Karaoke for Free Taxi Ride

Taxi driver in Taiwan offers free rides in return for singing karaoke, and uploads the films to YouTube to earn a nice little bit on the side.

In a city that loves to sing you can find karaoke just about anywhere, including in numerous taxis. The local taxi app even has “karaoke” as a selection alongside “English-speaking driver” or “wheelchair accessible”. Stumble off the pavement and into a car, and you might find a microphone thrust into your hand and an iPad ready to play YouTube clips of any song you can think of, with lyrics. But this particular taxi driver - Tu Ching Liang - will tell you he's the famous one.

“I’ve been driving a taxi for 27 years, giving money as rewards for singing karaoke for eight years, and filming videos for six years. I’ve filmed 10,000 videos,” he says.

If you get in to Tu’s taxi, the first item on the agenda is not 'where do you want to go' but 'do you want to make a deal?' If you don’t sing you don’t get a discount. Hilariously, if you do opt to sing for him, he only occasionally gives forewarning that the speakers are on the outside of the car and turned up loud, so any fortunate (or unfortunate) pedestrians get to hear the warblings of his passengers.

If Tu likes a singer’s effort he’ll discount the trip for them, sometimes giving a cash prize. Usually, people tip him more than the fare would have been.

What began nearly a decade ago as a game, offering passengers a discount if they could guess a song title, has evolved into something of a social media empire. Cameras inside Tu’s car capture every performance - the good, the terrible and the drunk - which he uploads to YouTube. Some have been watched more than 2m times. If you want to watch any of his uploads, you can visit his YouTube channel.

Apart from loving what he does, the big question is: how much money does he earn from the videos he uploads to YouTube. Unsurprisingly, he's a bit cagey about that, but it's likely to be as much as US$10,000 per million views.



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