Salam everyone.

I have noticed two extremes of behaviour amongst our people. One are the budding entrepreneurs who turn every little passion of theirs into a profit (or not-for-profit) business, and the other are the young people who have absolutely no ambition.  Of course there are plenty of people in the gray area who are comfortable with following the motion, getting a job according to their qualification and going by national standards with regards to quality of living, cost of living, pay grade and lifestyle. Which one are you?

I’m mostly disturbed by how young people, in school, and after school, have no clue what they’d like to achieve in life. Perhaps, the lack of scarcity in the rise of free entertainment (social media and the internet) has made our young bored and passionless. (Or maybe our education system doesn’t instill any creativity at all).

When someone writes to me asking me what they should do next to achieve as a singer, I couldn’t find a single YouTube video on them. Are you lazy or do you really hope for the 1990s miracle of scoring a million dollar deal to drop on your lap?

I cannot begin to share what to do now and what to do next. You need to have a hobby, or an interest that you are passionate about. Get off Twitter and Facebook for a bit, and Google your interests. Find out what you can do about it for yourself; as an activity, as a job, or as a career.

I do not come from a tech background. I did not study it, nor did I go for classes. I am particularly interested in social media marketing and technology news, perhaps because as a child I was attracted to science fiction books and movies, and the dial-up internet. The transition, even though awkward, seem to make sense, doesn’t it?

If you are interested in music, it doesn’t mean you have to be a musician. You might not have been blessed with certain skills, but some attributes are acquired. There are many areas in the entertainment industry void of creative people with unique skills. You can be a manager, a booking agent, a personal assistant, music video director, public relations officer, online marketing agent, music distributor and the list goes on and on.  The energy that you have to be involved in the world of lights, camera, action can be channeled into so many different paths.

My point is, if you can dream about it, there are many ways you can achieve it. It’s never too early, and it certainly is never too late. Have a passion about something, and make a difference. Good luck!

Write to me if you have any enquiries at info@imranajmain.com

by Imran Ajmain
aku@imranajmain.com

1) Don’t give up your full-time job
If you’re singing at night clubs and trying to break into the pop commercial scene, that is going to prove tough as it can be a little sensitive for the audience made up of young impressionable people and their conservative mothers. If you have a day-time job, stick to it. If you’re still a student, study hard, get good grades and work your way to save up for your recordings. Right now, it’s the only way to sustain your interest in being a singer because shows in Singapore pay peanuts, and if you’re really good at what you do, mental note, the award shows don’t give out prize money. Reality check.

2) Record Radio Friendly Songs by Familiar People
Enough with the Ziana Zain covers. Even Ziana Zain don’t sing her own songs from the 90s anymore.

a) TV and Radio has put together dozens of songwriting contests for the past half a decade. If you don’t write your own songs, that is, find the award-winners on Facebook. Highly likely, they’d be able to get you a decent pop song and recommend you arrangers and studios where you could put it down in a recording.

b) Flip through the album sleeves of the better local albums. Find out who wrote your favourite local songs, who arranged them, and who produced them. Contact those people, find out how much it costs, and get it done.

c) Most arrangers/producers charge around the same amount. Insist on paying. A song recorded for free will not bind the musician to your ambition of going far in this line. They need to recognize your talent and understand that it might also help them in the long run. You pay them, expect a good job. If you don’t pay them, can you blame them when they go missing or give you half-baked goods? Always work with a producer. It’s too big a job to do yourself, especially at first go.

d) If you think its a good song, it might not be, after all. Ask for a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th opinion. The more brutally honest the critique becomes, the more likely it is true. Accept them with a pinch of salt, especially if you did everything yourself. Choose your song(s) well. Do it all over again if you need to. But don’t dwell on it.

e) And when somebody offers you a recording contract, you might get a song or an album done but that does not guarantee you that radio will play your songs, that you will get shows, or that the album will get promoted at all. It’s an entirely different story. My take: Do it yourself.

3) Make Friends With the Media, Whether They Like You or Not
There are only 2 radio stations, 3 lifestyle magazines, 2 television stations, and 1 newspaper in the Malay community. All this is necessary to get yourself known to the public. It can be too many or too little, depending on how you see it.

Not everybody will like you or your music, but not everybody will hate you either. If you’re having a hard time to break into the scene, it is easy to take it personally considering how small the community is. But when you’re new, just suck it in and go with the flow. If you’ve collected some accolades, you can choose to speak your mind, but be prepared for no reaction. It will keep you thinking and wanting to do more creative work. You will realize you can only speak through your art therefore you should keep doing it.

Rezeki can be found anywhere, nobody controls your ricebowl. Stop blaming others for your pitfalls. If they don’t like your first song, try again (and again, and again, and again).

