A long, long time ago in a state far, far away......a guy was newly single in a new town and was looking for stuff to do. It was the mid-90's and he moved from the Treasure Coast of Florida down to the big city.....Miami/Fort Lauderdale. Where to go???
OK, enough with this third person crap. Don't you hate it when you read on websites about how "he then found he was sought after by major record labels…" and garbage like that? I do. Unless someone really is famous and has a press secretary, we all know it's that person (or their mom) writing their own self-indulgent "about me" blurb. Therefore, I’ll admit up front that this may be self-indulgent, but I least I admit I wrote it! Jeeesh...
So.......here it goes:
I'm a karaoke fan who lives in the Dallas, TX area. I have been doing this site (or some form of it) since 1996. I also really did move to the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area in Florida in 1995 and didn't know a soul. I knew that I liked to sing and had been to karaoke a few times before. Where could I do that? I was in the big city now and figured there must be karaoke all over the place! I did find a karaoke store called "Sing-a-Song" (now closed) down in Hollywood, FL. It was cool to go in there and see all the newest stuff. Those were the days....Luke & LeRon always made me feel at home. I also figured it must be a hub for karaoke show information, right? Well, if you wanted to know about which disk had your favorite song, it was great! If you wanted to know where to use your shiny new disks...not so great. There was a bulletin board on the wall that local folks had pinned flyers to advertising their shows. In other words, you had to go TO the store and see the handful of flyers to find karaoke shows there. My search was on.
I lived there in Hollywood at the time so the first karaoke place I actually found was Dave & Buster’s just a few miles away. That could have possibly been the best place for karaoke ever in the entire universe! They have those great show rooms with a tiered audience area, great acoustics and a real stage with a huge screen behind you when you were singing. It was an actual dinner theater! The host was pretty fun. They didn't have a great library (laser disks only) but I had a blast! Pretty much every Friday after work I headed to D&B for karaoke night. I met a few "nameless to protect the innocent" souls that shared my love of karaoke and our paths intertwined for years.
Of course after a while I wanted to find some shows to sing at other nights of the week and that’s when the networking started. You get to know people who know where other shows are and you check them out…and meet more people who know where other shows are. Pretty soon you have a circle of places that you know of for karaoke. You get to know the hosts. You get to know what places are good and bad…who has good sound…good libraries…you know where I’m going. I met a lot of local KJ's! Pretty soon though, it becomes like your collection of CD’s. You start losing track of what you have and don’t have. I started looking for a way to track it all as I was pretty damn addicted at that point!
The very first website was one of those ~ sites hosted as a personal page on my ISP’s server. Remember those? The "www.ispname.com/~steve" kind of sites? That’s what I had. I wasn’t a developer. I didn’t know web programming. I was a geek. I was Microsoft certified for cripes sake, but I fixed busted computers. Programming was something geniuses did! I worked part time at CompUSA in Miami for a while and some high school kid who worked there knew HTML and I thought he was a god. I used to pick his brain because I figured if I did I’d learn what he knew. In reality he was only about one study guide ahead of me, but I was bitten. I needed a REAL website!
Probably about 1996-1997ish I first bought the domain floridakaraoke.com. I started playing with web pages using whatever free web design tools I could find. Mostly Netscape Composer or Frontpage. At first it was simple and I basically copied the few dozen shows from the old ~ site over to the new domain. The main difference was that it was MY domain. I could move it from provider to provider. I could do whatever I wanted with it. After a couple years my scumbag, overseas registrar started playing games with my ownership of the domain and held it hostage for a while. Eventually I won the name back and renewed the site. It has been steadily mine ever since.
After about 10 years of that, I started work on the next phase of development. The site had really taken off and the volume of data became too big to keep up with on demand. I have a day job after all! Also, I wanted to take it beyond Florida. The scene was changing. If I was going to continue my goal of spreading the karaoke gospel, I needed to think bigger. No longer was it Sing-a-Song where everyone in South Florida bought their disks. The internet was taking over. State lines were becoming less relevant as mail order became the dominant place to get karaoke. I needed to roll with it. Around 2007-2008 I started on a dynamic site that could contain much more data and display it in a FAR more manageable way. The early trials were not so successful. I couldn’t find the right combination of technology and reliability to get the job done. Of course that was all happening in the background, time permitting. I still had the real site plugging along as usual. Finally the summer/fall of 2009 I found the right combination of stuff and karaoke-america.com was born. I spent the better part of 2009 designing, tweaking, redesigning, transferring data, fixing and making it prettier. That process will never be done. Karaoke-america.com *actually* went live around Labor Day 2009 and I officially forwarded floridakaraoke.com to the new site.
In 2010 I started thinking seriously about the next version of this site. After months of toiling, there it was......KaraokeAcrossAmerica.com! It has changed in look a couple times since this domain took over, but I always hope it provides reliable and helpful karaoke information for all!
Please feel free to contact me about suggestions, improvements or criticisms. That’s how this works. I look at this like a community. I have had plenty of folks email me offline to share their “opinions” of what I’m doing here. I have thick skin and want to know what you think! Bring it on!