I am a music composer in Hong Kong and I have been sharing my music creations on Youtube since 2007.
Please have a listen to some of my music, if you like it enough please continue to read my story.
I borrowed money from the banks to try to make my composing dream since 2007. If I didn't borrow, we would not have "my lonely road" and "the unfinished story" today.
After graduation from Berklee College of Music, I started to teach piano at some music centers. I thought, if I continued to teach music only, I would not have a chance to apply all the music composing techniques that I learned at Berklee. At the bottom of my heart I wanted to be a professional music composer. I wanted to spend time honing the craft of music writing, I wanted to practice some more. Time is the most valuable thing to a creator.
Teaching small kids piano does not require a lot of songwriting talent, I felt like it was a waste of time and a waste of what I had learned, so I decided to quit the teaching job and spent all of my time self-studying and working on my musical pieces. I had no income at all and the money from the banks helped me with my rent and daily expenses.
Being in debt was and has been very very stressful.
At the time I had 3 banks that I borrowed money from. I would borrow money from bank A to pay bank B, and then I would borrow money from bank C to pay bank A, and so on. I also had a student loan that I needed to pay back, the government sent lots of letters to ask me to pay. This made the situation even worse.
In mid 2009 I had to give up my working space because I could not afford the rent anymore. I was not able to make any more songs, so for a long time I stopped making music. The videos that I put up were made previously. This was a bad thing because, if you really want to stay on youtube, you cannot put out a video every few months, the audience will forget about you very quickly.
At the end of 2009 bank C approved my loan and I could pay the student loan finally. The interest rate was extremely high though, something like 30% apr. The interest was way higher than the principal. I almost went bankruptcy in 2011. About that time I wrote a sad song "drama of life" and the song actually reflected some of my personal emotions at that time.
I went back to teach piano 2 to 3 days per week to help me with my income. I did not want to teach every day though because I had to have time to create music. From 2007 to 2010 some audience on youtube bought my CDs and sheet music, that helped a little but not too much. Until a miracle happened in 2013, one of my videos "Top 10 piano songs" got lots and lots of views in 2013, as you can see from the youtube analytics image below, the youtube revenue that I got from that video helped me to pay almost 80% of the debts. Maybe God did not want me to die yet :)
Writing music is like a thirst and a hunger to me, I would do anything or sacrifice anything for it. Deep down I know that it is like a "calling", not too many people can write a good song, I happen to be one of those people who can do it and I should not waste that talent. I said to myself "I have the responsibility to do this", and I cannot wait until I am old to do this, because writing music is a strange thing, I cannot write a song that I wrote 7 years ago or 10 years ago anymore because my life has changed and my heart has changed. I probably cannot write "my lonely road" now because I have changed. I can write something else though, something that I could not write 10 years ago. I still have the desire to make new songs today, until one day I feel like it is the time to stop.
After 2013 my youtube revenue dropped like crazy as you can see from the picture above. I am not sure why, maybe youtube changed the algorithm and lots and lots of people started to post videos on youtube, that makes it very hard for your videos to be found. Actually if you look closely, the videos that I put up in 2014 and after have relatively small number of views. The youtube revenue is about $8 to $10 USD for every 10000 views, one cannot make a living from it unless he has thousands and thousands of views for each video that he uploads.
No one buys CDs and music downloads after 2014 as well, the world started to stream music only. People would leave comments saying they like the music very much but no one actually buys it though. I can only sell 0 to 1 CD per year now....One of my videos has over 3 million views but I remember I only sold one download of the album in so many years.
It is a very rewarding to have people love my music but financially it is not a good life for me. I had no money to give to my parents, I could not travel to anywhere in 10 years and I am now in great debts again. I cannot continue to live like that.
The things that I share in this post are very personal, these things happened in the past and it's now part of my life.
The ad revenue that a video can generate is so little that the creator can only get a few US dollars from 10000 views approximately. It is now harder than ever to make money from the Youtube ads. To make a living from the content one must have millions and millions of views for each video, this is really impossible for my channel. Donation from the viewers is necessary. For the past 10+ years on Youtube, I have been struggling how to make a living from the music. I could not control myself to make music though, I had a desire to have the music written. A lot of songs have been written and recorded now.
If you like the music, please send me some donations or purchase the music downloads and the sheet music, it will help me to get out of debts. I did not do a lot of cover songs in the past because I am a writer and I wanted to spend my time doing original stuff. It takes a lot more time and efforts to make original songs.
However, the "keywords" are so important for online videos so cover songs could be found more easily than original songs because people already know the songs and they would search for those. I think I already missed the best time to do cover songs because today there are too many cover songs already, so your cover may not be easily found as well. I think the best time to do cover songs on Youtube was 2006 to 2014. But doing covers at that time could get you into copyright troubles because Youtube did not have deals with the music publishers yet, another reason why I stayed away from doing it. Doing covers is actually easier and faster, so I will try to do some now. I could see a lot of people making a great living just by doing cover songs. It looks like after we enter the internet age, cover songs always get more attention than original songs, unless you have tons and tons of money to promote those original songs. One reason is because of the "keywords" that people search for and I believe people would pay good money to hear a song that they are familiar with. I have written a lot of original songs in the past 10 years, I hope to do some more, but I think it is time to do some cover songs as well.
Thank you for reading my story. Please buy some music downloads and sheet music, or simply donate any amount, thanks a lot!