by Andrew Johnson - Jul. 22, 2009 04:01 PM
The Arizona Republic

An East Coast karaoke-disc producer has filed a federal lawsuit
against 15 Phoenix-area karaoke jockeys and bars for alleged trademark infringement and unfair competition.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Sound Choice Studios Inc. could potentially seek millions of dollars in statutory damages, lost profits and attorneys fees, but has not served the defendants yet because it is seeking a deal where they would buy legal copies of the discs.

Sound Choice claims the businesses infringed on its trademarked logos that appear on its media by using pirated copies of its discs or computer hard drives preloaded with illegal copies of Sound Choice karaoke music.

The alleged piracy has nearly forced Sound Choice, other disc manufacturers and some karaoke jockeys in the Phoenix area out of business, according to the lawsuit filed July 14 in U.S. District Court in Phoenix.

Kurt Slep, chief executive officer of Sound Choice, said his company became aware of the defendants' alleged activity through tips from karaoke businesses and by sending "investigators" to karaoke venues in the Phoenix area.

Statutory damages for willful copyright infringement can cost up to $150,000 per act and up to $2 million for willful trademark infringement.

Slep said the number of alleged violations depends on how many karaoke systems each defendant uses. He estimates there is about $1 billion of pirated Sound Choice karaoke music in use across the industry.

Music industry executives have complained for several years that digital downloads and online file-sharing programs have made it easier to violate trademarks and copyrights. Karaoke business executives say they have been affected, too.

Slep and others say such hard-drives loaded with thousands of songs are readily available for sale on eBay, Craigslist and other Web sites. He estimates 90 percent of karaoke jockeys and venues are using some pirated music.

Some business owners disagree with methods used by Sound Choice and other disc manufacturers.

Sound Choice in the past has sent threatening letters to bars saying they could face hefty fines and lose their liquor license for allowing karaoke jockeys using pirated music to operate in their establishments, said Ernest McCullar, a Valley karaoke disc jockey.

McCullar's business, Wired for Sound, has lost clients as result of Sound Choice's "scare tactics," he said.

McCullar is one of the defendants named in Sound Choice's lawsuit, which alleges the manufacturer observed his business infringing on its trademarks in March at the Purple Turtle Sports Bar & Grill in west Phoenix. The bar is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

McCullar disputes the claim.

Debora Verdier, an attorney with Sanders & Parks P.C. in Phoenix who specializes in music copyright and trademark law, said venues that host karaoke jockeys using pirated content can be found liable for infringement.

Under federal law, a business can be found guilty of "contributory" infringement if it provides a forum in which infringement is allowed to take place and if it has control over the equipment or discs a karaoke jockey uses at its site, she said.

Verdier added that determining such liability requires a "highly fact-intensive analysis" of a venue's knowledge and typically is decided on a case-by-case basis.

The bars and restaurants Sound Choice names in the suit are ones that allegedly were operating their own karaoke systems as opposed to venues that were hosting karaoke shows put on by other businesses.

Sound Choice's suit alleges only trademark infringement, but Slep said the company also is considering pursuing copyright infringement of the actual music it produces.

Eric Godfrey, owner of Starz Karaoke, which puts on karaoke shows at mostly East Valley establishments, said he hopes Sound Choice's lawsuit will raise awareness about infringement, which has hurt his business.

"I am hoping that the impact will be that some of the companies who are doing business illegally will go out of business," said Godfrey, who helped start the Mesa-based United States Karaoke Alliance in 2007 to combat piracy, among other things.

Godfrey, who is not named in the suit, said it is hard for legally operating karaoke shows to compete with disc jockeys using pirated music.

