All for the love of the job

All for the love of the job

If you get into your dream career, work hard - but have a back-up plan in case it ends, writes Adrian Wan

After more than three years as a singer, Jason Chan Pak-yu has become philosophical about fame, fortune and glamour: his sole target is to continue doing his 'dream job'.

The singer has recently been writing more songs following the release of his latest album in Blu-spec - the CD equivalent of Blu-Ray DVD.

Born in Hong Kong, Chan left for Toronto, Canada, when he was seven. Like many young Hongkongers, he would return to the city for most long holidays. His love for the city deepened over the years, so in April 2005, the then 21-year-old decided to live and work in Hong Kong.

'I'm a spontaneous person who doesn't make grand plans. On a whim, I booked a single flight, worked for two months and brought all my earnings - about C$4,000 [about HK$30,000] - and no clear goal with me to Hong Kong in June,' he says.

Chan landed a job with Apple Computer's customer services, which he held onto for several months before something magical happened. A friend in Canada secretly sent Chan's singing demo to record label Sony BMG. 'I had no idea until the label called me asking for an audition. Then they signed me,' he says.

Although overjoyed to have been signed, Chan takes nothing for granted. He is forever honing his skills, saying: 'I feel I'm just an average guy with a passion for singing. The only difference is I have the serendipity to call it my profession, so I have no excuse not to perfect my skills.

'I've met some great singers - much better than me - who just happened not to be at the right place or time.'

Having had a few years' experience, Chan now sees the industry differently. 'Show business is not as glamorous as I imagined. It's much more work. And the work-related stress is no lighter than any other professions ... we have fewer opportunities to prove ourselves,' he says.

'A clerk may switch to another company if he slips up in one, but a singer can't. Our mistakes are splashed in the public eye.'

It's not just celebrities' mistakes that are made public, but almost everything they do. Chan has come to realise there's no point getting annoyed.

He says: 'Paparazzi come with the job. I haven't committed any crimes, so I generally don't care about them. I still wear slippers when I pop downstairs for an ice lolly, which surprises many fans. But that's me - what I sell is my singing.'

Singers make less money now than in the past, thanks to pirated albums and illegal downloads. Even little known singers used to easily sell 100,000 copies of an album. Now, anything more than 10,000 is impressive, Chan says. He admits that singing earns him less money than he thought, but says he's not in it for the money. 'I'd settle for just enough money to eat every day as long as I can sing. And fortunately I've been coping.'

Having studied social work at university, Chan says he would become a social worker if the curtain ever falls on his musical career. Luckily, it doesn't look like that will happen any time soon. 'Few people can say they have their dream job. But this is my dream job,' he says. 'I know how lucky I am. I won't let it slip away.'

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