An “Entire house for lease” banner hangs over a karaoke parlor located on Su Van Hanh Street in District 10, HCM City.

Quan, 48, who lives near the karaoke parlor, said the owner is fed up about running the business and plans to liquidate all assets and give the retail premises back to the landlord.

Karaoke parlor owners are now in their most difficult time. They were dealt a strong blow by Covid-19, and by negative news about karaoke parlor fire cases and inspections by management agencies.

Many large karaoke parlors were once located on bustling Su Van Hanh Street in HCM City, but only several parlors still operate.

The owner of a karaoke parlor in the region told VietNamNet that the business facility has existed for four years. The conditions on fire prevention were examined before the facility became operational. 

After the fire at An Phu karaoke parlor in Binh Duong province, the owner decided to repair and upgrade the facility which cost him VND2 billion. 

He has applied for a state management agency inspection, but to date, there has been no reply from the HCM City police (PC 07).

Cry for help

More recently, the Karaoke ICool chain in HCM City sent a letter to the HCM City Mayor, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and HCM City police, asking to save the karaoke service sector. 

The letter shows that the chain has followed state management agencies’ instructions on fixing the problems related to the fire prevention and fighting. 

However, the repair has not been examined and it is unclear when it will be. While waiting for inspection, the karaoke parlors of the chain have been told to suspend operation.

The chain’s owner injected roughly VND1 trillion, mostly from loans, into the chain with 20 branches throughout the country. 

As the chain is not operating, and doesn’t have revenue, it has to spend money on many expense items. About 600 workers and collaborators have not had jobs for a long time.

Karaoke chains have repeatedly called on state management agencies to give detailed guidance on the conditions they must satisfy to operate under new standards, and set a time limit for them to obtain these conditions.

According to Nam, the manager of FYou karaoke flour on 3/2 Road, HCM City, said the facility has completed eight items as requested by state agencies. The partitions in karaoke chambers now don’t use combustible materials; gas masks are provided in every chamber and corridor; a system allows them to cut off sounds in case of fire; and there are two exits for emergencies. 

The conditions have been examined by agencies which concluded that the facility could satisfy all requirements. However, the agencies said they still needed to wait for further guidance from the ministry.

Nam said repair and upgrading alone cost VND10 billion and the rent is VND300 million a month. Meanwhile, the parlor chain still cannot receive customers and has had to wait many months. Two out of four facilities of the chain have shut down.

Hanoi-based enterprises running karaoke parlors have also lodged a complaint to the Prime Minister, government inspectors, MPS and relevant agencies, requesting to remove difficulties.

Local karaoke facilities have operated since 2017 when they were certified as meeting regulations on fire prevention and fighting.

After the fire cases occurring at ISIS in Hanoi in August 2022 and An Phu in Binh Duong province in September 2022, the authorities have tightened control over karaoke facilities.

In October 2022, the police began inspecting all karaoke parlors in Hanoi, suspending many facilities for failing to meet criteria on fire prevention.

The problem is that karaoke facility owners don’t know how the facilities need to be repaired and which materials they have to use to satisfy the new regulations

Analysts estimated that investment rate for each karaoke chamber is VND300-500 million. As such, the total investment capital of thousands of chambers in the city amounts to trillions of VND.

Tran Chung