Karaoke is a favorite nighttime pastime across the world. People flock from all over to enjoy a night of singing and butchering songs with friends, which offers the perfect chance for them to let loose and enjoy themselves.
As a karaoke establishment looking to attract regular and steady clientele, it’s important to know the role design plays in getting your customers to patronize and return to your venue often.
In this guide, we look at several easy design tips to help you make the most of your space.
Determine How To Set Up Your Space
The first, and most important decision is where to put your karaoke room(s). After all, this will also play a role in the designs you choose.
Think of it this way. You wouldn’t use a bathroom design methodology for a living room, would you? Hardwood in a living room can work nicely, but granite tiles? That doesn’t sound relaxing at all.
And if the room you have available is more triangle than square, as an interior designer, you would think very differently about how to make the most of that space.
So, the size and shape of the room will – and should – drive your design decisions. Or, if you have the option of splitting up your environment into rooms, you’ll want to consider how many rooms you want to set up (this can play right into your profitability) and what size they will be.
So-called karaoke boxes or karaoke booths are usually big enough to accommodate six to 10 people, whereas larger public rooms usually hold up to 50 people and sometimes more.
So, if you don’t already know whether you’re going to be setting up karaoke boxes, a larger public venue, or both, you will need to factor this into your design plans. Putting together a floor plan, if you don’t already have one, would be wise.
If you own or are renting a space that you can’t make many changes to, then you’ll want to see if you can set up a stage at the far end of the venue (opposed end of the entrance), again, if there isn’t already a stage. This is usually the most comfortable setup for patrons coming in the door (as opposed to having the stage right next to the entrance).
Of course, unconventional choices are – and sometimes can be – made. For instance, you could set up the stage at the center of the venue, so your patrons can sit around the stage in a circle (square) and the performers can get creative with 360-degree performances.
In an instance like that, your bar would likely occupy the far right side, far left side, or back of the room (since your counter would be a little obscured by the stage, the rear probably wouldn’t be the ideal choice).
Note that converting small, unused spaces into karaoke booths is usually very straightforward. If you have a storage room, cleaning supplies room, smoking cabinet, or other spaces that are currently going unused, you can easily turn them into profit-generating enclosures.
Don’t forget to put some thought into acoustic treatments and soundproofing as well. Maybe you’re thinking about setting up a few karaoke boxes at the sides of your venue while keeping the central space for casual food and drink.
Your patrons in the central space might not enjoy hearing all the sound spill out from the karaoke boxes, which could negatively affect your business.
No matter the setup, in a karaoke venue, you must be thinking about acoustic treatments and/or soundproofing.
- Assess your environment and determine whether you want to set up a central, public stage, private karaoke booths, or both.
- Public stages or environments usually hold around 50 people, while karaoke boxes hold parties of six to 10 people.
- If you’re an unconventional venue, unconventional decisions can be made around the placement of rooms, stages, etc.
- You can easily convert small, unused spaces into karaoke booths to maximize your establishment’s profitability.
- Don’t forget to acoustically treat, soundproof rooms, or both, especially if noise spillover would negatively affect your customer experience.
Brainstorm Design Ideas For Your Rooms
Now that you know how you’re going to be using your space, you’re ready to start thinking about what kind of designs you’re going to be using in your room or rooms.
Of course, it can be hard to come up with workable ideas under pressure. You can’t just tell your staff to “Go design the rooms” and expect them to come up with something great (though they might).
So, the first thing is to consider the vibe of your venue. What are you known for? Is there a specific food or drink item your customers know you for? Do you have a mascot?
If your brand hasn’t been established yet, then these questions may not apply. But it’s never too late to start thinking about the brand you want to create and how you want your patrons to feel when they walk into your venue or how you want to be remembered by them.
If you’re still feeling a little paralyzed in design choices, don’t worry – there are more things to consider.
For instance, why not look up what other karaoke bars have done in their venues? You can find everything from theatrical-style designs to rooms centered on the concept of singing from a hot tub (it’s true).
Here are some other design ideas:
- Home theater-style design complete with comfy La-Z-Boy chairs.
- Vintage lounge-style design with neon lights.
- 70s disco-style design.
- Classy wine room / cigar smoking room style design.
- Strip-club-style design (more common and popular than you might think).
- Modern recording studio style design.
- Classic video game style design (Mario, Link, Mega Man, etc.).
Now, we know that some of these design styles might send you way over budget, so here’s a tip – everything looks better with color-changing lights in dimly lit rooms. It sounds silly, but bar owners will know this fact well.
We could put together an entire section on lighting too, but it should suffice to say that lighting is everything when it comes to creating moods and atmospheres – whether it’s ambient lights, spotlights, LED light strips, or otherwise.
If you do have a bit of a budget, though, then you might consider creating themed rooms, each with a bit of a different feel. This is a good way to keep your customers coming back (“We’ve got to see all the rooms!”).
Summarily, you’ll want to be thinking about:
- Wall hangings
- The use of glass and mirrors
- Consider your venue’s brand and how you can incorporate it into your karaoke spaces. If you don’t know what your brand is yet, define that first.
- Research karaoke room designs. Save the designs you like to your hard drive so you can reference them later.
- Each of your rooms can have its own distinct theme.
- Lighting, wall hangings, seating, tables, stage, furniture, glass doors, mirrors, disco balls, etc. can all set a mood and give your spaces a different vibe.
Don’t Forget About The Equipment
The most beautifully designed rooms aren’t of much use to you if they can’t house your screens, karaoke systems, song catalogs, and the like. In designing your space or room, you must be thinking about how the electronics and equipment are going to fit into the equation.
Everyone knows that visible electrical cords, extension cables, and the like can be distracting, messy, and they can even be tripping hazards. If you cannot completely hide them, then see if you can coil them up, tape them, or both.
