Mu­sic at small booths proves big money-spin­ner

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSI­NESS -

CHANGCHUN — In a small, en­closed booth, with lights, speak­ers and mi­cro­phones, any­one can be a singing su­per­star!

In China, mini karaoke or KTV booths are tak­ing the coun­try by storm. The sound-proofed KTV booth is typ­i­cally equipped with an air-con­di­tioner, a cou­ple of chairs and head­sets. You pay a fee, put on the head­set, close the cur­tain and sing your lungs out.

Mini KTVs are ev­ery­where: shop­ping malls, cin­e­mas, sub­way sta­tions. They have a sim­i­lar func­tion to tra­di­tional karaoke, but in a more in­ti­mate en­vi­ron­ment.

“No mat­ter how good or bad I sing, no­body can judge me, and I can just have my mo­ment,” said Li Rui from Changchun, cap­i­tal of North­east China’s Jilin prov­ince.

Li said that in tra­di­tional KTVs, you have to re­serve rooms in ad­vance and there are al­ways “ex­tra charges” such as bev­er­ages and fruit.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search com­pany iiMe­dia, the value of the mini KTV mar­ket in China will hit 3.18 bil­lion yuan ($473 mil­lion) this year, al­most twice as much as last year. And the mar­ket is ex­pected to dou­ble again in 2018.

For many ur­ban­ites, singing is just a way of re­liev­ing stress.

“In the past, host­ing a party at a KTV meant you had to in­vite a lot of peo­ple, set up a date when ev­ery­body was free and book a room, which was not so easy,” said Ma Yan, a mu­sic fan. “But with mini KTV booths, ev­ery­thing is easy.”

An­other rea­son be­hind the mini KTV fer­vor is the joy of shar­ing.

“Most mini KTVs al­low you to record your­self and up­load, so I can share the record­ing on WeChat and get a lot of ‘likes’ from friends,” said Guo Hanyu of Shenyang, Liaon­ing prov­ince.

Liu Wei, a pro­fes­sor with Jilin Uni­ver­sity, said that the

Prices of mini KTV booths range from about 10,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan. If a ma­chine runs 12 hours per day at 60 yuan an hour, cost is re­couped in about a month.

mini KTVs put the user in con­trol, which makes the process “a lot more fun and per­sonal”.

The in­ter­est has drawn a lot of in­vestors. Prices of mini KTV booths range from about 10,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan.

If a ma­chine runs 12 hours per day at 60 yuan an hour, cost is re­couped in about a month. How­ever, the re­al­ity is more com­pli­cated.

Be­sides cost, op­er­a­tors also have to pay fees to own­ers of the venues such as shop­ping malls and cin­e­mas, but so far, at least 20,000 mini KTVs are in oper­a­tion.

“Dur­ing the rush hours, cus­tomers have to wait in line,” said a mem­ber of staff with Changchun Ouya New Life shop­ping mall in Changchun. “The ma­chines are mostly used by young peo­ple and they are cleaned ev­ery day.”

The govern­ment has caught wind of the ma­chines. In a cir­cu­lar is­sued by the Min­istry of Cul­ture, author­i­ties asked lo­cal de­part­ments of cul­tural man­age­ment to strengthen su­per­vi­sion on the mini KTVs to avoid ju­ve­nile ad­dic­tion.

“De­mand drives devel­op­ment,” said Liu Wei. “We should give new things enough space to de­velop, and al­low it to evolve with the mar­ket.”

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