2 weeks ago, I went for my shortest trip ever to London (4 days), however it was all worth it as we were there for a recording session with Ming for a collaboration with a yet to be announced artist. The studio that we stepped into was called Sarm Studios.
This studio was built in the 60s by Chris Blackwell who started Island Records (U2, Bob Marley etc) and the albums that were recorded there were life changing for me. We’re talking about like from Led Zeppelin IV (”Stairway to Heaven”), Queen (We’re the Champions), Bob Marley(who stayed upstairs of the studio for a year), the Rolling Stones to modern day legends like Muse, Coldplay, One Direction, Rihanna etc.
We were so blessed to be recording there as the engineer broke us the sad news that they will be pulling down the studio in a couple of months, converting it to condos due to practical reasons. It’s really tragic and shows how the recording industry is changing.
Nevertheless, it was such an honour to step into a room knowing that once upon a time, songs that shaped my musical identity were recorded right there. If there ever was a truly mystical vibe that fills you with inspiration when you stepped into a room, this was it. I can’t really put that thick vibe being in that room to words but that live room just sounded like any sound you made in it will sound great.
Sarm Studios, you will be missed. R.I.P.
This is ain’t just a rotting old couch in front of the reception of Sarm Studios, it’s Bob Marley’s rotting old couch!
The Project SuperStar 2014 auditions came to a final close last weekend, where judges Roy, Dawn and me had the unenviable task of choosing 12 out of 6000 hopefuls to be in the competition, unenviable because I could see the 60 over applicants in the final audition really gave it their best in hope of entering the top 12 and of course, not all could make it there.
I’ve since received messages from some of the contestants who didn’t make it that day, expressing their disappointment and despair. And I felt that I had to write this post to answer them all in one go.
To those of you out there who didn’t get that gig, win that award, secure that job you really wanted. For you out there who’s still feeling affected. Here’s some actions I can suggest you to take.
1. Appreciate the journey
There are 2 sides to every story, you can beat yourself up for failing, let it drag you down, or you give yourself a pat on the back that you tried and appreciate the things you’ve learned along the way. Make your own choice on which is the better way to make use of your time.
2. Learn from experience
Analyse what went wrong during the audition, or the approach in your delivery. I’m sure you’d know at least a few factors that might have caused you not to get what you wanted. You can now know you shouldn’t do that again. Do your homework. And if you’re not sure, you can always seek feedback from those around you. Or go do more research or take up a course on how to up your game for the next time round.
One of the more frequent reasons that I hear from performers on why they didn’t do well. Unless someone is forcing you to take the stage, you must understand you got there by choice. Meaning you want to do this, and you want to do it well. It’s very natural to be nervous during a big audition, however, you are up on this stage to entertain. Even if you are nervous, you really have to practice acting that you are confident. Sometimes I get on stage and see 20 000-30 000 looking at me, I’ll get overwhelmed as well. However I know I have a responsibility to do well, and being nervous is not gonna help. At the same time, I always have the thought in my head that says “If I screw up, so what? What’s the very worst thing that can happen?”. Fail lorrrr, then try again loooorrr!
3. There is more than one way to achieve what you want in life.
The last PSS was 7 years ago, many were very disappointed because they felt that they cannot wait another 7 years for the next one to happen. Well, PSS is not the ONLY way to get what you want. In this day and age, there are many different ways to get discovered in the entertainment biz, and there are many different avenues for you to make a living out of doing something you love. You can go do Youtube videos, you can go out and source for gigs, you can form a band, you write your own songs, you can go learn an instrument, you can explore acting, you can try hosting, you can learn dancing…The list goes on and on. If you felt that you have exhausted all methods of getting recognised for your talent, you probably haven’t tried hard enough because there are always new opportunities all around if you search hard for it. No one owes you anything. No one needs to help you. It’s up to yourself to churn out that drive to continuously improve, look around and pave the way for yourself. I had someone here who once lamented to me that he/she feels that Singapore is not a place that appreciates his/her talent and that he/she feels much more appreciated to audience overseas. In which I said, then what you waiting for? If you really want this that much, then get out of here and chase that dream!
You just have to keep that fire in your passion alive. Again I’d say, the journey travelled is much more valuable than the end result. If you keep your head up, no matter what the outcome is. You’ll be able to say, I really tried my very best, 至少我对的起自己.
I hope this little bit of advice from my experience in this biz can be of help to you. The best people in the biz failed many times to learn how to succeed. If you can treat failure as a short detour on your route to success. You might not be so hard on yourself, and use that energy to push yourself harder to up your game.
So…keep your chin up! True success is derived from how you overcome your failures! See you guys in the battlefield. 加油！
On the 20th of June, we introduced Kenny to the media and the results have been very encouraging, with him being featured on every entertainment publication/media I can think of in Singapore. I would like to think that his good results of his release in Taiwan within a short month plus gave the media over here a push to be more supportive.
