Jon Leong gets ready for a reboot
GONE are the days of minders fussing over home-grown singer Jonathan Leong.
The 31-year-old singer, whose contract with Hype Records ended last year, is now going independent. And he's pretty happy being a one-man show.
See, Leong - who was propelled into the limelight in the second season of singing competition Singapore Idol in 2006 - is now his own manager, producer, publicist and even Web designer.
"Right now, I do everything on my own. I'm very much guerilla style. I keep the budget almost close to nothing," he said.
"I like it this way. It's a bit tough, because now I have to get the hang of website design."
Online is the way this singer-songwriter will be going and he has plans to launch his official website next month.
Leong is working on tweaking the website template and incorporating music videos, as well as a "shopping-cart system" to sell tracks on the website.
However, he knows that it will be tough balancing act.
"The issue is how to balance the creative side of things and how to continue making a sustainable, full-time career out of it," said the singer.
The political-science graduate managed to get some answers on how to manage his singing career at the inaugural Music Matters Academy last month.
The two-day mentoring programme connected budding artists and offered tips from industry veterans of the likes of Sire Records president Seymour Stein, who discovered pop diva Madonna.
One issue addressed by the experts was whether it was still viable to produce CDs.
"Releasing physical copies of music really (adds to) your costs. What if nobody buys it? Then I will have a few cartons of CDs," said Leong.
Taking heed of this advice, he is selling his digital music online.
His new single, Colours, Needles And Stories, will be out on his site from July 1 and can be downloaded for free for a limited time upon signing up to a mailing list.
Once averse to social-media platforms, as he found it too "self-centred", the earnest singer now connects with fans using his blog and accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
But he was quick to add that "selfies", an urban term referring to self-portrait shots, are still not his kind of thing.
He has discovered the wide reach of social media, which he used to publicise his showcase last month.
Held at an auditorium at Lasalle College of the Arts, there was an overwhelming turnout of 150 people for the event, more than the expected 40.
Leong said: "It was full and people ended up standing at the wings and sitting on the stairs. That really encouraged me."
The Lasalle campus in Bugis was also where Leong has been studying contemporary music for the past year.
Going back to school was a decision he made last year - a time when he felt "lost".
Then, his contract with Hype Records ended, and so did his two-year stint in the Resorts World Sentosa's circus-theatre production, Voyage De La Vie.
Leong said: " I didn't know what else I could be doing in the music (industry) here...I really didn't know where I was supposed to head to.
"I thought it would be good to take some time off and get back to learning."
Now that he's graduated with first-class honours in his bachelor's degree in contemporary music this month, Leong is ready to "reboot" his singing career.
He will be performing regularly at club AquaNova in Clarke Quay from next month. In August, he will head to South Korea to sing at the Chilpo International Jazz Festival.
This year marks a decade since he's been in the music scene, starting from the days his band, Reverie, plied the pub circuit in 2003.
The uncertainty of a music career makes it a challenging path, and it's one that, in his words, involves a lot of heartache, disappointment and rejection.
Lamenting that it's a struggle as he's getting older, he said: "I'm not a teenager any more, my expenses are a bit heftier. I want to get married, start a family and get a home, it's really costly here (to do so)."
The down-to-earth rocker revealed that he's thinking of settling down with his fiancee, Ms Jeneen Goh, in a year or two.
While Leong never reached the ranks of local singers Stephanie Sun or JJ Lin, he's satisfied and thankful for all the opportunities - including his debut album, Mysterious Hero, released in 2011 in Mandarin.
He said: "I wouldn't change a thing. I've been very lucky and blessed, compared to a lot of others here...Now it's just onward, and the next step is digital."
Check out Jonathan Leong's songs at his website, www.jonleong.com