We talk to Singapore-based musician Joie Tan, a 22-year-old who has amassed over 11K subscribers to her YouTube channel, about the reality of releasing your own album.
Joie Tan’s musical career began in 2008 on YouTube, where she’s built an incredible fan base amassing over 329,000 views of her most popular cover of Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon. Since then, she has reached an impressive 1,120,000 channel views. Now, she’s just released her first, self-funded album. She talks to us about how to turn a presence on Youtube from a hobby into a profession.
Joie Tan has been surrounded by music for most of her life. She grew up in a Hindu family singing Sanskrit songs in temples and credits her parents with moulding and nourishing her passion for music. As a child, she learnt everything from the guitar to the drums, singing and piano. It wasn’t a surprise, therefore, that she later went on to study at Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore, graduating in 2017.
Whilst she was already sure that music was more than a pastime, “I always knew it was special to me, not just a hobby,” it was there that she was exposed to an environment that lent a sense of professionalism to her passion. “It’s really different playing music and studying music. There, the lecturers are all very active in the music industry, so the information and advice they’re giving you is very applicable to current situations. Plus, having classmates made the experience so much more enriching. You’re constantly learning from people as passionate as you, but with different approaches, and you feed off each other.”
Joie discovered Youtube in 2008. By the time she graduated, she was featured on it regularly, and it was there that she built both the bones of her career and her confidence. Initially, she wasn’t keen to put herself front and centre, “I used to cover the camera with an eraser when I recorded myself!” but as she gained views, she gained in self-belief, before long putting out covers regularly to her growing set of followers. She’s keen to point out that running her Youtube channel is a job that has taken time and effort. “The game has changed completely because of new algorithms and how available music is now on Spotify. You have to constantly put out content. If you forget to post for a month, you get pushed down. Statistically, you just don’t show up anymore.”
Alongside that, Joie has been working on her self-funded album, which has just been released. “I had to take out a bank loan to pay for it, which was something I never thought I’d have to do until I applied for a mortgage. That loan has implicated my family, as they had to sign off on it, which was very scary.” Through the process, she discovered there are many costs involved. “Mixing a song costs about USD $2.5k, and you have to times this by 10, or however many songs you have. Then there are producer fees, the mastering of the tracks, paying musicians, online distributors, pictures for album publicity and press, the design of the album cover, a venue rental for launch, social media ads, permits, and it goes on! It’s all been a huge eye opener.”
Still, it’s all part of a journey Joie is keen to see out. “I am who I am today because of everything that has happened up to this very moment, and it’s a great feeling to know your music touched someone.” Follow her online to see her progress.