Musical Touch, founded by Alvin Khoo in 2012, is a success story driven by an insatiable desire to transcend the ordinary and elevate the musical experience. A unique story of how a small-time freelancer who started his career performing in bars, hotel lounges, and weddings, moved up to creating Singapore’s Top Live Music Event company.
Edmund: When I first met Alvin, I thought that his success was driven by his talent in music to get to where he is today. But after having a long conversation with him, I realized that his specialty wasn’t just in music, but being able to pool in a wide array of skills to elevate his professionalism.
A Journey of Self-Reflection
In the early days of his music career, Alvin worked with many live wedding musical band companies. Being a newcomer in the industry, he shared ways he thought the businesses could do better by better marketing. However, his feedback was rejected by his bosses.
His wake-up call came during his class gathering when many of his peers were doing a lot better in life. They were living the dream he always wanted to have and he realized he was nowhere near them. While he was happy for them, it made him realize where he is now doesn’t give him the direction he needs to succeed.
It was time to take the leap of faith.
2 Years of Hard Growth
Returning to school at the age of 29 might appear unconventional, considering that many individuals have already moved past the concept of formal education.
However, Alvin recognized that pursuing this degree was essential to enhance his musical expertise and ignite his passion and motivation, propelling him to exert greater effort in his pursuits.
During his free time away from music, he started picking up reading. Learning from many great entrepreneurs and businessmen like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Robert Kiyosaki, and Jack Ma. His key takeaway from this experience is understanding the X Factor to grow in business.
Talent is just 10% of the skill and the X factor is the ability to amplify your skills.
In his equation, what the business X factor was lacking was marketing, branding, PR, and the ability to network organically with people to have organic lead generation and voice in the brand. He realized that skills can only take you so far and he needed to implement the things he learned into his everyday life.
Stepping Cold Turkey into Business and Networking
After graduating from Berklee College of Music, Alvin returned to Singapore with a determination to build something meaningful.
In the initial stages, he immersed himself in gig work to cultivate a robust personal portfolio. But he didn’t stop there; recognizing the importance of networking, he actively sought opportunities to connect with a diverse range of individuals.
Soon, his efforts bore fruit, attracting the attention of talent seekers who roped him in as a Music Composer for Advertising. This pivotal role opened doors to collaborations with major brands such as Gillette, Pantene, and Ferrero Rocher.
However, success wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter. The job, with its fluctuating frequency, demanded resilience. During the low periods of the job, while others were taking breaks, he used the time to acquire new marketing skills.
From delving into the intricacies of video production and mastering SEO (search engine optimization) to understanding the nuances of marketing and crafting effective sales funnels, he transformed downtime into an opportunity for personal growth.
Alvin is now not just a musician or a music composer, but a Jack of All Trade. As he says, a requirement all entrepreneurs need when starting a business.
It was then when his business was starting to make twice his income, he knew it was time to chase his dream. This time, with a strong sense of direction.
Grasping Opportunity and Taking Risk
The pursuit of becoming the Top Live Band in Singapore wasn’t merely a tale of organic growth through word-of-mouth. What truly sets Alvin’s brainchild apart from competitors is his adept grasp of marketing and branding, transforming it into a symphony that echoes far beyond the music itself.
He knew going back into the business, he could elevate the Wedding Live Band experience for newlyweds and create the best experience for them.
Unlike other businesses in the same arena, where events are often done on a touch-and-go basis, Alvin chose to distinguish Musical Touch by making a substantial investment in camera equipment. This commitment aimed to capture not just performances but the experience his clients have during the events.
Equipment aside, Alvin’s commitment to providing a unique experience took a daring turn when he introduced a groundbreaking service to the music industry—a 16-piece orchestra. However, the initial months proved challenging as the company lost over $70,000 in hopes that the audience would familiarize themselves with this avant-garde offering.
To compound matters, the onset of the pandemic disrupted businesses globally, affecting Musical Touch for over a year. Undeterred, Alvin took matters into his own hands, returning to the drawing board, absorbing knowledge, and expanding his skill set.
While many competitors remained in hibernation during the pandemic, Musical Touch emerged as a trailblazer. They wasted no time in pushing out and hosting the first virtual Live Band performance through Zoom. So while others were waking up from hibernation after the Covid restriction easing, Musical Touch was already setting up events for their clients.
This adaptability not only sustained the business during trying times but propelled Musical Touch to secure the coveted number 1 spot in music performance. The Orchestra performance which everyone thought would fail, ended up becoming a profitable service and clients are now starting to accept and enjoy this new level of service.
The journey wasn’t without challenges, but as the final notes resonate, it’s clear that for Musical Touch, the pursuit of excellence is not just a melody—it’s a powerful symphony of innovation and triumph.
Hearing From Alvin About Entrepreneurship
While social media loves to emphasize entrepreneurship as a fast track to financial prosperity, Alvin advocates a more profound approach. He believes that every entrepreneur should prioritize connecting their passion with a broader audience. In his eyes, true fulfillment comes not just from monetary gains but from the ability to create a meaningful impact.
Contrary to the belief that entrepreneurship is a shortcut to immediate wealth, he emphasizes that the journey he faced was often marked by periods of flat-line income. It may take years before the rocket ever takes off and most people would have already given up halfway.
In what he aptly terms the “Valley of Disappointment,” During these challenging phases, staying committed to the passion that fueled the entrepreneurial journey becomes crucial. It’s a reminder that success is a journey, not a destination, and persistence in the face of adversity is the true hallmark of an entrepreneur.
Lessons Others Should Know
A great deal of Alvin’s success lies in his determination to self-learn, navigate through books, and endless practice sessions. However looking back, he regrets that it consumed a large portion of his precious time.
After learning through courses and finding the right people to learn from, there came the sudden realization that the whole journey could have been expedited by a staggering 90%.
Instead of years spent in trial and error, he gains insights that propel him forward with precision. Yet, as the journey unfolds, it becomes clear that mentorship is not a silver bullet.
You still need to try.
At 39, having traversed the ebbs and flows of entrepreneurship, he emphasizes the essence of thoroughly enjoying what you do in life.
The corporate world, with its intricacies and demands, didn’t resonate with him. The decision to carve his path, and build something from nothing, became a pursuit of his genuine happiness. Adding the realization that probably half of his life has already unfolded adds a sense of urgency to the narrative.
Alvin warns the danger of being an employee is far more unpredictable – Having the constant pressure to perform flawlessly, the looming threat of job insecurity, and the sobering reality that one’s position could be replaced in hours.
Was the Journey Worth it
For Alvin, the most fulfilling aspect lies in the joy of seeing his business thrive. The journey from conception to fruition, building something meaningful, ranks among the best feelings he has experienced.
In a poignant message to dream-chasers, Alvin encourages everyone to strive for their aspirations. He dismantles the common excuses that hinder dream pursuit, from the exhaustion of a 9-to-5 job to the distractions of modern life, such as Netflix and family commitments.
The journey of entrepreneurship requires social sacrifices and develops the importance of self-investment. Skills that other aspiring entrepreneurs should be wary of. He ends off with a question to others looking to follow in his footsteps:
Are you determined to learn?