New must get time to show its worth


in­side malls and su­per­mar­kets in some Chi­nese cities are not re­quired to ob­tain the li­censes that ap­ply to tra­di­tional karaoke venues, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent no­tice is­sued by the Min­istry of Culture. Thep­a­ com­mented on Wed­nes­day:

By not in­clud­ing the mini karaoke booths among “en­ter­tain­ment prop­er­ties”, the Min­istry of Culture has made it clear that it is tol­er­ant of young­sters war­bling an af­ter-school song or two in the pay-as-you-go booths. It even spec­i­fies in its no­tice that teenagers’ right to sing should be re­spected.

Ac­cord­ing to the no­tice, those oper­at­ing the karaoke booths only have to reg­is­ter them with the lo­cal cul­tural af­fairs au­thor­i­ties in­stead of ap­ply­ing for en­ter­tain­ment li­censes. Which is right, as the booths, which house a karaoke ma­chine with a touch screen, two bar stools, two pairs of head­sets and two mi­cro­phones, do not re­sem­ble mini karaoke bars. Pay­ments can be made via a smart­phone and the record­ings sent to users, who are free to share their voices via so­cial me­dia.

The min­istry’s ap­proach to the man­age­ment of new busi­ness mod­els such as karaoke booths is

praise­wor­thy. Trans­par­ent and mall-based, the tiny booths carry lit­tle risk of ac­com­mo­dat­ing ob­scen­ity, drug ex­changes and other se­cu­rity haz­ards, which are not un­com­mon in tra­di­tional karaoke bars. Par­ents of young chil­dren will feel more at ease if their kids use the booths.

In fact, the emer­gence of singing booths in Chi­nese malls and mar­kets is an ex­am­ple of a new payas-you-go en­ter­tain­ment model, which the au­thor­i­ties should keep an open mind to, as Premier Li Ke­qiang said at a July con­fer­ence.

New things do have their down­sides, but they can also in­ject fresh mo­men­tum into ur­ban gov­er­nance if ef­fec­tively man­aged and given proper guid­ance. Sta­tion-less shared bikes, for in­stance, have proved their worth to users, de­spite their de­sign flaws and the strug­gle to avoid dis­or­derly park­ing. In­no­va­tion at­tempts like th­ese should not be sti­fled so long as they are ben­e­fit­ing rather than dam­ag­ing so­ci­ety.

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