Saturday, Jun. 06, 2009
By Sean Gregory

To Koma Gandy, the folks who mix her favorite tunes were always like the Wizard of Oz. "You go out to this party and the deejay is this mysterious entity behind a wall, where all this magic happened," says Gandy, 34, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. "I've always wanted to see how the magic was constructed." Thanks to the recession, Gandy and many others are finally getting a chance to connect with their inner-MC. After she lost her hedge fund job in December, Gandy, a Harvard undergrad who also has an MBA from Georgetown, made a list of the things she's always wanted to do, if a lifetime of work and achievement and climbing up the corporate ladder don't get in the way. Near the top of the list: learn to rock a party with a turntable. "I figured, now is better time than any to do this,' says Gandy. "It might be my last chance. And I don't want to be one of those people, at the end of life, who says, 'I wish I had gone for it."

So Gandy enrolled at DubSpot, a New York City deejay school. She has already taken two introductory courses, and just signed up for three more. Thanks to the many young professionals like Gandy whose careers are now at a crossroads, DubSpot's enrollment has doubled this year, to around 250. "We've heard from students, time and time again, that they're feeling it's no longer just about money," says Dan Giove, founder and president of DubSpot. "People are longing for happiness through being creative." (Watch TIME's video "Hip-Hop in China: Busting Rhymes in Mandarin.")

New York is not the only city enjoying a deejay boomlet. In San Francisco, the D4LIFE Academy's student registrations are up 40% over the last 12 months. Sasha Tosic, founder of DJ4LIFE, also says enrollment has risen in Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas. Robb Smith, owner of Central Florida-based FAME training school, has seen a 20% jump in deejay certifications this year. Aspiring deejays are flooding the schools, and flooding the market. "It's a lot easier to find a deejay these days," says Mark Rankin, who trains deejays in Chicago.

At these schools, students learn the technical aspects of the trade, as well as the basics of, say, running a wedding. One lesson from Rankin's classes — if you're going to announce a cake cutting, make sure the photographer is in the room. "You'll be surprised how many beginners forget little things like that, and these little things make a big difference," says Rankin. Smith actually compares deejay school to medical school. "Just because you have all the surgical equipment doesn't mean you're ready to do surgery," Smith says. Er, playing music isn't quite like a brain operation, correct? "If you have ruined the biggest day in the bride's life, to her, it's like screwing up brain surgery," Smith responds. The instructor says he does not offer a course in bridezilla management. "If I did, I'd be a millionaire," he says.

What's the appeal of being a deejay? For one, the occupation can stroke your ego. "To see everyone having a good time, to get a reaction from them, that's the thing I like," says Sean Williams, 29, who lost his postal service job in July and now deejays in the Bay Area (stage name: DJ Padd). "You can control everyone.' You can also pick up the basics in a month or two, and schools aren't ridiculously expensive: Rankin, for example, charges $600 for a month-long class in Chicago. A five-month intensive course at New York's DubSpot goes for $1,695. Not cheap, but perhaps better than a $100,000 graduate school tab for a career that is evaporating.

Some people, like Gandy, take these courses for therapeutic, rather than practical, reasons. "It's really nice to have someplace to go to forget about all that other stuff," says Gandy, referring to her layoff and search for another full-time job. Others play tunes for the extra income. Tony Colvin, who lives in Aurora, Colo., lost his job at a Dow Jones pressman last August. "Deejaying was a pipe dream," says Colvin, 44. "But once I got out of Dow Jones, I really wanted to give it a go." He bought $5,000 worth of equipment, and spent another $150 or so on a class. The problem: as more people look to deejaying for extra cash, the oversupply will drive down the number of work opportunities for aspiring MCs, and the fees they can command. "Business is a little slow right now,' says Colvin, who also suffered a neck injury from an auto accident last month, making the job tougher. He has yet to make back his deejay investment. "I'm like a fireman waiting for a call," he says.

And though Gandy doesn't envision her career path veering from hedge fund worker to full-time club deejay, she's not writing anything off at this point. "Stranger things have happened," says Gandy, who has also launched a small business strategy firm since being laid off. "I never thought I'd lose my job, and I did. All these people out there are now reinventing themselves. Why not reinvent yourself as a deejay?"

