On 12th November 2017, David, our oldest, participated in the I Write & Sing My Song competition, organised by the Cheng San Community Centre in the midst of his Sergeant Course. (right)

A friend knew someone on the organising committee and asked if he would be interested in participating. It was really an impromptu thing.

He sent in an old composition and was called in for an audition. He cleared the audition and got us 10 tickets to go and watch him on that Sunday afternoon.

Music* as a Viable Career in Singapore

After the event, a poly student approached us for an interview. It was part of her journalism course requirement to source for stories and interview people. Her topic was on music* as a career in Singapore. So, she asked me, as a parent, for my views.

Practical me told her:

You can’t make it a career unless you are willing to go overseas and market yourself heavily. The market in Singapore is really too small. As a hobby, yes; as a side gig, yes. But as a fulltime career that can support a family, it is going to be tough. There will be a lot of sacrifices to be made if one chose that route.

* She was referring to music as a performing arts career, not music as a teaching career or the like.

Art? Dance? Music? Are they viable careers in Singapore?

Too Practical? Not Imaginative Enough?

And then I thought – maybe I was too realistic? Too Singaporean?


But look at people like Tanya Chua and Stephanie Sun. Even Dick Lee. They had to leave Singapore and market themselves to the audience in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan to “make it” as performance artistes. Even as songwriters.

And that is just the music scene. What about the dance scene, the theatre scene or the art scene? How many people have been able to make a sustainable and viable career in the performing and visual arts scene? Viable meaning able to support a basic nuclear family comfortably.

What About SOTA Grads?

Wasn’t it some time ago that Straits Times ran an article that noted that those who graduate from our very own SOTA* almost never end up in the arts scene?

Wait, let me go google for the article.

Found it!

Straits Times, 15th May 2017
“But over 70 percent of (SOTA’s) graduates have gone on to pursue non-arts related university courses, said Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu, in an address to award recipients.”

Why is this so? Is it because it is hard to find sustainable employment? Or is it because it is just something you do when you are young and without family commitments? Are we too practical a lot?

Can Music Be A Viable Career in Singapore?

What Does God Say?

Don’t get me wrong, whether it is practical or not, I will absolutely support my child if he/she really feels that this is what God has called him/her to do. But I would tell the child to seriously fast and pray about it. Sure, in every career he/she feels called to explore we need to pray about it. But especially so for entry into this industry.

Your turn

What do you think? Would you encourage your child to pursue a full-time career in our local arts scene? How would it impact the rest of your family if he/she has to go overseas to “make it”?

*SOTA – School of the Arts

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