the rules. At private parties you MAY find the rotationrules relaxed heavily based on the wishes of the host and not find strict rotations, etc…  Rules regarding SAFETY apply in either venue.     

HOW DO I SIGN UP TO SING?    Find a song to sing by looking through the songbooks, generally located in the stage area.  Songbooks are marked on the cover as to whether they are BY ARTIST or BY TITLE.  Song lists are also located at my website online (harryoke.com) if you would like to pick your songs at home before the show, or using your wireless device at the show.   I have largely gotten away from using sign up slips.  It is easier for you to check in with me and give me your name, and let me know what you want to sing for your first song.  Pick a song and you will be placed in the singer “rotation”.

Sign up for one song at a time…SING ONE then BRING ONE.
 When you come up to sing, after your performance you will be kept in the same order in the rotation.  You can let the host know what song you intend to do either after your first song, or later during the rotation.  Multiple requests at one time for various songs are generally not accepted.   

If you are a “regular customer” and I know that you are there to sing, I will add you to the list as soon as I see you, and keep you in the rotation until you either leave or tell me you no longer wish to sing.  IF YOU ARE AFFORDED THIS COURTESY, please return the favor by, minimally, knowing what song you are going to sing BEFORE coming to the stage…the stage is not the place to be thinking about what song you want to sing!!  Nothing frustrates singers waiting, and the host, as much as someone who has waited an hour or more to sing and given no thought to their song until their name is called…bringing the show to a halt.

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO WAIT/WHEN AM I UP?    THE HARDEST PART OF SINGING KARAOKE IS WAITING YOUR TURN!!  Singers are placed into a rotation that ensures, in a perfect world, nobody waits any longer than anyone else to sing.  The number of singers in the rotation determines the length of your wait, as well as the method used to handle new singers.  If there are not many singers, you will probably get to sing more often, without a long wait.  The more singers there are, the longer your wait and the less you will be able to sing.  A good rule of thumb is 4 minutes per singer.

 Your host is a professional who is quite adept at managing a fair rotation.  There are militaristic concrete ways to run a rotation that are “fair” on paper, but in reality, with a large crowd, are not conducive to fairness or good business.  I ask that you trust my judgment, based on years of experience, and an assessment of the crowd I am working with at the time.  I keep everything in writing, in ink, and if you have a question about the rotation, I am more than happy to explain it to you.  Asking to be bumped ahead will not work because it is not fair to the singers who have been waiting for their turn.  I will NEVER intentionally allow anyone to sing out of order without good reason, and occasionally there IS a good reason. Bribes are not a good reason!  I will not play favorites or accept bribes to advance anyone in the rotation, so please do not insult me by asking. Keeping it fair for everyone keeps it fair for you as well!!  Please do not ask to be advanced because you have to leave.  My show is geared to cater to those who stay and patronize the venues.  While I appreciate your patronage while you are there, I cannot show preference to those who are leaving OVER those who are choosing to stay.  Years of experience has also taught me that those who ask to sing sooner because they are leaving, generally never leave.

HOW ARE DUETS HANDLED?  Duets count as the turn of one person.  For example; if John and Mary are at the show, John gets a turn, and Mary gets a turn.  If John and Mary want to sing together, it either has to count as John’s turn, or Mary’s turn.  If John and Mary want to sing duets every time, they are allowed.  Some hosts do not agree with this policy, and it DOES get confusing to singers who think they are seeing people getting 2 turns, but it is the fairest way to handle it, UNLESS it is an abused policy.  Abuse of the policy would be if a dominant singer signs up for duets and LEADS the song each time, in an effort to increase stage time.  This will not be tolerated, and when an abuser is identified, the host will handle the situation.  I will not penalize a singer in the rotation for being asked to join another for a duet.  THAT is fair.
WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE MYSELF SOUND BETTER ONCE IT IS MY TURN?  While you sing, the host will be controlling your sound to make you sound as good as possible, but there are things you can do to help:

1.  Use as much voice as possible-don’t whisper!  If your voice is too quiet it is very difficult to get the level higher than the music without feedback.  Listen to yourself from the speakers…if you cannot hear yourself –sing louder!  If you are so loud that you sound like you are singing thru waxed paper (over modulated), back the mic away from your mouth a tad! If I see lots of red lights when you are singing, I will be turning you down anyway, so preserve your voice if you find yourself straining!  I have a meter on the mixer that shows me if you are using your voice or not.   It is difficult to amplify a whisper effectively.  I have a meter on my mixer that shows me how loud a singer is singing.  If the singer is whispering and giving me only up to 3 bars on the meter, I can only make it so loud.  My mics are made by Shure, not Hoover, so I cannot suck the sound out of someone like a vacuum cleaner, HAHA.  If you are a timid or quiet singer, try to PROJECT!!

