Many people enjoy the hobby of karaoke singing, a form of entertainment in which background vocals and lyrics are provided for soloists or groups. Karaoke, Japanese for "empty orchestra", is often featured in local bars or nightclubs as a means of attracting new customers and building up repeat business. With so many singers taking part in karaoke, a form of karaoke etiquette has emerged over time.
One rule of karaoke etiquette involves the selection of songs. It is not unusual for a regular karaoke singer to perform a certain number of signature songs throughout the evening, for instance. Karaoke etiquette suggests that other regular singers refrain from requesting those songs themselves. Deliberately performing another karaoke singer's signature or favorite songs is considered very bad form. The point of karaoke is to have fun, not to upstage another performer.
Criticism of fellow karaoke singers is also a point of karaoke etiquette. On any given night, the quality of singing is going to vary widely. Some people who have never sung publicly before in their lives may find the courage to perform in front of an appreciative audience. Heckling or derisive comments during a song are considered to be poor karaoke etiquette.
Whenever possible, attention should be given to the performer as a sign of encouragement. Polite applause is always a good idea. First-time singers often appreciate words of encouragement from veteran performers.
Another rule of karaoke etiquette is always to respect the karaoke host. A karaoke host's job is to encourage participation and build up an environment of fun and excitement. Customers who bring dozens of song requests at one time or insist on a specific singing order demonstrate poor karaoke etiquette skills.
There may be times during an evening that singers are bumped out of order to accommodate new performers. Song requests may become lost in a shuffle. The wrong song may start or a microphone may malfunction. The proper thing to do is to allow the karaoke host to fix the problem without undue criticism.
Proper karaoke etiquette is not likely to be listed in the song selection books or posted on the wall of a karaoke club, but veteran karaoke singers usually learn the best way to handle certain situations. Karaoke etiquette is often a case of respecting each other's personal space and making newcomers feel welcome.