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‘Thank you for joining and spreading the love’: The six-months-strong song of Quarantine Karaoke

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BREWER - What began a little more than six months ago as a fun exercise in a Brewer basement at the outset of the pandemic now involves recording contracts, a record label, a new YouTube show due to launch soon and even “American Idol.”

The Facebook group Quarantine Karaoke has become a global sensation, and no one is more surprised and gratified than its creator.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in mid-March, Joseph Meyers, then a resident of Brewer, sought a therapeutic outlet, and like he usually does, he turned to music to make him feel better.

“I was in the living room with my wife, and things were getting shut down, and the hits just seemed to keep coming,” Meyers said during an interview with The Maine Edge.

Meyers had been a member of Bangor area top-40 cover band Trendy Robots, and prior to that, a progressive alternative band that focused on original music called Most of Us Can Stand.

Seeking a positive outlet to channel his feelings about the grim pandemic news, Meyers decided to go to his basement where he has a piano.

“I regularly go down there to play and record music, it’s just part of who I am,” he said.

Meyers recorded a song and posted it on his personal Facebook page with the status: “Quarantine Karaoke.” As he walked up his basement stairs, he realized that he felt better, calling it a “therapeutic event.”

“When I woke up the next day, I had the thought that more people should do that, it really does help you cope with things.”

That was the moment he created a Facebook group called Quarantine Karaoke, then uploaded the first video, and encouraged people to join, share and record themselves singing their favorite songs from home. Within the first 24 hours, 10,000 people joined his group.

“All I did was click a button and say ‘go.’ It really blew up from there,” said Meyers.

Today, the group contains more than 10,000 members from Bangor alone, according to Meyers, in addition to more than 700,000 joining in from over 100 countries around the globe.

The page features singers of every caliber singing songs in most every musical genre and musicians performing a variety of instruments, and the videos keep coming, every minute of every day.

The early life of the page was primarily made up of members from all walks of life having a go at singing one of their favorite songs, according to Meyers.

“As time went on and musicians and singers lost their gigs because all of the venues had been shut down, they feverishly began filtering into the group,” Meyers says, adding “Some really amazing performers found their way to Quarantine Karaoke and never left.”

Mary Desmond is a California-based visual storyteller who frequently performs live as a Disney princess. Jeff Neil of South Carolina is a classically trained violinist who recently shared a video where he shreds the guitar solo from “Enter Sandman” by Metallica on electric violin. Dalanie Taylor of Arkansas is a gifted vocalist and guitarist as comfortable with an elegant jazz ballad as she is with a song by The Beatles or Randy Newman.

These are just some of the people from all over who have engaged with Quarantine Karaoke, but again, there are plenty more right here.

Autumn Tierney of Bangor is owner and tattoo artist at Three Graces Tattoo & Art Gallery on Main St. in Bangor. She has shared five videos since joining Quarantine Karaoke shortly after the group was created, singing songs by Amy Winehouse, Black Sabbath and others.

“It was a very fun experience for me,” she said. “It’s been a great bonding experience with everybody connected together in their own houses. It made me feel not so alone when I would share a video or watch someone else’s. I’ve made some very good friends on the page.”

Group member Jacqueline Kamczyc of Independence, Ohio, wrote in a post on the page for this story: “What a beautiful idea this turned out to be in a time we most needed entertainment and uplifting. I’ve met people from all over the world and have made lasting friendships.”

Heidi Nolan of Stonington, Maine, wrote: “Who would have thought that one small idea could generate so much talent starting from our wonderful state and spread out to others?”

Several members of Quarantine Karaoke have been signed to recording contracts after their videos were seen by music industry execs, including Whitney Hindenach of Michigan. The singer recently shared a video clip from a recording studio filmed during the recording of her debut E.P.

Meyers says he’s heard from a member who often goes live to sing and play guitar that was contacted by a member of the band Weezer.

“He said he was planning to fly out to record an album with him,” said Meyers.

When the group’s numbers exploded, Meyers says he instantly adopted a CEO mentality and recorded a 30-second introductory video saying, “Thank you for joining and spreading the love.”

Meyers politely urged members to keep everything positive, adding that the group is intended to be a constructive escape from the uncertainty felt around the globe as a result of the pandemic.

“Everybody rallied around that message,” Meyers said. “The community that built from there is one of wonderful, kind-hearted spirits. I am very proud of that, and of all of the members who make it so.”

Most everybody rallied around Meyers’s message of unity, but when you’re talking about tens of thousands of users – and now closer to a million – a few trolls are going to slip past the goalie, and Meyers realized he had to do something about it.

“In the early days of the page, as we were trying to get our arms around it, there was some bullying that took place,” Meyers remembers. “It’s a real shame, people worked up the courage to come on and sing and perform and some people were not nice to them. Some would even share those videos on their own page to make fun of our members outside of the group.”

Meyers ultimately came to the decision that the group should become private to stop the negativity in its tracks. It prevented videos from being shared outside of the group page. He admits that the stunning growth of new Quarantine Karaoke members slowed considerably once the group became private.