2.      Unless you are an extremely loud singer, keep the microphone as close to your mouth as you can without marrying it!  THE MICROPHONE SHOULD NEVER TOUCH YOUR MOUTH.  You don’t want to be sucking and slobbering all over it, but about a thumbs width from your mouth is adequate, unless you know you are loud.

3.      Sing into the top of the mic, not the side.  When the host is controlling your sound and determines you are not loud enough, he will turn up your mic or make it “hotter”.  Don’t keep pulling the mic farther from your mouth.  If you have the mic at your hips, don’t ask why you couldn’t hear yourself!

4.      NEVER “cup” the mic (by wrapping your hands around the top of the mic “rapper” style).  NEVER COVER OR BLOCK THE SILVER HEAD OF THE MIC!  All this accomplishes is warming your sound to make you sound like you are singing from a well or over a CB Radio.  It makes you and my equipment sound bad!  This will also likely cause feedback in loud or close environments.  (Like putting your thumb over the end of a hose to make the water have more pressure…)  If I am present, I can adjust the sound, but you wont be as happy with the result as you would by just using good technique.

5.      Never take a “hot” mic in front of the speakers, or aim to the ground, or cover the element (silver part).  This will cause howling feedback through the speakers.

6.      NO MIC DROPS NO MIC DROPS NO MIC DROPS!!  While this has become a social trend due to repeated mic drops on TV commercials, shows and music videos, the reality is that NO ONE WHO HAS EVER INTENTIONALLY DROPPED A MIC HAS EVER HAD TO BUY A MICROPHONE!  If you intentionally drop my microphone, and damage it, you will likely be held responsible for the damages (paying for repair or replacement).  Avoid dropping the mics!!  Don’t bang the mics or use them for drumsticks!  DO NOT TOSS THE WIRELESS IN THE AIR LIKE A BATON!  Believe it or not, people do!  Mics have fragile components that break on impact, rendering a microphone useless.  Wired microphones cost $100 apiece, $400 or more for the cordless.  If you happen to be using a wired mic for some reason (what is this, 1995?) NEVER SWING the mic by the cable like Roger Daltrey.  His mics are heavily prepared with gaffing tape for safety, mine will fly like projectiles and kill someone, or break, or ruin the cable.

7.      HOW TO USE THE MIC STAND WITH WIRELESS MIC:  DO NOT TRY TO SLIDE THE MIC…the clip is designed NOT to slide.  Snap the mic in the clip to install to the clip, and pull the mic out by lifting it out of the clip.  The fat center part of the mic should be in the clip NOT the skinny end of the mic.  This will result in the mic falling off the stand if the stand is moved…be sure to snap the CENTER of the mic into the clip, especially if you are moving the stand during your performance!!

1. CLAP CLAP CLAP!!!!  Show support by applauding every performance.  Booing is NOT acceptable.

2.  Don’t come up to “help” a singer or sing with a singer unless you are implicitly asked by the singer to do so.  Some people have a hard time keeping in key if someone is singing with them.

3.  Don’t stand in front of or by the singer or DJ and talk louder than the singer!  If you are speaking with someone and the singer is too loud, go farther from the singer.  It is distracting to sing well with a lot of external noises interfering.  Be courteous to the singer!  If you approach the stage to address the host while a singer is singing, do not walk or stand in front of the TV, or talk loudly to the host.  Courtesy is the rule.

4.  Wait your turn.  Everyone else has to, and it is not courteous to expect to be placed before someone else.  Tipping the DJ, although appreciated, will not ensure you will be bumped up in line.  This is the hardest part of karaoke.  

5.  ARE YOU SICK?  Microphones can be a breeding ground for germs.  If you are deathly ill, stay home and get better, or just don’t sing.  I try to stay on top of cleaning the mics as often as possible, but if you contaminate the mics while sick, you are passing on your germs to the host and all of the next singers.  If you let the host know you are sick, he can disinfect the mic after your performance...but please consider not singing if you are contagious.

