Karaoke, the classic Hong Kong pastime, is getting a face-lift. Since karaoke’s heyday in the 1990s, four major Hong Kong chains have been whittled down to one: Neway Karaoke Box, which has more than 90% market share in the city after it acquired its final rival, California Red, last March. The percentage of Hong Kong consumers going to karaoke at least once a month has also decreased about 2% in the past two years, according to a 2010 report from global marketing research company Synovate.
Yet Red MR, a new karaoke franchise by BMA Investment, a local entertainment company that also owns a record label, is hoping to break into the market and revive the activity. (Though Red MR sports a “red” in the name, it has no connection with the previous California Red franchise.) The company is investing 300 million Hong Kong dollars (US$38.5 million) in 10 high-tech karaoke outlets throughout Hong Kong, aiming to appeal to an international, upmarket crowd with new gadgets and more international songs.
Red MR opened its first 31-room branch (with seven VIP rooms), featuring touch-screen tables and virtual dance games, in December in Causeway Bay. A week later, it opened a branch in Tsim Sha Tsui. Red MR’s next outlet, in Wanchai, is set to open in late April or May. Neway has 17 karaoke branches scattered throughout Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories.
Here is “Material Girl” by Madonna. You can practice at home before you hit the stage on Karaoke Night!