Highlighting JAPAN Vol.121 June 2018

MICROPHONE, lyrics, melody—the key NOAM KATZKaraoke box ©DAIICHIKOSHO CO., LTDKaraoke has clearly come a long way, yet this new form of entertainment did not emerge overnight. According to Shiro Kataoka, the managing director of the All-Japan Karaoke Industrialist Association, it was a logical advancement in the world of entertainment following key developments in audio technology. Toshiharu Yamashita, the founder of Taiyo Record, started selling eight-track* accompaniment elements for karaoke are simple enough. But in just half a century karaoke has become a ubiquitous part of Japanese culture and morphed into a high-tech industry with global presence. Indeed, the word “karaoke”—a compound of the Japanese words kara, or “empty,” and oke, or “orchestra”—has been adopted into English and other languages around the globe. tapes in 1970– the first “karaoke software,” so to speak. Japanese musician Daisuke Inoue then incorporated these accompaniment tapes when he invented the first karaoke machine “8JUKE” in 1971. Karaoke started as a primitive system that combined microphones with an eight-track cassette player, Inoue’s device stocked ten cassettes for a total of forty songs. He rented this out to bars and clubs, which in turn charged customers 100 yen (about 330 yen in 2018, US$3) per song, and the karaoke industry was born. Kataoka says bars quickly adopted karaoke systems after discovering they offered a winning combination: an additional income stream while reducing staff.Sophisticated as it was, karaoke still made aficionados rely on lyrics printed in special books. 28The advent of karaoke was a timely fusion of technological developments in hardware and software that enabled the public to experience the thrill of performing their favorite songs in a fully immersive way.THE RISE OF KARAOKE

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