Here’s some photos of what went down that day.
This is our present to Kenny for his good results, we had 王白安老师, a member of the Singapore Calligraphy Association to write this piece for Kenny. 王老师 had previously written for ministers like Grace Fu and more. It was interesting watching him at work and learning more about this age old tradition.
And to wrap up the event, we also had Yee Wei, Director of Girl in Pinafore on stage with Kenny’s brothers from the cast who came down to show their support!
Kenny went back to Taiwan for a short trip to film a series for 腾讯 and after that he’ll back to do more live performances in Ngee Ann Poly, Hougang Secondary School, Anderson JC etc. We’ll also be taking him to some Singapore offices as part of the “Ten Storeys Urban Tour”. Hope to see you there!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been noting the buzz around FB/Instagram about contestants auditioning for PSS(Project Superstar) and VOC(Voice of China). I’ve been told the response for the open auditions for Project Superstar has seen 1000s of Superstar hopefuls lining up all the way out to the car park.
Well, apart from me having met many highly successful stars and artists over the years. Some of you might know that I’m one of the judges for the upcoming PSS, so I’ve been asked on how should one prepare?
Well, apart from FM Pop Music School running a crash course named “Singing Competition Preparation Workshop”.
Here are some other tips on what you can do to prep yourself for events like these, or that next important gig of your life.
1. Understand your goal
Project Superstar = looking for a Superstar, Voice of China = looking for the greatest voice, Battle of the bands = Looking for that most kickass group of musicians, Wedding gig = entertaining the guests supporting the main stars – the wedding couple, etc
This might seem elementary, however it’s crucial. For e.g. PSS is looking for a Superstar, don’t go on stage not showing up like one, singing to yourself or dressing up like you going to the supermarket.
2. Face reality
Singing competitions, like it or not, are all about entertaining the audience. It’s not all about the talent you have. Much like the music biz, the more people like you, the further you go.
3. Knowing your product
Get to know yourself better, create a gripping story, look into your most likable qualities other than your musical talent. Engage your audience, market yourself, know your “product” (which is you, yourself).
4. Prepare, rehearse, practice, repeat.
It’s all the same, confidence comes with practice. It’s like playing the same video game again and again, (or did any of you manage to catch “Edge of Tomorrow”?) once you get familiar with your material, that’s when you can add flair, consider showmanship, inject feel into your performance.
5. Be confident
Even if you are not confident, you have to practice looking, feeling confident. If you can’t make it, fake it. This, my friend, is a secret of me and many working professionals on why we can sustain a career in music (shhhh…don’t tell anyone )
6. Envision your goal
Other than practicing for your goal. This is an exercise I always ask my trainees to practice. It’s actually a part of mind programming (Neuro Linguistic Programming) where when you make yourself believe you can achieve greatness.
Imagine yourself on that stage, imagine you are feeling totally on top form, confident(if you usually have stage fright, imagine the exact opposite). Imagine you giving the greatest performance of your life, all the notes hitting perfectly as you practiced it, imagine the crowd going crazy, imagine that feeling you are having in response to them loving you etc.
You might surprise yourself that when you get on stage, you find yourself more confident, even a sense of deja vu.
7. When on stage
When you are up there, don’t hold back. Give it all. Seriously ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen?Nothing actually. Nothing really life threatening that is.
You might get kicked out, so what? Life goes on, at least that shot you gave was your best one.
8. When off stage
Work hard on building your “product”, make use of social media, there are so many ways to call attention to yourself. Even if it’s not music/singing related, it’s still attention. And also, don’t get cocky. Most of the superstars I’ve met, I’m talking like even world famous ones who are gigantic on stage, are the most humble people offstage, and try their best to make everyone around them feel comfortable.
9. Study your competition
Look around, study your competition. Study their weaknesses, understand your strengths. Competition is great, and doesn’t need to be treated negatively. If your mindset is open minded. What it does is bring everyone’s standard up collectively if everyone befriends, shares and works together. That’s what we all really want, to get better at our game. And don’t be intimidated if you think that person is so much better than you. So what? Like I said, in life, it’s not all about talent, it’s also about you as a person, the way you treat people, the way people feel about you etc.
10. If you fail this time, are you a failure?
No! Singing competitions are not the only route to stardom. In fact, just like releasing an album, even if you win or go far, you barely only just started,
In life, there are always more than one way to get to your desired goal, you just have to be pro active to find it. More importantly, don’t bother doing it it if you don’t even believe in it. You make your own choices.
I can go on and on, as there are so many contributing factors that make up a successful Superstar, musician, band etc. But I think these 10 points are enough for you to get started.
