Florida is an amazing state for Karaoke. I love writing about different topics pertaining to this intoning interest every month, as well as my observations & experiences with karaoke shows in South Florida particularly. Karaokefortlauderdale.com is a wonderful website for pinpointing the perfect place to practice your pitch. Then again, Florida does not have a music monopoly on this entertaining hobby. Karaoke is a world-wide phenomenon that needs a website that covers more than Broward County. We recently discovered karaokeacrossamerica.com, which contains comprehensive listings nationwide. This incredibly informative site lets you search for shows AND specific KJ’s as well as adding a show to the already ample list. It also contains a sweeping site map for users to click on any state and city to find a show. There is also a blog section and a community forum to post questions and answers about karaoke. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Steve Hess, the creator of karaokeacrossamerica.com. He shed some light on what the site is about and what it does for this humbling hobby. CS: Are you the creator of the website ‘karaokeacrossamerica.com’? What does your particular job and/or position with the website involve? SH: Yes, I am the creator and the sole person behind this website. My position is webmaster, troubleshooter, creator of content, helper and whatever else needs to be done! CS: How long has this website been up and running? SH: This site has been running in one form or another since about 1996. It started as a “Florida only” directory back in the day (floridakaraoke.com) because I couldn’t find karaoke shows myself! It has been national since about 2008-2009 and I am regularly adding new features and content so stay tuned! CS: Do you have regular contributors or is it mostly information that is submitted by yourself & users? SH: This is changing. Traditionally I have done it all myself. I still add about 90% of the show submissions. However, I am steadily getting more show submissions from users and I am arranging for some bloggers currently. I share many links via my site and my Facebook groups and appreciate appropriate contributions from other folks in the karaoke world as well! CS: In addition to submissions, do you also collect data from other karaoke related websites? Is it difficult to keep track of such an intensive compilation of information? SH: I “collect” data from many sources including sometimes websites if they are primary sources. Many KJ’s and venues have websites that have karaoke shows listed. Those are fair game. Although I do want to have comprehensive listings, I am more concerned with accuracy than volume. I’m not suggesting there are never errors on my site….karaoke is too fickle……but I don’t add new venues unless I can confirm them via a primary source, phone or direct confirmation from someone. I also monitor the same groups I get the show information from to find cancellations as well. Yes, it is very difficult to maintain all this info. If I didn’t have a passion for it, I would have been long gone! CS: What made you realize that there was a need for such a comprehensive & national listing of karaoke show information? SH: Well, when I started this there was no other national resource like it and I wanted to find karaoke shows to go to, that’s the primary reason. I travel a decent amount for business so that’s one of the ways I found data for states other than Florida as well by collecting business cards, websites, etc.. The internet wasn’t like it is today. It was pathetic how little information was available! I am a geek..ish so I started a website to do this…….the rest is history! CS: Are you a karaoke participant, fan or are you a jockey? SH: I am a participant and a fan but never a karaoke jockey. I got
started the way most people do: exercising their inner rock star…..usually under the influence of considerable alcohol! Traveling a lot also allowed me to experience what folks were doing in other parts of the country when it came so show/KJ style, genre, etc. I was surprised that some folks in midtown Manhattan were country fans for example! CS: What sets your site apart from other karaoke websites? SH: Wow……I think that the major thing is that I CARE about spreading the karaoke gospel! This translates into unbiased information that is as complete as someone can make it without sacrificing quality! I also want to offer something more to people than just a directory….I want them to be able to use my site as a one-stop, karaoke portal. I maintain a link database, a forum and a Facebook-like community that is ONLY karaoke! I have been doing this out of pocket for 17 years…..I will never charge people for listing their shows in the directory and I think I’ve proven I’m in it for the long haul! CS: What information do you provide that is not readily available on most sites? SH: Something that I think most would be surprised I have is information about my “competition”! If you go to my “links” pages you will find links to other karaoke directories. Karaoke is a community. My feeling is that it should be all about getting karaoke information out to people. Information should not be about one-upmanship. CS: What does the future hold for karaokeacrossamerica.com? Would you expand to a second website to include international karaoke information? SH: I would like to think that KAA can become more ingrained in the karaoke psyche than it is. There is so much noise out there that’s it’s hard to find any comprehensive, unbiased source of information. I have been asked about going international before. I don’t have a clear answer, but I like the idea of it. There are many problems with logistics when you go “international”. It’s enough work just to do the USA, but if you know of someone in a foreign country that can maintain a site for that, let me know! I’m open to the idea!