Malaysia’s karaoke industry faces pay cuts and losses


Karaoke used to be an activity to let go, sing the chorus and connect with friends for this 3-hour slot you have in a cozy private room.

But since the success of the pandemic, the KTV (karaoke and TV) industry has ceased to operate for more than a year. No income, to brands like Karaoke Manekineko i Teo Heng KTV they have closed all their outlets in Singapore due to COVID-19.

Back in Malaysia, employees have experienced up to 80% of pay cuts, unpaid layoffs and forced restrictions. That is according to this message to the National Security Council shared by Neway i Karaoke Manekine Malaysia on their Facebook pages in February 2021.

“All karaoke operators are already in a serious financial crisis due to the zero income of the last 12 [now 15] months. The government must seriously address this situation before setting aside the family karaoke industry, ”wrote Karaoke Manekineko Malaysia.

The only certainty is uncertainty

Of course, the first announcement of the MCO in 2020 was a shock to all sectors, as it was the first time that meetings and dinners had to be stopped. Many revolted, held emergency meetings and were afraid of what would come next.

By now, it’s been over a year, and with 3 MCOs and a current average of 6,000 daily COVID-19 cases, this battle is far from over. It has gotten to the point that even citizens can probably predict at least a week in advance when the next MCO would pass.

Since karaoke brands have been closed during closures and even at the CMCO, Red Box karaoke the group’s general manager, Dr. Giovann Ng, shared that they are used to it too. He told Vulcan Post that the team recognizes when the next closure will be ordered and that they are ready to close before the closures are officially announced.

Karaoke Manekineko Malaysia even decided to do it voluntarily stop operations for a couple of outlets when they noticed that cases were rising again in January 2021.

Rooms for Loud Speaker have been empty for a total of 15 months / Image credit: Loud Speaker

But Damien Soh, Loud Speaker founder and president, admitted that his team is far from baffled by the MCOs.

“Our destiny is not in our hands and, ironically, the only certainty we can predict is uncertainty. Even when our prime minister assured us that there will be no more general MCOs after MCO 2.0, we are now starting MCO 3.0 two months later, ”he recalled frustrated.

“So yes, every MCO ad is still a shock to us. And are we used to it? Maybe we’re getting used to not being too hopeful. ”

The president added that the persistent start and stop of his company’s recovery process has worsened the morale and spirits of his team as they fear their livelihoods.

What other revenue streams do KTV brands have?

All companies need to find a way to adapt or risk closing down when cash reserves run out. While gyms they could earn income from their homemade training packages, stroking zoos like Farm in the city they were able to sell their memories.

And some KTV brands realized they also had something to offer during closing: their food. Part of the karaoke experience is the free flow of drinks, buffet food and snacks from the bar to share with friends and family.

Red Box Karaoke offered some of its dishes on delivery platforms / Image Credit: Red Box Karaoke

Red Box Karaoke began offering meals through GrabFood and EASI, while Neway Karaoke Box partnered with Asian store MIX to deliver their food and snacks. Karaoke Manekineko Malaysia sold packets of beer that came with vouchers that customers could claim for karaoke sessions at their establishments once they were safe again.

Loud Speaker was completely inactive during the MCO, despite trying to sell tickets online to members. Skeptical about the sustainability of this movement, they quickly grabbed the cap and suffered absolute losses while locked up.

“We have not considered asking for help from the public, as this pandemic affects the livelihood of everyone and not just our business,” shared Damien, who preferred to accept only monetary support from customers in exchange for their basic services a once they can operate again.

And for a brief moment, there was some hope. When they were allowed to open after MCO 1.0, a large number of eager customers again showed their support.

However, the brand had to limit room occupancy to 50% of its original capacity to meet social distancing measures. That is, if a room is supposed to accommodate 4 people, only 2 people would be allowed to enter at a time.

Damien explained that Loud Speaker has so far only been able to operate for a total of 6 months since March last year until now. He also remains fearful of what the family karaoke industry would be like if the pandemic continues.

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Family karaoke is just one of the biggest entertainment industry sectors to suffer amid blockages; cinemas great i small they have already fired. According to Damien, considered less essential among other “non-essential” companies, entertainment services are always the first sector to be ordered to close and reopen last.

While selling vouchers for your services can help with your somewhat short-term cash bookings, the real change will only occur when you can fully enjoy leisure activities again.

Damien concluded, “All we want is for everyone to be able to meet the PCOS to fight COVID-19 together as a nation, as a Malaysian. You may think that an individual can do nothing. But let it be the change you want to see. We may not eliminate COVID-19 altogether, but together we can stop its spread ”.

It is worth remembering that each person has a role to play in flattening the curve once again. We’ve done it before and, with the deployment of the vaccine, which is picking up its pace, we can do it again. You can do your part by registering as an individual and registering your file dependent on MySejahtera, or if you are an entrepreneur, register your company to obtain Sinovac vaccines for your employees.

  • You can find more information about Loud Speaker here, and Red Box Karaoke here.
  • You can read about other topics related to MCO here.

Featured Image Credit: Karaoke Loud Speaker / Red Box

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