Karaokekan shifts to a new strategy.

A lot of businesses are taking a beating these days, but the blows are especially heavy for karaoke box operators. “Gather a group of friends and sit together in a closed room while breathing all over a microphone that you pass back and forth” is a business model that doesn’t mesh particularly well with a pandemic, after all.

But a good company needs to adapt with the times, and Karaokekan, one of Japan’s largest and most popular karaoke chains, has come up with a bold new strategy to boost its revenue: it’s making all of its karaoke rooms free to use.

You might be wondering how Karaokekan, which has locations across Japan, plans to boost its bottom line by not charging any money for its marque service, but there are two key factors here. First, room fees are only one source of revenue for karaoke operators, with food and drink being the other. Second, karaoke parlors’ expenses related to the actual music/singing part of their business are largely fixed. The karaoke song select systems, monitors, speakers, and microphones cost the company the same amount of money whether they get one customer for the day or 1,000.

In other words, Karaokekan isn’t saving any money on infrastructure expenses by having fewer customers, so even if they let customers use the rooms for free, as long as they’re ordering food and drinks, it’s a better situation for the company than letting the rooms sit empty. To that end, customers on the free-room plan are required to order one food item and one drink each, but with a soft drink and a side of fries only running about 600 yen (US$5.60) total, and no apparent time limit for how long you can use the room, it’s still a great deal for customers.

▼ While alcoholic drink orders are OK too, the free-room plan is not applicable with Karaokekan’s all-you-can-drink packages.

Of course, the reason fewer people are going to karaoke these days isn’t because of the cost, but because of avoiding face-to-face social gatherings. But Karaokekan’s free-room plan is especially appealing for solo karaoke sessions, especially if you were going out to pick up something to eat anyway, since in addition to snacks, the food menu has pizza and pasta dishes, all of which are reasonably priced.

▼ 680 yen for pasta and 880 yen for pizza would be attractive prices even without the free karaoke.

Even if you’re not going to sing, the free room makes for a nice private oasis for those who want to get out of the house but don’t feel comfortable hanging out in a coffee shop just yet. And if you are going to sing, being by yourself is a great opportunity to practice songs you’re not quite ready to sing in front of an audience.

▼ You’ll also avoid any judgmental groans after you put in 20 anime songs in a row.

The free-room plan is going on now, and will continue for an unspecified amount of time.

Related: Karaokekan location finder
Source: Karakoekan

Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Karaokekan (1, 2), Pakutaso
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Follow Casey on Twitter, and he promises to not complain even if you put in 30 anime songs in a row at karaoke (though he requests that one of them be “Give a Reason”).