Yeah! After a month plus in Taiwan, Kenny is back for his homecoming promotion. We’ll be holding a press conference tomorrow where Kenny will be sharing the stories of his promotion in Taiwan.
With almost 90% of his Facebook fans from Taiwan, we are all psyched up planning more activities during Kenny’s stay in Singapore this time to allow him reach out to more fans in Singapore. It’s always very exciting for us to launch a new artist into any market.
Will update more after our press conference tomorrow!
My last blog post/question on whether the Singapore music industry or aspiring newcomers is limited to less than 100 people. had quite a bit of response on the SGMUSO group page and on the walls of those musos who shared my post.
If you missed it, you can read it here http://blog.omy.sg/hyr/2014/06/09/a-question-to-the-serious-aspiring-artistbandmusician-based-in-singapore/
I’m glad out of that we’ve managed to get a few more people aware of the SGMUSO’s existence and the initiatives that’s been organised so far. Yes, I’m aware the promotion of SGMUSO has much to be improved however did I also mention it’s non-profit?
That being said, it’s not just the SGMUSO that’s churning out advice for those who are truly passionate in music and am looking to take it further, there are constantly free workshops (my school has conducted quite a few of them last year), gigs, events, music forums such as S.O.F.T, information flying around that if you seek and find, you can benefit from.
And in one of the feedback, I saw the mention of maybe it’s because most Singaporeans/Singaporean musicians have a lack of faith in the local music scene.
Ok…here we go.
For that one Coldplay, Simple Plan, Courtney Pine, Mumford and Sons, Gary Clark, Lady Gaga, Bob Ludwig, 30 seconds to Mars, Lamb of God, Skrillex, JayZ, Steve Lukather, Chris Lord Alge, Steve Lillywhite, Thomas Lange, Daniel Glass, Sharon Osbourne, Diane Warren, PSY, Girls Generation, A*Mei， 吳莫愁, Siti Nurhaliza, Adira, P Ramlee, Timbaland, Steve Vai, Bodyslam,Da Endophine, JJ Lin, Keith Urban
etc etc that makes it and achieves widespread success. (I’m trying to cover as many genres, language and positions in the industry as I can )
Do you need to guess how many billion others never EVER reach there? And for those who haven’t made it, how many are still toiling on, living without luxuries, fuelled by their
passion in the hope of that one day?
Many, I have met so many, all over the world, I give them utmost respect as that defines the artist, that defines the hunger chasing after the passion of their art. I have had the greatest of luck to be able to survive till this day, and the feeling of being able to survive doing what you love, is the greatest feeling in the world. It still brings me a smile every morning when I wake up. And even if one day all this goes away, I’ll still be smiling because at least I can live to say I’ve tried.
And this is also probably the reason why it’s not the easiest thing, entering into the music industry. Just because wah lau eh, so shiok…who don’t want!??
I always like to take for e.g., the career of PSY. Whether you like his stuff or not, who would have expected some uncle dancing some funny dance with babes to take over the world and break into the INTERNATIONAL scene? Did PSY ever expected it when he was preparing for his 1st album which released in 2001? Did he decide to give up after almost 10 years in the business, running into financial difficulties? If he had lost faith, that would have been the end of it. Instead he proved to the world, that anyone can come out from anywhere no matter what you language/background/look is.
And with him as an example, I say that, in this day and age where social media and the internet has levelled the playing field for everyone, that the next person/act/artist/musician/band, sure as hell can be from Singapore. Yes Singapore, is a very small country, however we can always reach out to the world. Just like many industries in Singapore, many have found huge success exporting their business over our shores.
Apart from global takeover, for making a living out of making music in Singapore, I’d say we have tons of success stories. The unsung heroes. The teacher that teaches music in your school, the musician that entertains you in your pub, that soundman that makes sure you sound great over the PA, the songwriter that writes hits that you might have heard of, the session band that tours with an artist you might love and that engineer that is in charge of recording VOs for that jingle you’ve heard. All these guys are also part of the local music scenery, and there are many of them, making a honest credible, survivable livelihood.
So if you are a Singaporean musician who has a lack of faith in the local music scene. Or think it’s impossible to make a living out of music being from Singapore. Maybe you’d like to reaccess.
1. Is it that you have a lack of faith in the local music scene?
2. Or is it that you have a lack of faith in following thru with your passion?
Not same same, but different.
I’m not talking like jamming once in a while, writing stuff for a laugh， Karaoke hero/musician/hobbyist.
I’m talking about “This is my passion”, “Music is not just a hobby”,”There’s really nothing else I’d rather in my life” types.
I’m sure these guys are out there, I bump into them during concerts, gigs, bars, clubs, seminars now and then. I have quite a few of them private messaging me on FB asking questions. I see almost 2000 people at the SGMUSO group/page on Facebook of whom almost a 1000 registered to be members.