4) Is A Music Video Necessary? If not, What is?
For your Facebook friends to unconditionally click Like, yes. But to spend money, time and effort on an actual music video, without knowing where to send it, or how to get returns from it, I say no. Not for a newbie. Organize mini-showcases regularly and build a fan-base. You can record that and put it online instead. You can earn from ticket sales, sell your CDs there, and get a chance to get better at what you do. Do it often. Make sure all your friends and family come down to support, the same way they would and should unconditionally Like your video on Facebook.

5) Aim Higher, Much Much Higher
Being a Singaporean-Malay artiste can sometimes limit you to the cabaret style TV variety shows, small-paying but plentiful Hari Raya engagements and awkward community centre gigs. If that is what you’re dying to do all your life, then I’m sorry, that is all there is for you. This is what you need to do to achieve better.

a) Speak better, both in Malay and English.

b) Representing yourself better (that means, dressing better, stop with the emotional Twitter updates and the youth-gone-wild Facebook pictures).

c) Avoiding negative people who keep telling you that you can’t make it in this line or you can’t do it in Singapore. The sacrifice kicks in when those people happen to be the ones you love.

d) Get to know industry people and keep asking questions.

e) Send your profiles to event organizers outside of the circle. Perform for corporate dinners, award shows, and send your songs to production houses to use for in television dramas.

f) Find out how you can take part in international festivals abroad.

e) Find out what an artiste manager does, and appoint your most trusted friend to do the job. It might be temporary, and you might learn more from it than your friend will. So just apply that knowledge to the next candidate.

g) Keep believing that this path was made for you no matter how big the hurdles are and how painful its obstacles can be. It is easy to give up when there isn’t anything to look forward to. So most importantly;

h) Create your own opportunities, do not wait for them to fall from the sky. Because, sweety, its not going to happen that way. Not for many of us, anyway.

  1. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
    Around 40.
  2. Which is worse, failing or never trying?
    Never trying!
  3. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
    Because we are preoccupied with looking for money to do the things we like; we end up spending it elsewhere.
  4. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
    I have done more than I said in the past 6 months alone. I’m safe.
  5. What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?
    To allow others to be right for a change.
  6. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
    Working at an ice-cream stand at the beach.
  7. Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?
    I love what I’m doing and that’s that.
  8. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
    Excel in school, start business earlier in life, and not waste my youth.
  9. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
    I could not control it 4 years ago, but I’m in full control of it today.
  10. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
    I worry all the time, for better or for worse.
  11. You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?
    I have defended my friends before, even those I wasn’t close with. I think we face this daily, directly or indirectly.
  12. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?
    Don’t listen to anybody who says that you cannot make it.
  13. Would you break the law to save a loved one?
    Yes, I would.
  14. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?
    Flash mobs are all the rage these days, ya?
  15. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
    Sip from a straw.
  16. How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?
    We are all born different.
  17. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?  What’s holding you back?
    Travel. I don’t have the time for it (yet). 
  18. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?
    No. I’ve let go of everything that has held me back or weighed me down.
  19. If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?
    I have already moved. Where I come from, they emphasize on academics and economy and disregard creativity and talent.
  20. Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?
    I push the elevator button once with my knuckle because everybody else’s fingers/hands have been there.
  21. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
    I like the stress of being smart. There’s no bliss in ignorance if it lingers in our mind.
  22. Why are you, you?
    I am the result of joyous folks, influenced by happy people, sad movies and music.
  23. Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?
    No. I could do more and I haven’t.
  24. Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?
    The latter has taken place. A good friend who moves away is worse.
  25. What are you most grateful for?
    My eyesight.
  26. Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?
    Never make new ones. I’ll base my future on my colourful past.
  27. Is is possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
    Yes. We can see truths in our own perspectives simply to shut ourselves up.
  28. Has your greatest fear ever come true?
    Drowning? Left at sea? Highly unlikely.
  29. Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?
    Yes, it shaped all of my music.
  30. What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?
    Riding on my sister’s bicycle and exploring my neighbourhood. It was special because nobody would let me. I sang out loud while speeding downhill. Nobody knew.
  31. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
    Yes, when I quit smoking recently.
  32. If not now, then when?
    Null
  33. If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
    Null
  34. Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?
    Yes. Although I feel guilty if she thinks I’m bored or she’s boring me.
  35. Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?
    Because the love of power overrides the love for a person.
  36. Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?
    Yes. Conspiracy theories, aside.
  37. If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?
    No, I’d work even harder.
  38. Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?
    More work, anytime.
  39. Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?
    Yes. Hungry and nervous for tonight’s show.
  40. When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?
    July 2006. Left Singapore to be in Kuala Lumpur.
  41. If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?
    My parents.
  42. Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?
    Perhaps, yes.
  43. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
    It’s like working in a candy shop and not see that it’s a happy place.
  44. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?
    There’s no such thing. You do it on the fly.
  45. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
    The last time hurt so much.
  46. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
    Swim without a t-shirt on.
  47. When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?
    In Azlan Abu Hassan’s awesome air-tight studio before recording.
  48. What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?
    Visuals and graphic design. Yes, I’ve become the Creative Consultant of PlayPause
  49. In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that?
    I keep a journal.
  50. Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?
    I’m a mix of both. I like to think I call the shots, but I always always always ask for 2nd, 3rd, 4th opinion.

