To illustrate my point let’s say you have been hosting a weekly karaoke show at XYZ bar and the owner(s) approach you and want to run a contest. Before we get into that lets look at the bigger picture….
You host the weekly karaoke shows and have built a pretty good following up to this point. You have your regulars that come visit your show week in/week out and they drop a some cash in the bar, that helps pay for your karaoke show. The general attitude towards you and the bar are great and people are happy.
So you let everyone know you are going to do a karaoke contest and the prize is a a dollar amount. (It doesn’t really matter what the prize is but let’s say $500.)
The first thing that happens is the excitement builds. The customers get excited because they start picturing what they can do with that $500. Word of mouth begins to spread and really good singers that you have never seen in the establishment come in for the night of the contest.
The contest begins…be it several weeks, one night, it doesn’t matter pick a format.
The singers begin competing and the bar agrees to provide the judges. If the judges are anyone that is associated with the bar (manager, owner, wait staff, bartenders, etc..), your potential new customers (the really good singers that are visiting for the first time) immediately think the contest is rigged. You need to think about the qualifications of the judges. Do they have any experience judging singing competitions? If so, what qualifies them? Are they a retired professional singer, have had formal singing training, etc… I have witnessed numerous contests run this way. The judges have no business being a judge, and in the end it is more than likely one of the bar regulars will be chosen the winner.
Those new singers feel cheated and leave with a bad taste in their mouth. Your company hosted the competition and because you were associated with the bar…. those same singers begin to bad mouth you to the local karaoke community. You have just become labeled a homer.
Now let’s say you bring in judges that have nothing to do with the bar….Lead Singers from a Band, Radio personalities, Local Celebrities, etc…
The first question that runs through your contestants minds, again are what qualifications do these judges have, and how are they qualified to judge a singing competition. You cross that hurdle and maybe the judges get up and perform during breaks and keep the crowd entertained. So everything appears to be going great. Except, as the night continues and you have singers that just want to sing karaoke, but can’t because you are running a contest.
You have to have some kind of elimination round to get to your final contestants, all the while you will have to listen to other singers complain about how so and so doesn’t deserve to be there because they aren’t the best singer, etc…
So you get to the end of the competition and it comes down between a new karaoke singer that has never been to the XYZ Bar before, He/She could get a record deal today if Recording Agents were there. You may have seen this type of singer at some of the shows you have been to….
Anyway, they are up against a regular customer from the bar that is “King/Queen karaoke singer of XYZ bar” They have a good voice but it is obvious they are nowhere near as good as the other contestant.
So the question comes down to who wins…. If I keep it fair and choose the best singer, which makes the regular singer mad. There is a high possibility they storm out of the place with their friends and cost the owner some business which then puts my weekly karaoke job in jeopardy.
Do I choose my regular and make the other singer mad, who now feels cheated and then face the backlash and being labeled as someone who only caters to favorites?
Either way it is a losing position to be in. It is the biggest reason I try to stay away from contests.
However, there are times when a contest is okay. If you are in a new place and trying to build business for the bar then a contest might not be a bad idea, but if you are well established in a venue steer clear.
~ kman – What are your thoughts?