When we mention the most famous Malaysian singer by the number of streams their songs get or followers they have on social media, you may think of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza… or Yuna, among others.
We don’t know how to tell you this, but Faith Ling, an 18-year-old Malaysian girl, has recently gotten over 120k++ plays on Spotify on her song, I Don’t Know How to Tell You This! Just to compare, that’s MORE than some songs by Too Phat and Jaclyn Victor! But ofcos not Dato’ Siti la.
She didn’t see this coming, ugaiz. Even she herself was shocked! We invited Faith to our Cilisos office for a little chat to know more about her little surprise, and the first thing we found out was…
Majority of her listeners aren’t even from Malaysia
Most of you may not even know the name Faith Ling, what more of her songs. So, it’s no surprise la how her listeners aren’t even from Malaysia.
But what’s surprising is the fact that her listeners are mostly from the United States, particularly from Los Angeles. And guess which Malaysian singer who has similar audience? Yeap, it’s Yuna who is based there.
But how da heck did the ang mohs managed to find her song since Faith is based in Malaysia? Faith shared with us the statistics on where her listeners discovered her song. Most of her listeners found her song from playlists personalised by Spotify. If you are a Spotify user, you would notice how Spotify would create personalised playlists like the Daily Mix, Release Radar and Discover Weekly based on the songs you listen to and your habits on Spotify. This would mean Spotify knows which type of songs you listen to, save in your playlist, heck even the songs you skip!
“I found it through my discover weekly a couple months ago!” – Bethanie Arriola, a US-based user who follows Faith, told CILISOS.
Aside from Bethanie who added Faith’s song on her playlist called Sleep/Acoustic, most of Faith’s listener came across her song on another playlist called Unrequited Love by Sayed who is also her friend from college.
Sayed, who is from Tanzania, shared with us how he knew about this song when Faith performed it at their college’s Talent Night rehearsal. He remembered asking Faith if the song is up on Spotify and when she said yes, he went back home and listened to it on repeat.
“It really did manage to express my feelings in a way that I couldn’t come about to doing myself, so it was honestly a no-brainer for it being the first song on my Unrequited Love playlist.” – Sayed shared.
He also shared that while he couldn’t view where his listeners are from, he knew some of them are from the US, Singapore and Malaysia. But how did this down-to-earth girl even begin writing her own songs?
It seems like she’s a lil Taylor Swift in the making
Faith started performing at a church she goes to through musicals like Christmas musicals besides serving in the worship team. And just like all of us, she also has something she likes to do, which is writing short stories and poems.
But what had gotten her into writing and performing her own music was… a crush she had on a boy who didn’t like her back. Oh wait, doesn’t that sound like… Taylor Swift?
But unlike Taylor, this incident inspired Faith to write a Christian song about it and upload it on YouTube. She received compliments from those who listened to her song and was even invited to perform at her church by her leader who encouraged her to go for it (singing and performing).
For your info, there’s an open mic community called the Open Mic Malaysia which Faith joined around July last year. She started doing shows around Klang valley hosted by the community. She started off doing normal shows but has the opportunity to perform feature (aka main act) shows whereby she has all 45 minutes for herself to perform.
Throughout that one year, she met a lot of experienced singers such as Russell Curtis, who invited her to perform at his place in Taman Tun and Reza Salleh who gave her some advice on how to pursue her passion in the industry. Unlike in the movies where singers get picked up by recording labels, she shared how she values having musician friends like Reza Salleh. And, no, things like getting picked up doesn’t reeeaally happen in real life. At least, not yet for Faith. 🙁
She also added how musicians typically upload their songs on Spotify if they’re confident with their piece. But she had an entirely different reason for uploading her song on Spotify:
“Basically, there’s this competition for people who writes song and when you submit your entry, your song will be uploaded on Spotify as well. And my friends were like, “Ohh, this is so cool”. It was sponsored by Aloft Hotel, I think. It’s like an online thing. They don’t have the competitions anymore but they do host open mics at their hotels.” – Faith Ling shared with us.
Faith competed against all sort of singers including professional ones who have their songs recorded in proper studios and have proper professional photos of themselves on their song cover. One of them is Beverly Matujal who has been featured on The Star.
Although she didn’t win the competition, it opened an opportunity for her song to be discovered on Spotify. And that’s not all…
She may have earned more than RM2k, although she only records her song in her tiny studio
Based on the pic above, can you guess how much it cost for Faith to record her songs? Faith shared how she only uses her laptop or phone camera to record a video of her singing. If she is a bit rajin, then she will use a DSLR la. She also added how she had just recently bought a RM15 microphone from a bookstore. This means good audio but terrible footage.
Faith actually has a YouTube channel called bobcharlieeee, hence why she has to record herself singing. However, her videos on YouTube didn’t receive the same hype as her song on Spotify.
So, is it worth it for singers to upload songs on Spotify?
Some of you may be familiar with how YouTube works. For those who don’t, YouTube generally pays YouTubers if they set their channel for monetization. YouTubers rely on views and advertisers to advertise on their videos as they will get a portion of the revenue.
Luckily, singers don’t have to face all that on Spotify. Spotify will pay musicians who upload their songs on the platform even if their songs only get a single play. Faith explained how musicians will be paid USD0.006 per stream. But there’s a catch.
“You’ll have to upload (your songs) through a third party distributor, and depends which distributors you upload to. Some distributors let you upload for free, but they take a fraction of your revenue. Others, you have to pay, but you get all the revenue.” – Faith shared.
Since Faith uploaded her song through a paid service called Tunecore, she will receive all the revenue. Do the maths and ugaiz may find out that she may have roughly gotten more than RM2k la (after exchange rate, of course).
But nothing comes for free though…
You need hard work and some luck to be like Faith Ling
This may sound cliche as heck but, yes, you’ll need lots of hard work. But beyond that, a good support system is also another reason why she got this far. Faith adds that her mother will watch her perform and give honest, constructive feedback so Faith knows where she can improve.
That’s not all. Her friends who have watched her perform support her too. Sayed described his experience watching Faith performing in college as:
“She gave us a powerful performance of her original, I Don’t Know How To Tell You This, and she managed to bring a number of us in the audience to tears with the raw emotions that she was effectively conveying with her music.” – Sayed
We also asked if other regular singers could end up like her and she said yes. She believes that if a person who is okay but continue to persist and press on what he/she does, he/she will be able to go far than talented people who don’t work as hard.
Hard work may get you somewhere but there are also other factors that got her song that many streams la. Faith has a strong fan base aka her friends especially Sayed who is active on Spotify with his playlist. Having a strong fan base may help your song to be featured on Spotify’s Release Radar playlist. This playlist basically provides users with new releases from the singers they already follow.
But what if you want your song to be discovered on Spotify’s Discover Weekly? Then, you may wanna consider to have your song added to multiple playlist and build engagement with your listeners aka make them favourite your song or add it to their playlist.
Despite all that, you may also need a lil bit of faith and luck to be successful like Faith Ling. 🙂
[To listen to Faith’s songs on Spotify, click on this link.]