ARE THERE ANY SAFETY ISSUES I SHOULD KNOW ABOUT?  Why yes, I’m glad you asked.  The equipment used to produce your sound is high voltage and high priced.  Please help me protect you and my equipment by observing the following:

1.  Avoid bringing drinks and cigarettes to the stage area, and definitely do not bring them to the DJ area.  Cigarettes ashes and smoke can damage my equipment and one spilled drink, or a few misplaced drops of drink can put me out of business for days and cause an electrocution hazard.  This is why I ask; when you come to the stage, do not place drinks or cigs on the equipment or near wires.  If you must bring them to the stage area, keep them away from all equipment.

2.  If you are using a corded mic, do not walk into a crowd with the cord stretched out.  Someone may trip and hurt themselves.  This also is not safe for the cord.  Never, never, under any circumstances should you swing the mic by the cord!!  Leave this to the professionals as they have specially prepared their mics for this and I have not.  Swinging the mic will result in my mics becoming projectiles and causing damage and bodily harm.  If using the cordless, do not juggle or toss the mic!!!  Harryoke! Entertainment will not be held liable for damages arising from the activities of the singer’s misuse or abuse of the equipment, and similarly singers who willfully damage the mics may be held liable for their replacement...  Do not drop the mics or slam them to the floor!  They are not toys and although you see this done in concert and on MTV all the time, my mics will not survive this.

I am constantly updating the catalogs with new music…if you have any song requests for music that I do not have, be sure to let me know! The newest songs are often found in add on sheets near the front of the book or at the NEW MUSIC section where the song lists are at my website. Generally the website is updated far sooner than the books.
If you have any suggestions or comments at all on how to improve the show, be sure to let me know!! It is your show!!



While it appears we have come out of the economic downturn, much of the information in the blog below still stands true.  Many people do not

understand how a karaoke show generates money for the bar owner, or how a singer can better support the karaoke show to ensure it continues.  The blog from 2009 has been reprinted here in an effort to help singers understand the economics of karaoke.

The Recession, Karaoke and You

While I am sensitive to the economic climate today, and it's effect on my friends, patrons and singers, I also see the economy eroding at karaoke from another direction, one which I have addressed in the following essay.  Karaoke shows and similar entertainment are free to the public, but there is a hidden cost, and a threat to the future of such entertainment that the economic down turn is seeming to accellerate.  The following essay addresses the impact from the perspective of the venues who pay for and provide my service, and those who work at the venues.


The recent economic downturn has affected all of us in one way or another, but most definitely has affected the karaoke community.  We have seen business after business fail lately, and shows at some bars have disappeared.   Many people have either lost their jobs, or otherwise do not have the discretionary income they once had to come out and enjoy an evening of food, drink, and karaoke.  A good karaoke host knows what the reason for their being at a venue is, and when venues, or the people who work at them, stop making money, it puts the future of a karaoke show in peril.  The following is a brief essay to explain the economics of karaoke, and an explanation of your part in that system as a consumer of the karaoke product.   


This reason is simple.  Bars and restaurants hire a karaoke host to attract a crowd to spend money.  While having a host who is good with people, attracts good singers, and has decent equipment and selection is a plus, at the end of the day it comes down to what is in the cash register, and what the servers can earn.  Bar owners are less concerned with the content of a show, than they are that the show attracts a crowd and that the numbers at the end of the day justify inviting the host back week after week.  A good host will remain aware of what the bars take is, and how much the servers are earning, to be sure that the economics of karaoke at that location are worth the venue asking him or her to come back week after week.  It is important for a large percentage of attendees to support the venue, either by eating or drinking, and also for the attendees to tip their servers.  Servers generally make less than minimum wage, and rely on tips solely to make a livable wage.


First and foremost...smaller crowds.  Secondly, those who are attending seem to spend less.  It is possible to see shows that are wildly popular, with long rotations and believe that it is going to be a great night for the host and venue...but then at the end of the night, the servers have made little to no money, and the total in the cash register is very low.  This has been the first year that I have gone to work at several of my venues, wondering if my future was in jeopardy there...either because the rings or attendance have been low, or because the venue overall is losing money and may close down.  Where a large crowd may give the illusion of success, it is NOT NECESSARILY so.  


