On March 18, Joseph Meyers was sitting at his home in Maine and the news regarding COVID-19 was getting worse and worse. In a simple effort to cheer himself up, he inadvertently created a global phenomenon now known as “Quarantine Karaoke.” The Quarantine Karaoke Facebook group now has more than 671,000 members from around the world who have joined together in song to bring comfort to one another.
Meyers works at a sales and consulting firm but has been in a couple of bands when he’s not at his 9-5 job.
He explained, “It was a Tuesday night and I was sitting on the couch in the living room with my wife. The quarantine was in effect and it seemed like the hits just kept on coming and more and more cities were shutting down. Everyone sort of had that depressed feeling. I am a musician, so I wanted to go down to the basement to kind of flip my mood. I went down and recorded a song of me singing into a mic with a backing track and took a video of it. I posted it on Facebook with the caption ‘quarantine karaoke’ on a whim. It’s not uncommon for me to go just play music. It’s very soothing and I usually come back up feeling better. The following day, it just sort of hit me that it was very therapeutic and what if I could just encourage other people to do the same thing and they could kind of life their moods, too?”
Meyers created the group and invited all his personal Facebook friends to join him in sharing videos and volunteered to go first. He posted “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd. That’s when things went a bit crazy.
He said, “It was insane how rapidly everybody started accepting the invite, joining and sharing it.”
Within the first 24 hours, Meyers said that around 10,000 people had joined the group and it continued to grow.
“The main goal was to, I created a set of rules, and it’s really just about being kind to others. Do not put anybody down. There is a zero tolerance one strike policy for bullying. If you say anything about someone else’s singing and you are being a jerk, you’re immediately kicked out of the group and blocked so that you cannot come back or find it,” he said. “Everyone is already feeling very lonely and secluded and they don’t need to feel bullied on top of that. I’ve really been focused on trying to build a kind spirited community where everybody is in here just supporting each other and encouraging them to be vulnerable and it’s OK. It’s a safe place and yeah, it’s really flourished.”
Meyers stressed that the group is not a competition and is for everybody to come together and share. He admitted that as the group has evolved that some favorites and stars have emerged.
As for his favorite, he laughed, “This whole thing is like my baby so that’s like I am being asked to pick my favorite kid. Do I have a number one favorite? I have tons of favorites. I have all kinds of favorites because there are all kinds of personalities.”
The group has quickly become a life changer for musicians everywhere.
Meyers said, “They found this group and they get 200-300 new fans every day because they are going live every day. The amount of support and things have been so uplifting to them.”
To help him make sure that the rules are being adhered to, Meyers had to quickly find moderators to help monitor the page.
“The team is up to 50 moderators right now and they are from all over the world,” he said. “I have people in France, Germany and Japan so they are from all over because it was important to have people in different time zones. So, when I go to sleep, things don’t go off the rails.”
He continued, “None of this was planned. It’s not like a business where you can kind of be operating in the dark and then for six months, get a plan in place and then launch and go live. This was all kind of thrust at me and everything has been coming 100 mph at me, so early on I just had like four of five people that I knew in Maine, like me, that were moderating. We’d all go to bed and things would get crazy at night and no one was watching and that had to quickly be rectified.”
Meyers has a running list of more than 75 people who are willing to help the team if need be. He intends to keep the page going after the restrictions are lifted and the threat of the coronavirus is over.
He said, “The end goal is not crystalized yet, but the journey has been amazing so far. I have no plans to shut it down. Music is the universal language and they don’t have to understand the words necessarily. They can still be touched by the soothing sound of music and however it is being portrayed.”
Find the Quarantine Karaoke group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/OfficialQuarantineKaraoke.
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