Could your bar or restaurant business do with a financial boost? Thinking of increasing traffic on an otherwise ho-hum Tuesday evening? There are many ways to bring in new audiences to your venue, but one of the most appealing and cost-effective options is by adding a dedicated space or area for karaoke – specifically, self-service karaoke.

Here, we’ll go into greater detail as to how and why self-service karaoke just might be the option for you.

What is self-service karaoke?

Two people at Kraken bar Helsinki using self-service karaoke.
Self-service karaoke at Kraken, Helsinki 

Self-service karaoke is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a designated karaoke station that lives on its own, or inside a private booth, in a bar or restaurant that people can walk up to, then switch on, and wild out. Kind of like a jukebox (for anyone who can remember those) – but a million times better.

For bar and restaurant owners who aren’t yet willing to overhaul their layout, or for those who might want to try a softer approach to incorporating karaoke into their venue, self-service karaoke stations are a great alternative. Best of all, self-service karaoke booths provide entertainment for those interested, without distracting or disturbing those who are only there to eat or drink.

Someone selecting a song from a self-service karaoke station.

Overall, these options are a nice concept and ideal for trying out a soft approach to a full karaoke embrace. If business owners notice that the self-service karaoke booths are getting a lot of attention, they might decide it's in their best interest to expand to a wider karaoke concept.

Why self-service karaoke is a growing trend

Restaurant and bar owners who are looking to increase growth within their establishments should be paying attention to the latest trends in the eatertainment industry – and karaoke has been on the radar for years. Really, who doesn’t love karaoke?

For decades, it has been an engaging and unique pastime that allows people to truly unwind and be their most uninhibited and ridiculous selves, while also creating lasting memories and establishing and strengthening friendships. Bars and restaurants that offer karaoke options do so in a judgment-free environment where everyone can let loose, have some drinks, and sing, often turning a low-traffic night of the week into a widely popular local event.

Woman selecting a song from an iPad for karaoke.
Self-service karaoke at Street Pride Bar. 

Not only is self-service karaoke gaining popularity due to the return of in-person dining following the global COVID-19 pandemic, but also because of the versatility self-service options provide. Audiences who might be intimidated by the concept of singing in front of an entire bar crowd on a stage can instead pop into a self-service booth and croon along to their favorite track. This creates a sense of intimacy and flexibility that younger audiences nowadays value tremendously. And once they’ve grown comfortable with the idea of private karaoke, they are more inclined to become die-hard fans of ALL karaoke. Seriously, self-service is a growing trend that is definitely worth capitalizing on.

People singing karaoke at Street Pride karaoke bar in Helsinki.

How self-service karaoke brings in more business

Self-service karaoke is a unique add-on for many types of businesses specializing in or that are open to the concept of eatertainment. These types of venues create increased opportunities for business by adding fun and engaging activities into an already interactive outing. It’s truly all about creating an ultra-cool experience. By elevating the experience, patrons who enter your space hoping for a fantastic meal, complemented by crafted cocktails and a solid beer and wine list, are also more inclined to stay and spend more money if there is an activity to keep them engaged. And if the activity – like self-service karaoke – is appealing enough, they’re more likely to return more often.

Not only is it the self-service karaoke that is bringing in new business, but it's also the customers themselves who engage with the karaoke, maybe recording their singing before sharing it with their social media followers. More often than not, they’ll tag your business and spread the word that your bar or restaurant offers karaoke. It’s free advertising: Customers get the "likes" and businesses get the increased traffic. Turning your space into a more social environment, one that encourages visitors to mill around and interact with the fixtures and facilities (and each other), creates a familiar vibe that mimics a happening get-together: indoors, with great food.

Should your business offer self-service karaoke?

Group singing at self-service karaoke in Helsinki, Finland.

As with any business move, there are pros and cons to incorporating self-service karaoke into your bar or restaurant. But while the benefits certainly outweigh the potential pitfalls, you might consider having all the possibilities at your fingertips. Here are the pros and cons of bringing self-service karaoke into your venue:

Self-service karaoke – PROs:

  • The ultimate benefit: self-service is remarkably easy and cost-effective to add and operate. By using a reputable company that offers reliable and seamlessly efficient karaoke equipment, you can set up as large or small an area as you wish and let customers entertain themselves for hours.
  • With self-service karaoke available, you don't need designated staff to operate the equipment, thereby saving costs associated with overtime hours and hiring new employees.
  • Self-service karaoke is ideal for business owners interested in gradually introducing karaoke into their venue – testing out the waters to see if there is interest, and, if so, an increase in revenue – before investing in a more large-scale karaoke area.
  • As a benefit to your business, self-service stations or booths are also beneficial in that customers who might otherwise never try karaoke can discover the fun of singing privately at YOUR venue before falling in love with karaoke in general. People always remember their first karaoke spotlight moment!

Self-service karaoke – CONs:

Getting started with self-service karaoke

The bar space and karaoke set-up at Kraken Helsinki, showing a TV screen speakers, and the seating area.

If thinking about a move towards incorporating self-service karaoke, there are a couple of different options available. And for each, there are benefits and drawbacks for your venue. Make sure you've considered each service package carefully:

What equipment and software do you need?

  • A karaoke subscription Service: These are undoubtedly the most popular karaoke solution any business owner can invest in from the get-go. These services come complete with thousands of song options and are continually updated with new and current content. Singa is the go-to option for self-service karaoke. Customers can customize their individual singing experience, lining up one preferred track after another – seamlessly and efficiently in a self-service mode for a flat, monthly fee.
  • An iPad: This will act as the discovery station for people to find a select songs from. Karaoke services like Singa can run from an iPad and are designed to allow people to easily select songs. You should also get a holder to make sure the iPad stays in place.
  • Loudspeakers: Karaoke can get rowdy for sure. So good speakers are a must.
  • Screens: People need somewhere to read the lyrics. Think if you want one screen or multiple screens. With one screen it feels more like an event and people will focus in the direction of the singer. If you have multiple screens it acts more like a singa along and people throughout the venue can join in.
  • Mixers: You'll need this to connect your microphones to the speaker system as well as adjust the tweak bass, treble, echo and volume.
  • High-quality karaoke microphones: to complement the look and feel of your self-service karaoke setup. Make sure to invest in quality microphones from the start to make sure everyone sounds great.

    Check out our karaoke microphone selection guide here.
iPad and microphones used for self-service karaoke.

There you have it! A breakdown of the benefits, the drawbacks, and everything else you need to know about self-service karaoke, and why it might be the right fit for your bar or restaurant business.

Now that you know the pros and cons – and the overall benefit of incorporating this engaging activity to attract new audiences – you're ready to make an informed decision. Discover even more helpful information about the business of karaoke by reaching out to a Singa representative.