Zac Bissonnette

The deejay business would seem to be as vulnerable to the recession as anything: When people are short on cash, isn't clubbing one of the first things to go?

Maybe, but apparently quite a few Junior Vazquez wannabes are hoping that the market will turnaround. Time reports that enrollment at NYC deejay school DubSpot has doubled in the past year, as laid-off financial wizards realize that money isn't everything, and take a shot at a dream career.

According to Time, "New York is not the only city enjoying a deejay boomlet. In San Francisco, the D4LIFE Academy's student registrations are up 40% over the last 12 months. Sasha Tosic, founder of DJ4LIFE, also says enrollment has risen in Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas. Robb Smith, owner of Central Florida-based FAME training school, has seen a 20% jump in deejay certifications this year. Aspiring deejays are flooding the schools, and flooding the market."

And there's the problem: Demand for deejays is stagnant at best and the supply is increasing. And while the DJ courses are surprisingly affordable, the equipment needed to start your own business can be expensive.

If it's something you're passionate about, it might be worth a try. But as a way to make ends meet after you've lost a job, deejaying is pretty low on the list. It just takes too long to earn a return on your investment.

But if you're still interested in exploring a career as a DJ, there are a number of resources out there including the obligatory DJing for Dummies. But like most glamor jobs, there's too much of a disconnect between supply and demand for it to be a lucrative career choice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Median hourly earnings of announcers in the radio and television broadcasting industry were $11.52."

If TV and radio announcers earn so little, how much can you possibly make playing "American Pie" at weddings?


Mega Karaoke Event - April 25, 2009

Posted by Dietingfashions | 10:12 PM

A few pictures from the event - sent in by Mike Powell "Elwood Blues"

Key To More Gigs

Posted by Dietingfashions | 10:39 PM

There are three things that will get you more business in today's economy.

If you are a DJ or KJ, mostly likely it is your reputation. You're known for a great selection and a large variety of music, great attitude, and you're reliable, your phone is probably ringing off the hook. Be as it may, not all DJs have the knack to keep their clients happy. When you slack off by not arriving to a gig on time or you just make singers unhappy because of preferential treatments, you've got a long way to go to achieve a good reputation.

2nd thing is your website. If your website is outdated, and very plain, potential clients will steer clear of you. They see this as a no no. Being a DJ is artistic and creative job. By presenting that on your site, you come across as professional and "reputable." Yes, back to reputation.

Lastly, you won't believe what will drive traffic to you. Business Cards. Yup. But not any plain jane BC. Get awesome ones with popups or in metal. Presentation is the IT factor. If you WOW clients with a cool looking BC, it will keep you in their minds for a really long time. It's called the shock factor.

Check this list out: 74 Unique Business Cards

Vocal Mic Battles...

Posted by Dietingfashions | 11:18 AM

Contributed and Written by Jorge Delaflor

So everyone is always claiming which microphone is the best for the buck. Well the truth is it all comes down to personal preference, and not only personal preference but its also gonna depend on your voice. Not everyone has the deep strip club DJ voice so we're all gonna sound different on every mic. As we all know the popular Shure SM58 is probably one of the most durable and best sounding when it come to singing either with a live band or simply karaoke, this of course includes both wired and wireless. However as most of you KJ's will agree that you probably don't wanna use a wireless SM58 or AKG for karaoke, not unless you're rich and love throwing money away. What I have found out is that AKG makes a wired microphone called the D5 which is in the same price range as the SM58 and sounds just as great if not better in my opinion. I don't have a very deep voice and I do notice that on an SM58 I have to add a little bass on my mixer board just to get a fuller voice. Unlike the AKG D5 it sounds alot fuller without sounding muffled and without having to make adjustments to the board, not to mention the head seems to be a bit more solid than the SM58. If you go online and see the specs you will see that they are roughly the same but again, if you wanna have a fuller sound on your voice whether its singing or just announcing then AKG D5 is the way to go.

