I’ve been listening to Japanese music for many years. Occasionally I’d pull up the lyrics in romaji and sing along. I used to run Japanese lyrics through dictionaries and make my own Japanese > Romaji lyrics. While that was actually very helpful for learning vocabulary, it’s not so useful for studying now.
So I figure another step would be singing Japanese karaoke using Japanese lyrics! Instead of reading the tiny lyrics on the song booklets that come with CDs, I figured a Japanese karaoke set might be nice. But those are expensive, so I figured I’d try an online subscription. The first (and only) place I found is karaoke@dam.
So what is karaoke@dam? Pretty much karaoke for your PC, streamed over the internet for 1050 yen a month. Pretty awesome, right? But there are some things you’ll want to check and know.
- What are the system requirements?
- Do they even have the songs I want?
- Sign me up!
- Wait, is it even worth it?
What are the system requirements?
- 1MB down speed
- Windows XP or later
- Internet Explorer 6.0 or later
- Windows Media Player version 10 or later
If I read everything correctly, the site makes use of DRM through Windows Media Player (WMP), meaning your subscription will only work on one machine. I’ll update this if I find out otherwise.
Now, even if your machine meets all the above requirements, you’ll want to test out the videos. The reason I say this is that the servers are in Japan, and it can be very slow, even if you have 20MB down. I had to tweak my WMP settings to buffer 60s before playing, and even then the video will still stop in the middle pretty often. Make sure to test playback here.
If the sample videos don’t like playing, the actual videos won’t like to play either.
After following the link, you can click on the links highlighted to play the sample videos. (Make sure you are using IE!)
Do they even have the songs I want?
I’m sure they don’t have all the songs you want, but they probably have a lot of them. I was personally a bit disappointed by the Western selection of songs, but the Japanese selection is amazing for my tastes.
The radio buttons in yellow are searching for artist name, composer name(?), and song name. I’ve only ever used the artist and song name search, and remember to search in Japanese.
The links highlighted in orange take you to a sort of keyboard for artists and songs respectively. You can use this if you can’t input Japanese on your computer.
Once you find a song, you can select it to pull up more details. Scroll down to the bottom to see if the song is available for karaoke@dam. Look for “karaoke@dam” and make sure you see the orange highlighted text. That means that the song is currently available for streaming.
How to sign up? It’s all in Japanese, but they had no issues taking my credit card from the US.
is how you create an account. Even though the application only works in IE, use a non-IE browser when signing up or you won’t get the pop-up to select a profile picture.
One you are signed into your account – go to your page
(link directly to it).
Look for the picture of the credit card, click on the first link. It’ll let you put in your credit card details.
Go back to your page, and look for the following screenshot. Click on the first link to sign up for karaoke@dam.
And you should get an email confirmation and be good to go!
- Server speeds generally suck.
- Windows only. IE is required, but the web interface sucks.
- It’s karaoke streamed to your computer for 1050 yen a month!
- Huge song collection.
A little more on the cons: The server speeds are generally too slow to actually play a full song without stopping. Some times of the day are better than others I believe, but whenever I want to sing, it’s always buffering. Which is why I really recommend playing the sample videos and different times of the day.
As for the web interface… it’s really kind of funny. Half the web site doesn’t work properly in IE. It sort of half works, but I actually browse and use Chrome to add the songs I want to sing to my playlist, and load them up in a separate IE window.
Do I think it is worth it? Yes. When it works. Sadly, that doesn’t happen too often.