Are you looking for a fun-filled way to add a competitive spin to your karaoke nights at your bar, restaurant, or nightclub? Want to attract a crowd every Wednesday and keep your customers engaged? It sounds like it's time to host a karaoke contest.

Karaoke competitions are a fun, interactive way to engage and encourage your customers. With a well-thought-out contest, you can attract a crowd and keep them coming back for more.

However, for a karaoke competition to work to your advantage, you need to have a well-thought-out approach and be strategic with your karaoke contest ideas and excecution.

We put together a step-by-step guide for how to judge karaoke contests and plan one on your own.

Here's everything you need to know:

1. Start with your set-up

If you don't have a professional karaoke set-up, you aren't going to see success. The right karaoke set-up ensures your customers have everything they need to find the songs they want to sing and to sing them on stage.

Here's what you need to get started:

Diagram show everything you need for a proper karaoke setup.

If you want to see success with your karaoke contest ideas, you'll want to avoid letting your customers use YouTube to find and sing their song of choice. This can disrupt the customer experience and doesn't have the legal performance rights needed to perform songs in a venue or establishment.

2. Set the rules and make a plan

The rules are guidelines karaoke singers must use to know how to win. When planning your karaoke contest, you'll want to consider how exactly you want the same to play out. Is it one big contest every Wednesday night? Is every night of the week a mini-contest? Maybe, you want to host a month-long sing-off. You can look at karaoke competitions like the Karaoke World Championships to get some inspiration.

Brenda Gavino - Bronze in KWC Solo Category 2022
Brenda Gavino - Bronze in KWC Solo Category 2022

Whatever plan you have, you'll want to ensure this is well communicated with your customers. Always have clear and concise rules on your fliers and social media posts. You may also want to do a rundown of the rules before the karaoke contest begins to make sure everyone is on the same page.

3. Decide on the prize

The best way to inspire friendly competition and to keep your customers engaged with the contest from start to finish is to have a great prize on the line! Don't worry. If you don't have the budget for a prize, you can consider asking other local businesses if they want to sponsor the prizes. This marketing tactic will expand your reach to their audiences. You can also use the prizes as an advertising opportunity.

Consider doing several prizes to ensure all contestants are engaged with the contest. This will allow for more than one winner and keep everyone competitive throughout the event.

4. Contact hosts and judges

To keep your customers engaged with the karaoke contest, you need a great host to entertain a crowd. The host you pick will impact the entire vibe of the night. Contact local celebrities, drag queens, and comedians, or connect with a professional karaoke host online to help make your karaoke contest more entertaining. If you decide to have a server or a bartender at your establishment run the show, it may not have the same impact you're hoping for.

Three drag queen karaoke hosts from the karaoke hole
The Karaoke Hole is famous for their drag karaoke hosts. Image credits: Róisín Murphy

You'll also want to choose judges who aren't affiliated with your establishment. This will help create an even playing field and get more people from your community involved in the fun. You may need to do some research online to find a great match. Don't be afraid to use Reddit, Facebook, and other social media platforms to find individuals that can help.

5. Market the event to attract singers

Now, it's time for the real fun to begin! If you want to have a fun-filled karaoke contest, you want to attract talented singers to your establishment. Great singers will make the experience more entertaining for your customers that are just coming to watch and will help raise the stakes.

The participants from the 2018 KWC in Helsinki
All the singers from the Karaoke World Championships 2018

To do so, you'll want to create compelling marketing flyers to share on social media or print out and hand out in your community. Your fliers should list all the information the talent needs to know and tease the prizes. If you are planning to offer prizes like free drinks or offers from the bar you will mostly attract locals, if you offer larger prizes you have a chance to attract singers from afar.

6. Take sign ups in advance

A karaoke contest is different from your average open mic night. You need to plan accordingly and ensure everything goes according to plan on the big day. Once you start marketing your event, you can take sign-ups from any singers who plan to participate.

This way, your host can successfully plan the experience for your customers and come ready to go. This will also ensure that you have the songs available for them to sing.

With karaoke software like Singa, you can always feel rest assured that every singer will get to pick a song they want to sing from our song catalog. We have a huge library of the best karaoke songs with various song track versions and settings to adjust backing vocals, pitch, and more.

7. Market the event to customers

Group of karaoke lovers supporting a karaoke contest

Now that you have a host, a list of karaoke singers ready to take the stage, and a plan for your event - it's time to attract a crowd! You'll want to create marketing assets you can use to bring in customers and get their support for the big event. This will ensure there's a room filled with supportive karaoke lovers and help you get an extra revenue boost.

To encourage customers, consider planning special deals and offers on drinks and food. This will help attract a new crowd and keep customers satisfied.

Please note: The marketing assets you use to attract customers will be different than the ones you made to attract the talent. Consider how you can adjust your marketing approach to show customers how fun the experience will be for everyone. Include necessary details like who the host is, time, date, and the deals you're offering on food and drinks.

Check out our guide to promoting and marketing karaoke events here.

8. Plan a mic check

Once the day arrives, it's time to get organized! A karaoke contest is much different than a karaoke night. You're hosting a night-long performance and want to ensure everything goes according to plan. To do so, consider doing a mic check before the event.

During the mic check you'll double-check your equipment, prepare the playlist, and play out your intermissions. This will give you the peace of mind you need for the big event.

9. Judge the event

To judge the event, you'll want to have a variety of criteria for winning the karaoke contest. Criteria include:

  • Vocal skills
  • Song choice
  • Stage presence
  • Overall impression
  • Audience participation

Before the event begins, you can introduce your judges to the crowd and walk through the criteria with the customers. You can also make the audience part of the judging by getting audience participation to count toward the winner.

Don't forget to make the winners announcement as exciting as possible. That way you can get everyone hypes and looking forward to the next competition.

10. Repeat the process, and plan your next event!

The truth is: Planning your first karaoke contest is the hardest part of the experience. Once you nail down the process, you can easily plan your future karaoke contests and events. If everything is successful, you can consider planning events every month or quarter. This is a great way to bring new customers to your establishment and grow your business.

If you'd like to get involved with the biggest karaoke contest in the world, contact your national partner to learn more about the Karaoke World Championships. Your involvement in this international event will help you gain valuable brand exposure.

Keke Adiba - Gold in KWC Solo Category 2022
Keke Adiba - Gold in KWC Solo Category 2022

Get set-up with Singa

If you're ready to try something new – a karaoke contest is the right choice. These experiences inspire friendly competition and keep your customers entertained and engaged at your establishment. To ensure you have a successful event, you'll need karaoke software like Singa on your side. Our user-friendly platform has everything you need to host a full-fledged contest at your establishment.

Dashboard and song selection view of Singa Business Pro on an iPad.
Singa Business Pro Dashboard

Contact us today to learn more about our business karaoke solutions