“The whole reason the group was able to go viral was because it was shareable,” he said. “People would share their videos on their own page which encouraged others to instantly join the group. As soon as I made it private, the group slowed immensely.”

With an abundance of volunteer moderators on the site at any given time, it doesn’t take long for new members to be approved once they click “join.” From there, the extent of the member’s participation is entirely up to them. They can share as many or as few videos as they’d like or if they choose to only to watch and listen, that’s OK too.

“Our moderators can keep their eyes on everything and keep everyone safe,” Meyers said.

Meyers says he’s added more than 100 moderators to the Quarantine Karaoke group since the beginning to maintain the positive spirit of the page. Some have come and gone, he says, because they all volunteer their time and schedules change.

Meyers currently has about 40 group moderators that keep the peace, delete negative comments and ban bullies. He and the rest of the group convene daily, using their own software he describes as a sort of chatroom where group discussions take place.

He says his group’s moderating team has become very much like a family.

“That’s been one of the most rewarding things about Quarantine Karaoke. A lot of them came to me and offered to jump in and help any way they could. It’s very much a family vibe behind the scenes. We talk every day about the group, and even about personal things. I’ve made some lifelong friends and we’re all supportive of each other.”

One of those moderators is Colin Campbell, a longtime friend and former bandmate of Meyers whose day job is in marketing. He says it been an incredible experience to see how the group has exploded and how it is making a positive difference in the lives of its members.

“The connection aspect, and what that has brought to people around the world, has been an incredible thing to see,” Campbell said. “I’m thinking of one person in particular right now. He’s a nine-year old boy in the Philippines named John Oxy. He has upward of a thousand likes and comments on there.”

Two days before this story was written, the young boy did a 90-minute live stream on Quarantine Karaoke, singing songs and accompanying himself on ukulele. He interacted live with viewers and thanked each one for their kind words.

“It’s so great to see how much of an impact something like this can have for a child in the Philippines,” Campbell said.

When Quarantine Karaoke exploded, Meyers says opportunity came knocking and he had to be vigilant in weeding out the good offers from bad – and trying to tell them apart wasn’t easy.

“I said no to pretty much everybody at first when a ton of people started contacting me with business opportunities. A lot of them were people asking if I wanted to offer Quarantine Karaoke merchandise. A few people suggested that I speak with one guy in particular, and that was Kevin Morneault.

Morneault is owner of LMF Services LLC in Brewer, a consulting agency specializing in molecular filtration.

Morneault soon became Meyers’s business partner, and even the designer of the Quarantine Karaoke logo being offered for sale on T-shirts, with proceeds earmarked for the Greater Bangor Area Homeless Shelter. According to Meyers, they were able to hand over a check for $1,200 after the first couple of weeks of sales.

In September, Quarantine Karaoke announced a partnership with ABC music reality show “American Idol.” The program is promoting Quarantine Karaoke on its social media platforms with an eye toward recruiting contestants for the show. Interested contestants should share a video to the page using the #QKIdol and then email a link to that video to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Contestants must be at least 15 years old and entries are to be submitted by September 24.

Over the summer, Meyers was contacted by Simply Pets CEO Lisa Smith Putnam about partnering with Quarantine Karaoke for a new YouTube program called “Show Me Whatcha Got,” set to debut soon across all digital platforms. The show, featuring pets and music, is described as karaoke meets “America’s Got Talent,” and will feature videos from pet parents and animal lovers from around the world.

“The show should begin airing soon,” Meyers said, adding that he’ll be a judge on the program. “We’re clearing songs now legally so they can be aired and that’s taking longer than we expected. The grand prize winner could win up to $10,000, and in conjunction with that, we’ve created a record label that will sign people from the show.”

The past six months have been a blur for Meyers and his team at Quarantine Karaoke; he’s barely had a chance to step back to consider everything that has happened since that fateful evening in March when he struck upon one very simple idea: sing a song and share it.

“Singing by itself is therapeutic,” he said. “When someone is singing from the heart and is in their element, I just love to watch and listen. I love to be part of it and I love to do it myself. That’s what I had in mind when I started the group, to encourage others to find their voice and have that same feeling.”

Meyers is thrilled to see how his group has impacted the lives of many of its users.

“Some members have been musicians who’d been struggling to accumulate 2,000 likes on their own pages but saw their numbers grow to more than 20,000 after sharing videos on Quarantine Karaoke.”

Countless other members on the page have messaged Meyers to simply thank him for helping them through one of the most difficult phases of their lives.

“Hundreds if not thousands of members have messaged me to say ‘Thanks for starting this page and helping me through the quarantine. I don’t know what I would have done without it.’ Some people are lonely, and some are scared and looking for something positive to cling to, to help them through this time. They found this group, with its comfort and camaraderie, and it felt like family to them.”

Last modified on Wednesday, 23 September 2020 08:04

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