Karaoke site unites locals

Karaoke singing has made average Joes into bar superstars since its creation in the 1970s. Invented in Japan, karaoke has become an entertainment staple of American bars and parties. Lately, it has appeared in our video games, car stereos and even mobile phones. The latest medium to accommodate amateur singers is, not surprisingly, the Internet.

SingSnap.com is one of dozens of online singing communities that allows users to participate in karaoke from the comfort of their homes. Chris Platz, a 44-year-old member from Tampa, began using SingSnap in January.

“I don’t consider myself a good singer, but I’ve always enjoyed music,” he said. “When I first got involved with the site it was actually because my friends were doing it. I shared my first songs with them, and it encourages you.”

Platz described a few of SingSnap’s most commonly used features.

“The first time I sang live was in the chat room. I spend almost every evening there,” he said. “The chat is similar to live Internet chats and has video capabilities. There’s an admin running the list of songs and you wait your turn to sing.”

The site’s software also includes the ability to record duets.

“You can sing duets if there’s a karaoke version done for duets. The words are colored differently for each singer. For the man they’re blue and for the woman they’re pink,” Platz said.

Though karaoke is commonly found at venues near college campuses, the online karaoke trend has yet to catch on at USF. Amanda Okolo, a 22-year-old senior at USF, enjoys karaoke but hadn’t heard of online singing communities like SingSnap.

“I like to sing live and I also record my singing on YouTube,” she said. “I would be interested in online karaoke because I do have difficulty finding backing tracks for songs I want to sing.”

SingSnap allows users to record audio and video to go along with prerecorded backing tracks for its library of songs. Platz recently recorded more than 200 songs on the site. His only complaint is about the site’s song selection.

“They don’t have enough of the fairly new stuff that I’d like to see,” he said. “But the site has a catalog of somewhere around 15,000 songs and the site tells you how many songs are added every day.”

Alisa Goldie, 27, has been singing karaoke for six years and admitted that SingSnap is an addictive hobby.

“I love to sing and I love being the center of attention,” she said. “SingSnap is a very close-knit community and I love the live singing in the chat rooms.”

Goldie says she has made great friends on the Web site, including Erin Purvis from Illinois, who flew to Florida to sing with Goldie and Platz at Bobalouie’s Grille and Sports Garden in Tampa on Saturday night.

Goldie and Purvis were all smiles when they joined Platz for the SingSnap reunion.

Purvis followed Platz, who began the karaoke for the evening. “This is only my third time singing karaoke in front of people,” she said. “SingSnap really helps me to become more confident.” Purvis has recorded 47 songs on the site since becoming a member in October.

“I enjoy the challenge and I like to express myself through singing. It’s a great rush,” Purvis said.