Humorous Karaoke Word Play

Posted by Dietingfashions | 5:57 PM

Auxpareoke - Getting caught with your girlfriend by your wife at the local karaoke bar.

Barelyoke - When someone sings into the mic but you still can't hear them.

Bareoke - Singing au naturel (in the buff).

Blareoke - When the music is WAY TOO LOUD!

Bloodymaryoke - Any show that lasts until daylight.

Brokey-oke - Singing withdrawals suffered the weekend before you get paid.

Buryoke - Any song that has been done to death and is pulled from the lists.

Carry-No-Key - A description of bad singers.

Chairoke - A person who sits to sing so they can hide behind the monitor.

Cherryoke - A first time karaoke singer.

Dareoke - A "friend" picks out a song that you have never tried.

Derrieroke - Randomly pulling a song title out of your butt and trying to sing it.

Fairoke - When a new song turns out to be OK and you'll try it again.

Fareoke - A venue that charges you to sing or makes you pay a cover charge.

Frustrateoke - Trying to hear the singer on the mic above the off-key person next to you.

Gerioke - Karaoke for the elderly.

Glareoke - Unable to read the monitor because there is a spotlight in your face.

Guessaoke - When you thought you know a song by heart and mess up the words.

HariKari-oke - Equating the fear of singing with suicide.

Holyoke - Gospel music at a bar.

Impairaoke - When dancers on the floor block your view of the monitor.

KA (Karaokians Anonymous) - A recovery group for Karaoke Junkies.

KDT's - What a Karaokian goes through if unable to sing karaoke once a week.

Karaokia - A planet where Karaoke Junkies are born, live, and prosper singing karaoke 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Karaokian - A resident of Karaokia.

Karaokian Follower - Believing there "really" is a planet named Karaokia and your "Mother Ship" is coming back for you.

Karaoke Junkie - One who "must" sing karaoke at least once a week or they'll "die".

Kamikazi-oke - Sliding your finger down the catalog list and diving into it unprepared.

KaraChainSmokie - A nervous condition that occurs before trying out a new song.

Karachokie - Having to end a verse short due to saliva going down the wrong tube.

Karanookie - What every guy prays for after any given night of singing.

Karaslowpokie - A KJ who takes forever to get the next song up.

Karasmokie - A KJ who abuses the fog machine, making it impossible to sing.

Karateoke - When a singer does an Elvis song with leg kicks, arm thrusts, etc.

Karayuckie - The song that makes you run for the bathroom or a smoke break.

Naryoke - A town that doesn't have a karaoke venue.

Nearoke - You set up the show and no one will sing.

Not-there-eoke - When the next person you call up has left without telling the KJ.

Prairieoke - Too many country songs in a row.

Retalioke - When you laughed at a singer and he waited out back to kick your butt.

Scaryoke - Attempting a song for the first time and you're pretty sure it's gonna' suck.

Scateoke - The uncontrollable urge to improvise during musical breaks.

Shareoke - When you and some friends "tag-team" through a song.

Shareoke(2) - Wandering around with a cordless mic to get others to sing with you.

Stareaoke - Waiting for the gal in the super-low cut blouse to take a bow after her song.

Solitaireoke - When the KJ is forced to sing 'cause there are no sign-ups.

Sorryoke - Events that make you wish you had stayed at home.

Speedaroke - Getting as many singers up as possible in the last hour of the gig.

Stumbleaoke - Tripping while going up on stage to sing.

Swearoke - Someone who changes the lyrics in order to cuss for the hell of it.

Swearoke(2) - Any song sung deliberately to offend.

Tokoyokie - Walking into an all Japanese sing along.

Unfairoke - The person who always complains after losing a contest.

Waryoke - You get up to sing in a group song but no way will you get near the mic.

Wastoidoke - Someone who is too drunk to sing.

Wearyoke - The third time you hear the same songin a single night.

Whereoke - Frantic search for a singing fix when a karaoke junkie visits a new town.

Whoreoke - A person who offers sex for an extra turn in the rotation.