Taken from 50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind. Try it.

Teks: Imran Ajmain

Saya rasa tiada keluarga Melayu yang tidak pernah terlepas dari menjadi mangsa fitnah atau gosip. Kekadang keputusan mereka untuk membuat sesuatu akan menjadi bahan bualan orang ramai. Kita semua pun mengenali sikap orang kita yang memang suka sangat komen tentang apa sahaja. Comment, complain, critisize, and sometimes condemn.

Kalau dahulu, bila seseorang anak perempuan muda dilihat keluar dengan lelaki bukan ahli keluarga, bermulalah kata-kata keji tentang gadis tersebut. ‘Saham’ beliau boleh turun, dan menjadi ‘tak laku’ kepada calon-calon mertua. Dengan peredaran waktu, semakin ramai yang berpelajaran tinggi, jangan cakap tiada gosip, malah, makin hebat!

Dalam dunia yang mementingkan orang lebih popular seperti ahli politik dan terutama sekali, artis, memang tidak sah kalau kita tidak terdengar gosip tentang mereka. Dengan adanya lelaman forum, ramai yang bersembunyi di belakang nama samaran dan seperti ‘bergotong-royong’ untuk menghina seseorang artis. Setelah terbitnya sebuah artikel tentang teman artis saya dan desas-desus tentang penceraian, saya bersembang dengan dia tentang forum-forum tersebut. Siap ada tukang urut, jiran, dan kawan sekolah lama turut mengambil bahagian untuk memberi maklumat terkini tentang proses penceraiannya. Bukankah itu mengaibkan seseorang? Ada masa pula si tukang urut itu menaip dengan jari-jarinya yang berminyak!

Kalau anda pernah melayari sebarang klip video artis Melayu di Youtube, pasti ada komen-komen dari orang ramai menghina artis tersebut. Penghinaan tersebut kekadang ‘counter-attack’ antara peminat dan pembenci artis tersebut. Artis yang berkenaan itu pasti tidak tahu dan mungkin tidak akan terjejas pun. Jadi apa faedahnya?

Yang saya tidak mengerti, ialah orang yang berani berkata-kata ini tidak terfikirkah, sekiranya ia berlaku pada dirinya sendiri ataupun kepada anggota keluarga mereka? Apakah kepuasan seseorang itu setelah berita buruk seseorang disebarkan? Tabiat kutuk-mengutuk ini biasanya akan ‘tempias’ pada anak-anak kita dan mereka juga akan turut kutuk-mengutuk apa sahaja yang mereka tidak bersetuju. Memanglah kita semua berhak menyuarakan pendapat tetapi kalau tiada sedikit pun komen yang membina, buat apa?

Of course, saya tidak terlepas dari tomahan. Katanya, dunia artis ini memang tidak sah kalau tiada gosip atau fitnah. Kalau dah tahu macam gitu, bukankah itu isyarat terbesar untuk kami semua berubah? Ada yang kata saya sekarang sudah sombong dengan orang kampung  sendiri hanya setelah popular suam-suam kuku dengan satu lagu di seberang tambak.  (Saya ada lebih dari satu lagu ya, ladies and gentlemen!!!). Kasihan ibu saya harus melayani kata-kata orang ramai yang sampaikan khabar angin kepadanya. Sikap ‘playing God’ dan pengecut ini akan memusnahkan segala potensi untuk membangunkan apa sahaja industri, bukan sahaja dunia hiburan. Pernah dengar tak ungkapan “Macam mana Melayu nak maju?” Can we stop saying it, do our own work, excel at it, and achieve our own goals? Marilah kita betulkan diri sendiri dulu. Sekiranya artis itu ada buat salah, bukan tidak bolehlah ditegur. Tetapi perlukah sampai hina keluarga mereka, caci maki hamun mencarut di laman web, menutup periuk nasi mereka, ada yang sampai ikut jalan syirik untuk jatuhkan artis tersebut. Kadang artis itu pun TIDAK TERJEJAS PUN. Itu namanya rezeki, dan ia tidak datang dari tangan-tangan pengkritik hebat di Internet!

Saya sarankan pada orang ramai yang ingin sangat menyumbangkan kata-kata mereka tentang sesuatu, untuk menghantar emel berbahasa betul pada segmen forum di akhbar harian terpilih dengan nama sebenar dan saranan yang membina, bukan menghina. Elak dari mengambil bahagian dari sesi kutuk-mengutuk artis atau sesiapa sahaja di YouTube atau di laman forum. Bila semua orang sedunia sudah bersepakat kutuk mengutuk, tidak hairanlah si Britney jadi gila!!!

P/s: Saya tiada komen tentang artis yang suka gunakan bahasa kesat! Hehe