Frequently Asked Questions

Karaoke Etiquette

Questions about karaoke in general

Can I change my song?

Sure! We want you to be the best you can be! Just let us know a couple songs before you’re supposed to sing so we have the time to set things up and download tracks if necessary. No harm, no foul!

Even if you get up to the stage and panic, we can fix it for you! Just let us know you want to sing something else and we’ll let the next person go so we can update the list and you can get a chance to get yourself together. It’s no problem, we promise!

I want to sing backup!

Woo hoo! Karaoke is better with friends! We’ve got multiple microphones to make that happen. But make sure you get permission from whoever’s singing first: we won’t turn on the microphone unless they give us the thumbs-up.

(Also, if they’re already rocking, don’t demand they give you the thumbs-up. Let them be awesome.)

Wait, someone already sang my song? Who cares?

Great minds think alike! But yeah, we won’t play the same song twice in a night. Some hosts do! We’re not them. When you sing a song someone else has already sung it invariably becomes a competition, and we are very much not about that. With thousands and thousands of other songs, we’re happy to help you pick an even better alternative, though!

I can’t hear myself on the microphone!

Ooh! This is a good one! Our hosts set the microphone volume every song every time based on the room, karaoke track, and how you’re holding the mic. But it’s totally fine to get your host’s attention and ask them politely to turn your voice up, too.

That said, if we’re not cranking the volume, it’s almost always because we’re worried about feedback, and that’s often because the singer is unwittingly doing something strange with the microphone. Here are some tips for perfect technique:

  • Hold the microphone within three inches of your mouth. Really! The farther away you hold it, the more your host has to amplify it and the more likely you’ll hear nasty feedback.
  • Point the microphone directly at your face. Microphones are designed to pick up sound in a very specific region, so if you sing into the side of the mic, we won’t hear it unless we boost the sound, and that can cause feedback.
  • Don’t cover/cradle/hold the head of the microphone. This is a big one that has become super common! Again, any time you block the microphone’s natural pickup, you’re blocking sound and risking feedback. Your favorite pop stars can hold the microphone in wacky ways because they’re usually lip-syncing!

Please do not. Our equipment is made to be replaceable, but it’s not invulnerable. If you screw up our stuff you’re going to ruin the night for everyone.

Ugh. This singer sucks.

Maybe! Still, shut up about it. It takes courage just to show up and sing, so they automatically get our love! Pop Up Karaoke performances are not open mics: karaoke is about entertaining, not being the next contestant on The Voice. If you can’t have fun watching other people have fun, our shows are probably not the right place for you.

By the way: NO BOOING. Even if you’re booing a friend (and honestly, why would you do that?!) we’re going to ask you to knock it off. The second time we’ll ask you to leave. We don’t know the difference between you heckling a friend and heckling a stranger, so don’t make it weird. Plus, it makes people outside of your circle worried that you might boo them. So don’t do it. Thanks!

Private Parties

Questions about throwing a birthday party, house party, office party or any other kind of karaoke night

I’d love to book a karaoke party at my office or favorite bar! What’s your pricing?

Hooray! Our typical rate is $125/hour, which includes a dedicated host, audio, lighting, and special effects. There are no hidden fees: setup, teardown, equipment, and everything in-between is included in your pricing. We’ll talk directly to the manager at your location and make all the arrangements for you: all you’ll need to do is get your song list ready!

Do note that the per-hour cost can go up and down based on the location, size of your group, and duration: contact us at info@popupkaraoke.com to get a full quote and plan the perfect party!

Actually, how about a party at my place?

Absolutely! We have setups for any home, whether that’s a one-bedroom apartment or an expansive single-family home! The typical rate is $150/hour– setup, teardown, transportation, and equipment included– but can range by as much as 50% based on the number of guests, duration, and (because this is Chicago) the parking situation.

Contact us at info@popupkaraoke.com for a quote!

Hear me out. I want to party on a boat/in the street/on a plane/somewhere crazy.

Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuup. We specialize in events in strange places (and have already covered 3 out of 4 places in the question, in case you were wondering). We have several setups to fit your craziest whim, including entirely battery-powered rigs that’ll go darn near anywhere. Contact us at info@popupkaraoke.com to discuss– and we give discounts for weird!

Oof. A private party sounds so fun but I can’t afford a fancy place!

Here’s an option for you: early open! We can open up to three hours early at any of our residencies just for you and your friends for half the typical private party price*, starting at just $75/hr all-included! Contact us at info@popupkaraoke.com for details and available dates.

* Some venues charge a nominal room fee at peak times. Inquire for details!


Questions about regular appearances throughout Chicago

I want to sing! How does this work?

YES! No sign-ups, no book, no problems! If you want to sing a song, just come right up and ask the host: they’ll get you set up right away. Not sure what to sing? Choose any song from our catalog of thousands or just ask your karaoke host: if we can get it, we will!

Actually, speaking of our song list: our primary supplier is Karafun, who provides us with music, lyrics, and licensing for over 40,000 tracks at the time of this writing. We also use tracks from a number of other licensed suppliers, but due to copyright and licensing we won’t be able to use YouTube tracks or songs you provide: sorry!