SUPPORT THE VENUE AND THE SERVERS!  First and foremost, if you are supporting the venues and the servers, THANK YOU!!  Supporting can be as simple as ordering a food item, maybe a couple of drinks...and tipping your server.  I understand that many do not drink, and choose to drink soft drinks or water.  Please understand that the venue does have an overhead of paying for the room, the staff and the entertainment, so if they charge a premium for soft drinks, water and refills, it is merely to recoup their costs in paying the bills from a shrinking audience.  Some folks have balked at rising prices, or less liberal refill policies, or higher prices for drinks not accompanied by food, by taking it out on the servers and not tipping them.  The servers do not make the price policies, so please do not take it out on them.  When you look at your tab, factor in not only the cost of the food or drink, but also the enjoyment you got from the entertainment.  There was no cover charge, so if you feel your tab is high, pretend that it includes a cover charge to pay for your karaoke host, and the electricity, etc...  Cover charges COULD become the next step if we are not cautious.


Keeping the servers and bartenders happy goes a long way to keeping your favorite karaoke show in business.  If the servers do not make money, they will not want to work the shifts...and when management sees no one wants the shifts, they will more closely audit the karaoke night to see if it is worthwhile.  Similarly, if the servers do not make money, they will not have a positive outlook on their job, or karaoke.  Happy servers are better at their job, and if they see karaoke as a money making night, will do more to promote it, both to the public and to their bosses.  TIPPING THE BARTENDER OR SERVER IS NOT OPTIONAL!  This must be in the budget for the night.  I have heard story after story about patrons who pay their tabs, then explain that they are broke and cant afford to tip...and then smile at the server and expect them to understand.  Serving food and drink is what they do to survive, and why they are there...and they are paid by the consumers in the form of tips.  To allow and expect someone to serve you, even water, for the duration of an evening with no pay is not acceptable, and will not win a karaoke night any favor from management.  Imagine if your waiter came to where you work and expected you to do what you do for a living for them, then when it came time to pay, refused to pay your labor charge or commission because they did not have enough money.  That is how waiters feel when they are "stiffed".  After speaking to several servers, the consensus is that if someone tips a buck a drink for alcohol, or drops a five at the beginning of a night to show intent, then follows up later with 18-20% of the total bill tipped, that would be a good return.  ANY gesture is better than none.  

One must understand the "real estate" of restaurants and bars as well.  Each table represents a station for a server, and each seat in that station has the potential of generating revenue for the server, and the venue.  If someone takes a seat at a station, they are responsible for making sure the server at that station is being taken care of.  The value of the "real estate" of the chair you are sitting in depends on several factors....1) How busy is the night and is that seat needed, 2)  Are you intending to eat and drink, or sip water. 3) How many people at the table are eating and drinking vs not.

At venues where there are PLENTY of seats, this is not as crucial as at smaller venues where seating is at a premium.  I know that one venue I work at with limited seating is working on instituting a minimum purchase policy for its premium seating soon to ensure that paying diners do not leave for lack of a seat.  

I have heard singers that do not spend use the argument that "they sing well and people come to hear them" or that "they bring their friends who spend".  To some extent, those statements are true, and personally, I am happy to see a crowd...the bigger the better.  I work better with a crowd.  There is no shame to coming and NOT spending, unless, you are taking up real estate at a crowded show, or you are not tipping the server.  Even if you are not spending, if you take a seat, you should tip the server for checking in on you and cleaning up after you when you leave.  Tipping a server for free water may not endear you to the venue, but your server will appreciate it, and you, very much.  


Ordering anything helps...bringing friends who may eat or drink...  If drinking water, buying the bottle instead of drinking the free water helps.  


Together we can all ride out the economic downturn to more prosperous time, but the issues discussed in this essay are timeless regardless of any economic condition.  We all enjoy a great karaoke show, but need to understand the real reason they exist for us.  When the show or its patrons become a liability to the venue,  karaoke and similar "free" entertainment will go away.  If you are not a part of the "problem", then you ARE the solution.  For that I thank you, both on my behalf, and on the behalf of the places that keep me working, and the servers who take care of my patrons.   If we keep the shows viable for the venues, the servers and the patrons, our shows will be going on forever!    I thank you for your patronage, and for your ear on this matter.       

Feel free to contact me with any questions or comment or suggestions in regard to this subject!!  


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