Mini karaoke booths in vogue in China

At least 20,000 mini karaoke booths operate throughout the country. Source: Shutterstock

A NEW trend is sweeping across China – mini karaoke booths in supermarkets, theaters and even subway stations.

Much like traditional karaoke bars, the booths come equipped with an air conditioner, seats, microphones and headsets.

What sets the two apart, though, is that the booths are more accessible and set in a smaller, more “intimate” environment.

The South China Morning Post, citing state-run Xinhua news agency, reported at least 20,000 mini karaoke booths currently operating throughout the country with a research company projecting the market value of the trend to hit CNY3.18 billion (US$470 million) this year.

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To activate the booths, karaoke-goers simply pay by scanning a 2D-bar code, or a QR code, via their mobile phones.

While the booths are smaller than regular karaoke outlets, charges for the songs vary and are reportedly higher. One booth in Beijing charges CNY58 (US$8.6) per hour, equivalent to three hours at a regular karaoke bar.

Optionally, the mini-karaoke booths can be rented on an hourly basis or by the number of songs.

“No matter how good or bad I sing, nobody can judge me, and I can just have my moment,” Li Rui, from the city of Changchun, Jilin province, was quoted as saying.

The advantage of the booths, according to Li, is that customers would not have to reserve rooms in advance or be served food and beverages, which would incur extra charges.

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Another karaoke enthusiast, Ma Yan said: “In the past, hosting a party in 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. But with mini KTV booths, everything is easy.”

For other users, the mini karaoke booths lack privacy. “You have concerns while you’re singing as you’re afraid other people outside are watching,” one user was quoted as saying.