I want to sing more! How do I make that happen?

We hear you! Here are some insider tips and tricks to maximize your time with us:

  • Get here early! Most of our residencies start at a slow time of the night. The earlier you get here, the more you can sing!
  • Put in your next song as soon as you’re done singing. It’s first-come, first-served– even for regulars– so get that next one in right away!
  • It’s okay to put your name in even if you’re not 100% sure of the song you want to sing. It’s totally fine to change your mind: just be sure you request your new song at least two singers before your turn so we can make sure it’s ready to go for you.
  • Let us know you’re coming! We’re happy to reserve tables at our residencies for regulars, and we’ll even save spots in the rotation if you check in ahead of time.
Do you not have the song or do you really NOT have the song?

We really don’t! Honestly, our founder and karaoke host Eamon loves Hanson, so if you want to sing it, we want to hear it! If we don’t have the song, we’ll try to get it– and if we can’t get it, it’s because it doesn’t exist or there’s some legal issue involved.

It’s my friend’s birthday/anniversary/special event!

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Let us know as soon as you arrive and we’ll plan for a little something special for them, time permitting. We can’t bump you or them up the list, though– we want everyone to have a good time!

What the heck? Someone walked in after me and they’re higher on the list!

Just one time, we swear! We sometimes move new singers up a couple spots to get them in the mix; after that it’s first-come first-served as always. And in the last hour of our shows, we don’t bump people up. Period.

Here’s a $20. Bump me up the list!

Sorry, we don’t do that. No offense to those karaoke hosts who do, but we adhere to a first-come, first-served policy.

Whatever. Here’s a $50. Bump me up the list.

Ugh. Seriously, we’ve had to turn down tips as high as $200. Don’t be that person.

That said, if you want to pay someone else to switch songs, that’s your business. Only one song in the list at a time per singer no matter what, though.

I didn’t get to sing!

I promise, we’re as sad about it as you are! We want everyone to sing as many songs as they can, but our venues do have a hard cut-off. Our hosts always read off the names of upcoming singers for the last hour of our shows, so if you want to squeeze in a song at the last minute, please listen to the host, watch the screen for your name, and above all please stay in the room! If you’re not there when we call your name we’ll have to bump your name down so others who are ready to sing can get their chance.

Even if we can’t get to your particular song, you’ll still have a chance to sing at the end of the night! Our hosts always close the night with a group song that everyone can sing along to. Don’t be shy– join us!

What’s the deal with R.Kelly?


Questions about lights, sound, special effects, and physical access

Lighting, special effects, and sound


Our shows use a number of lighting setups for enhanced visuals and to create a party atmosphere. While we do use spotlights, color changers, and similar effects, we do not use strobes and avoid pulsing any effects at speeds above 3Hz. Even so, we are 100% happy to chill out the lights for your performance! Just let us know– we have several static scenes we can run and have no problem dimming anything that might trigger you.

Special Effects

We make heavy use of fog machines at most of our shows. We use Chauvet High Performance Fog Fluid almost exclusively, which is water-based, non-toxic, non-flammable, and unscented (and here’s the safety sheet). As with everything else we do, your comfort is important to us: if you’d prefer us not to use fog during your performance, just let us know. Be aware that the room will likely have a bit of a haze throughout the show, especially in our smaller venues.


Obviously this is karaoke, so we can’t entirely control our singers’ volume, but we do our best to tamp down any amplification over a certain level. If the overall sound level is a problem for you, we can provide individually-packaged foam ear plugs available upon request. Also, we display upcoming singers at the top of our screens; if a particular song is just too much for you, we won’t mind at all if you leave the room and come back when your song is ready to go.

Physical access at Carol’s Pub

Carol’s has a sloped surface leading to its front door and is level throughout the venue. The performance area is on a stage that is only accessible via full-step stairs, but lyrics are displayed on multiple screens throughout the venue and we are happy to bring microphones and a personal lyrics screen down to the floor in front of the stage for your performance.

Physical access at Joe’s on Weed St.

Joe’s on Weed St. has a sloped surface leading to its front door and is level throughout the venue. The performance area is at ground level.

On special occasions performances will be on the venue’s rooftop; these events will be clearly marked, as there is no elevator to that level.

Physical access at High Dive

High Dive’s main entrance has a single step; there is a secondary entrance one door east that has a sloped surface leading to its door that will be opened for you upon request. The venue is level throughout. The performance area is on a stage that is roughly 8′ wide by 4′ deep by 4″ high. Lyrics are displayed on multiple screens in the venue and we are happy to bring microphones and a personal lyrics screen down to the floor in front of the stage for your performance.

Physical access at Konak Pizza & Grill

Konak has a sloped surface leading to its front door and is level throughout the venue. The performance area is on a stage that is only accessible via full-step stairs, but lyrics are displayed on multiple screens throughout the venue and we are happy to bring microphones and a personal lyrics screen down to the floor in front of the stage for your performance.