As you guys know, I recently did a show at the Esplanade as part of Voices – A Festival Of Song, where I performed my own original songs, most of them for the first time. It was an incredible honour to be invited back to perform at the Esplanade, and I could not have asked for a better opportunity to debut my songs. (I sang 8 original songs in total. You can catch the show on Facebook live here and here!)
While there’s a lot that can be said about the show itself, I’d like to spend a bit of time talking about the work that went behind putting this show up. Being an independent musician means that I pretty much handle everything that needs to be done, or am responsible for finding someone to do it. And I’m looking back on the work I’ve done so far not to brag about it (not sure who really cares, lol), but more for myself to celebrate how much I’ve managed to accomplish so far. Because it’s important to celebrate the little milestones!
So, taking stock of what I’ve done this year:
1. Made a website
Alright, the first step to launching an artist identity is making a website, I suppose. This was really unplanned, I was initially looking at setting up a very different kind of website, but it somehow evolved into making my artist website (which I thought was a bit too early because my songs were still works in progress, but after a while realized it was just the right timing). I spent two solid weeks labouring away at the website, but am very satisfied with the end result, and just love how it looks now (especially the smoky effect on the main page, which moves with the mouse on desktop view, I think I’ve squealed about this before. Squeals again!). And now I have a web presence that I’m proud to show to people!
2. Planned a fundraising campaign
How did this fundraising campaign come about? Looking back now, I remember thinking I needed money for production expenses, and with my unstable freelance work I wasn’t able to raise it very quickly by myself. I needed help. That’s when I came up with the idea of selling USB drives containing the acoustic version of Loaded (which will be my very first song release under my own artist name).
It was risky, but it paid off. I actually raised my target amount after only selling half the USB drives, thanks to extremely kind and generous contributions by several strong supporters (I am so, so grateful). Another important thing this showed me was that I could conceivably sustain my artistic career. And now I have money to do other things with!
3. Expanded my merchandise
With the capital I raised from the campaign, I thought about what was best to invest in. What could give me some returns or grow my capital? My conclusion: more merchandise.
Several of my followers had told me they would buy tote bags or t-shirts, so I checked out the feasibility of getting those made. While doing so, I also considered other cheaper items that I could make, and ended up with button badges, postcards, and stickers. The button badges are actually handmade by myself and my dear friend Nik, a super talented artist (you can find her art on her Instagram)! Now I have more items to offer for sale along with the remaining USBs, to raise a bit more funds to support the production expenses I need to make (which I consider to be sunk costs).
4. Put on a show
Of course, an artist can’t get caught up in the business side of things – at the end of the day, it’s all about the performance. So I pulled out all stops to make the show as appealing and engaging as possible. From figuring out my look, to working on acoustic versions of my songs with my talented guitarist Pat, to sorting out harmonies with my guest performer and music bestie Zaleia, to incorporating audience participation wherever I could, I tried to make sure people who came for my show would enjoy it and remember it.
And of course, behind all of this…
5. I wrote a bunch of songs!!
None of this would even matter at all if not for the songs I’d written over the past year (or two). I’m really grateful to be able to have good friends to work on these songs with, who were there to give feedback or a second opinion, and be my sanity check whenever I wanted to put in something weird (not sure if one or two weird things may have slipped through though). Especially to the producers, Si Hao for being like the most talented and versatile producer ever plus a genuinely awesome person, and Riki for being so fresh and creative, and just super easy to work with. Very proud to have created music with awesome people like these guys!
For other aspiring musicians out there, starting out like me – this is by no means a “how to” of any kind. I’m also just starting out and figuring things out as I go. This is just my own story, of how I’ve gotten here, at the end of 2018. It’s also a bit of closure for me, so I can gear up for the exciting new plans ahead for 2019!
I’ll be focusing on a few things for 2019:
1. Web store
This should be up soon, as soon as I can figure out how to set it up, anyway!
2. Recording music
Now that my songs are more or less written, I foresee myself spending a lot of time in the studio recording and working on finalizing the production.
3. Releasing music!!!
No explanation needed!
Look out for my music in 2019! I hope you guys are excited!