Over the last month, SGMUSO held quite a few events. A month ago, it was an open forum for Singapore musicians to come together, mingle, network and pick the brains of the SGMUSO council which is made up of music industry types who play diff roles, for e.g. Live venue owners, tour managers, artist managers, digital media aggregators etc. I’m on the council as well, representing the Asian, Chinese side of things.
And 2 weeks ago, just before Music Matters, we had Steve Savoca (Head of Content, Spotify) coming down to share how musicians in Singapore can make use of Spotify to their benefit.
These events were all free and open to the public, I attended both events and I’d say I saw less than 100 attendees?
Not to mention SGMUSO offering 100 complimentary passes to All that Matters out of which only 81 members came forward to pick it up.
Did I mention all these events are FREE?
Being part of the SGMUSO council, none of us gets paid, we all came together out of goodwill to see if there’s anything we can share that might benefit these types. For a non profit organisation like this, I’d say some of the initiatives that’s been done so far has been really beneficial for those same few familiar faces we always see. During these events, Information is shared, networks are built and some of these speakers are nothing short of living legends. For me, with almost 20 years in the biz, I always find something to learn from during these events especially in challenging times where the industry is constantly evolving.
So here I’m wondering. Where are these aspiring musicians I keep bumping into?
I don’t believe there are only so few of these serious musicians in Sg. I believe there are more.
Don’t misunderstand, this post is not to rant on you, the serious musician. This post is actually thrown open to you guys as I’m curious how come we see so few musos attending events like these?
Do you feel these events are a waste of time?
Is there something that you feel about these events that is not being done right?
Is there someone’s face you don’t like???
I’d like to know coz I think it’ll be better if we know what’s the cause then we can try do something about it. Otherwise I feel it’s such a waste as there’s so much to be learnt and shared when people come together. And I believe that the Singapore music industry or aspiring newcomers is not limited to < 100 people.
Looking forward to hear from you.
It’s been about a month of promo for Kenny in Taiwan and so far the response has been very encouraging! His recent appearance on the 娱乐百分百programme won him over to a new audience. IF you missed it, here are some highlights.
I went over recently to attend his one month celebratory press conference and joined his performance at 河岸留言, the iconic live venue in Taipei.
Here are some pics. But before that, do check out his MV, which is about to hit 100 000 views in just a month of release!
Well wishes from the local media.
Brother Jiao shares with the press on Kenny’s exciting progress over a short month.
阿杜 shows up to give support to fellow Singaporean!
Kenny’s performance and autograph session at 音乐花房！
A gift and well wishes from his fans. Super sweet.
His fans invite only performance at 河岸留言, where Kenny performed his album in it’s full entirety just for his fans.
Kenny plays doctor with his fans.
Had much fun jamming with Kenny onstage.
Kenny will be wrapping his 1st phase of Taiwan promo for his homecoming promo in Singapore! Not before doing a few more variety shows including another appearance on 娱乐百分百, this time with 罗志详 as host.
Do watch this space where we’ll be announcing exciting stuff lined up for Kenny in Singapore! It’s gonna be a fun month!
Well, this week will be a busy week just like last year, as Music Matters is back! This time I’ll be even more busy as other than attending the conferences, I’ll be performing with Ming for a series of showcases, it’ll be acoustic gigs for some and I’ll bring along my trusty band for the main stage (Fountain stage) and the Singapore showcase performances! Do join us for some crazy fun! And do support the other cool Singaporean acts as well!
Ming Bridges gig schedule
21 May 10:00-10:40pm Switch
22 May 8:45-9:15pm Shuffle
22 May 10:30-11:00pm Fern & Kiwi
23 May 7:45pm – 8:05pm Fountain Stage (Full band)
23 May 10:30pm – 11:00pm Paulaner (Full band)
Yesterday I kickstarted our batch 2 of our Career in Hit Songwriting course! As with batch one, this group of trainees were selected from almost 200 submissions of songwriters who wish to further their potential of writing hit songs for the pop music industry.
I’d say I’m very satisfied with this round of submissions as at 1st we were a little worried if the quality of submissions will match up to what we had at our 1st batch. I’m glad to say we’ve heard lots of cool stuff this time as well, strengthening my belief that we do have great talent in Singapore, who we’ll try our best to help with some guidance and exposure to our networks to the music industry.
Every new batch opens new possibilities. Our last batch saw the launch of singer songwriter Kenny Khoo, and also with our trainees involved in production activities in movies, Chinggay, writing drama series songs, performing in Spring Scream in Taiwan, having a full house showing during the showcase for their original works etc.
Let’s see what this new batch can do. Jiayou!