How to use Zoom for music and karaoke

Sing Your heart Out karaoke Show

Everyone likes a party. Here’s how to use Zoom for music and karaoke even in socially distant parties.

You may ask yourself, “How do you use Zoom for music and karaoke.” After all, the nice folks at Zoom will tell you Zoom is used for business meetings and simple communication. Even with the limitations of the free level (which may change soon), the most basic Zoom subscription will handle music and karaoke. This means if you are wanting to host a party remotely, you can, if you are a DJ or a KJ (karaoke jockey), this could be a game changer for you. Upscale Event Productions and other companies like The Tiny Cupboard provide online karaoke parties, you can too.

Basic Requirements:

  1. You need to have at least the basic Zoom subscription. This allows you to avoid the time limit (from a free subscription) on your party (meeting). You can have up to 100 attendees, but in the interest of bandwidth, you may want to have some or most of them turn off their video. If you share your screen, this will help force the participant’s video stream to a thumbnail, which helps (more on specific settings later).
  2. You need to have a sizeable pipe for an internet connection. We had Comcast which touted gigabyte speed, but honestly, it wasn’t what was advertised in our experience. While the download speed was impressive (but never claim close to the claim), the upload speed was abysmal at best, never topping 40 Mps. Ironically, our karaoke files were only 5 Mb, but it ran choppy at best, and lackluster for any level of performance. We had invested several hours troubleshooting and when we went to Earthlink, the problem was solved, it had true gigabyte speed on the download and upload side. Our recommendation is to try out the provider at a friend’s home or office before committing.
  3. Music or karaoke content to play. This can be a preset play list or you may choose to run requests from your audience. We had a preset playlist, but we respond to requests as they come.

Do I need a subscription?

You may ask yourself, “I don’t want to have the expense of a Zoom account for the occasional, infrequent event with my friends.” There are alternatives, such as Google Hangouts, Google Meet or Watch2Gether (this is a free option, but Watch2Gether (w2g.tv) is limited to 10 participants).

I have personally communicated back in forth with Florian, the Watch2Gether developer and his team are very responsive to emails and requests, especially since it is a free product. We will be doing reviews on Google Meet, MS Teams, and other products soon, so be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

Content

You may be one of the fortunate few that already has a sizeable music or karaoke library. If you want to use Zoom for music or karaoke, you will need to have a source of content to play. Of course you could choose to play individual YouTube.com videos, but that would be far from ideal.

karafun karaoke screens

We would suggest a product we use, Karafun (karafun.com). This has several subscription tiers and the most basic ($9.99/mo.) gives you access to over 39,000 studio-quality karaoke songs. There is a 2-day party pass for 5.99 giving you access to the same library of songs. It also touts features like adding the singer name to each song’s open screen, adjusting music/vocals levels and creating playlists. You can add songs to a queue to automate some the work and there is a mobile app allowing you to control Karafun without having to hover over your keyboard. We use the projector feature to send the guest-facing songs on a second monitor. Then we share the second screen. This allows us to queue up songs, take requests on the first “back of house” screen.

Procedures like setting up a custom waiting room screen and sending invitations from Zoom will the topic of future articles.

Zoom Settings

After you have all the requirements listed above you are now ready to set up Zoom for music and karaoke.

First Things First

  1. Reboot your PC or MAC. While this sounds basic, just do it to start fresh and you won’t have to worry about some process running in the background you didn’t remember to shut down. This can’t be stressed enough to give Zoom and your content the most horsepower for entertainment. There are few steps from here, but many of the settings will stay after they are set (but it is always wise to check them before the guests show up).
zoom startup screen
Zoom startup screen

Audio Settings

  1. Login to Zoom and start a test meeting. At this point, it probably will only be you. This is a practice run so when the real party starts, you won’t be fumbling for settings in front of guests. This is the trick to looking professional.
zoom audio settings menu
  1. In the lower left corner is a microphone icon with a ^ (caret) next to it. Click the caret and select Audio Settings…
turn on original sound
  1. From here make sure the Show in-meeting option to “Turn On Original Sound” checkbox is checked. This is the single most important setting. This allow the music and singers to perform together, otherwise one will mute the other. You will see Turn On Original Sound in a red box in the upper left portion of your Zoom meeting screen. You will want to click this when you start your meeting.
  2. Click the Advanced button.
set echo cancellation to auto
  1. Make sure Auto (not Aggressive) is selected for Echo Cancellation. Close this window.

Screen Sharing

share the screen and check both checkboxes at the bottom
  1. Start Sharing your screen (see the notes above about using a second screen with Karafun). Click the Share icon in the center of the lower edge of your Zoom screen.
  2. You will need to click BOTH the Share sound checkbox and the optimize for video clip checkbox. Select the screen you want to share (with the content).
  3. That’s it. You are now ready to party with your friends.

Summary

We hope you now know how to use Zoom for music and karaoke. We are certified virtual event planners and can help you with shifting your brick and mortar events to virtual platforms. Just think of the possibilities for fundraisers, product demos, conferences and more that are now possible on virtual platforms. We are fluent in products such as:

  • Zoom
  • Skype
  • MS Teams
  • Google Meet
  • Facebook Rooms
  • And more…

See our article on Virtual Meeting Consulting to see how we can help you prepare and deliver a professional meeting online. Give us a call today to schedule a no-cost 30-Minute Discovery Session to see how we can help you elevate your brand and professional image.