Now, let’s look at the equipment you’ll need and what you’ll need to consider in getting your rooms equipped for late-night singing:
- Screens. It can be TVs, projector screens, monitors, or all the above. Chances are you will be outfitting your venue with multiple screens to enhance the overall experience for all your patrons (so they can see the lyrics and accompanying video, if any). While you don’t necessarily need the latest, cutting-edge 84” Ultra HD 4K TVs, you can bet that many new venues are headed in this direction.
- Speakers. Your venue may have a closed-circuit sound system already, in which case you can continue to use what you have. But in case you need speakers for your room(s), you should research quality speakers to get the best sound possible. JBL has some great products.
- Microphones. Think about whether you’re equipping your venue with wired mics, wireless mics, or both. The Shure SM58 is one of the most popular mics for live use – not just for karaoke, but for open mics, live bands, and more.
- Amplifier / mixer. For a karaoke venue, you should not require a sophisticated setup. Look for a four- to six-channel mixer with built-in effects, from the likes of Yamaha, Mackie, or Behringer. If you are thinking about having live bands in to perform at your venue, then you may want to invest in a board with more channels – eight to 12 ought to do the trick. It’s never a bad idea to have added flexibility.
- Cables / adapters. Most of the gear you purchase should come with the necessary power cables, connectors, etc. Likely you will need to purchase XLR cables for your mixer though. Don’t worry – if you’re purchasing at a local music instrument retailer, the staff should be able to help you identify what you need and how many.
- Karaoke machines. Karaoke machines have come a long way, and modern solutions are no longer heavy or bulky. I bet your inner designer just took a sigh of relief.
- You can’t run a karaoke establishment without the right equipment, and you will need to fit equipment requirements into your design ideas.
- Tame the cable mess. Hide it, tape it, contain it. At a minimum, do what you can to ensure your cables aren’t tripping hazards. If you’re design-conscious, you’re probably thinking ahead on this anyway.
- Get the necessary equipment listed above. If you already have what you need, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you’ve got some more purchases to make, even if just to augment your current equipment.
Manage Your Budget
We’ve talked a lot about how to set up your spaces, design ideas, and the equipment you will require. Of course, all this costs money.
If you have a venue that’s set up perfectly for what you had in mind, you’re very lucky. Most will need to think about putting in a stage, building rooms, setting up a front counter or bar, or some combination thereof. This costs money.
Then you have room furnishings. Whether it’s seating, tables, lighting, fixtures, wall hangings, or otherwise. These items can add up.
Of course, screens, karaoke systems, and sound systems all cost something too.
You’ll require roughly $1,300 to $2,600 just to get started, and that’s only for karaoke equipment and essential remodeling tasks. Some venues spend $50,000 and up to get the perfect setup and atmosphere.
This, of course, is not unusual for businesses in the food and drink or entertainment industry. Nevertheless, you’d better have good marketing resources, secondary sources of cash, or a hungry and waiting clientele list if you’re going to commit to a greater expense.
Most karaoke establishments are charging about $40 to $130 per hour, and of course, food and drink are extra. If you’re clever, you should be able to figure out additional revenue sources for your business.
But this gives you a good idea of what to expect as well as how to budget for your expenses. And it also goes to demonstrate why the karaoke box model is a very viable business (because you’ll have multiple rooms to book out).
- Making changes to your space, remodeling, building rooms, furnishings, lighting, and karaoke equipment all cost money.
- You can easily spend from $1,300 to $50,000 and more depending on how you’re looking to set up your space and the atmosphere you want to create.
- You can charge about $40 to $130 per hour for a karaoke booth, separate from food and drink sales. Other sources of revenue could include VLTs (get creative!).
Take Inspiration From The Best
If you don’t know what your brand is…
If you don’t know what makes your venue unique or cool…
If you can’t find anyone creative on your team with cool ideas…
Well, don’t beat yourself up. You can hire a consultant. Or you can always take inspiration from the best venues out there, which will save you from additional expenses and having to reinvent the wheel.
One of the smartest things Walt Disney ever did was draw inspiration from already successful concepts. He wasn’t a genius at coming up with new things necessarily. He was a genius at noticing what worked and appropriating it for his ventures. You can do the same.
Some of the coolest, most popular, and most unique karaoke centers across the world include:
- The Highball – Austin, TX
- Sid Gold’s Request Room – New York, NY
- Gagopa Karaoke – New York, NY
- Cat’s Meow – New Orleans, LA
- The Mint Karaoke Lounge – San Francisco, CA
- Palm Tree LA – Los Angeles, CA
- Source Below – London, England
- Lovenet – Tokyo, Japan
- Karaoke Kan – Tokyo, Japan
- Every Sing – Seoul, South Korea
- Yanpen Karaoke Lounge – Moscow, Russia
Of course, you can do your own research and see what you come up with too.
While I’m not saying you should outright copy the karaoke establishments that are out there, it’s well worth exploring what’s working at other venues and incorporating these elements into your venue.
- It can be difficult to come up with great design ideas, especially if you don’t have a brand, don’t know what makes your venue cool, or don’t have anyone creative on staff.
- Taking inspiration from the best venues gives you the opportunity to adopt working models without having to reinvent the wheel.
- Research the successful karaoke establishments taking special note of what they’re doing well. Consider incorporating these elements into your venue.
How To Make A Karaoke Room, Final Thoughts
At the end of the day, setting up a karaoke venue is about as easy or as hard as you make it.
If you have a big budget and don’t mind spending to create a mind-blowing high-class experience, you can do that.
If you have a small budget but a willing staff and a lot of great, scrappy ideas, you can go in that direction too.
The most important thing is you know your options. That makes the process of designing your establishment much easier.