Bleary eyed, vocally numb, and partially deaf, we emerged from Korean karaoke bliss in the early hours.
I’ve done my share of karaoke over the years but never have I been privy to the cozy confines of Koreatown’s fabulous karaoke rooms (aka noraebangs). In the past, we hit a karaoke DVD or two at a friend’s party and perused the massive but somehow lacking song books at loud, smoke-filled karaoke bars. So, I was totally overwhelmed by the sheer volume of songs available on a whim in K-town — English, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Latin, Indonesian, and beyond. We’re talking everything from Free Bird to Shimauta to Ludacris’ greatest hits. We hit it all, tambourines in hand. And my hands have calluses to prove it.
Aside from fantastic friends and great atmosphere, then, what really made the night special was access to nearly unlimited music for just a few hours (50,000 Japanese songs alone). That got me thinking: While Steve Jobs clearly has a point that people want to own their music (85% market share can’t be wrong), the same may not hold true in gaming.
Recently, for instance, Karaoke Revolution creators Harmonix started selling song packs for Guitar Hero 2. You buy it, you own it, but only 3 songs at a time and you can’t pick and choose. While it’s a cool idea (and one I’ve been dying for since Frequency), this is one place where subscription could do better. That’s because on karaoke night having bunches of songs at your fingertips for an evening beats the shit out of owning a few songs forever. Variety bests longevity. Of course, licensing fees, bandwidth, and content creation cost are issues here. Still, I’d pay a nice sum to get a few hours with a library of downloadable songs for a Karaoke Revolution party, or even a monthly fee to have that access always. Would you?