Digital Nomad Stories

A Glimpse into the Life of a Nomadic Music Transcriber

September 11, 2023 Anne Claessen Season 2 Episode 147
Digital Nomad Stories
A Glimpse into the Life of a Nomadic Music Transcriber
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

WeiLe's story of persistence and finding his unique niche will inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and pursue your dreams. From playing piano in bars and teaching music, to creating a thriving business that allows him to travel the world, WeiLe's journey is filled with both trials and triumphs. He dishes out some solid advice for those aspiring to follow in his footsteps - focus on your strengths and be patient, because success does not come overnight. 

But what does a day in the life of a nomadic musician really look like? Tune in to find out.

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Speaker 1:

Hey Nomads, welcome to Digital Nomad Stories, the podcast. My name is Anna Claessen and, together with my co-host, kendra Hasse, we interview digital nomads. Why? Because we want to share stories of how they did it. We talk about remote work, online business, location and dependency, freelancing, travel and, of course, the digital nomad lifestyle. Do you want to know more about us and access all previous episodes? Visit digitalnomadsdoriesco. Alright, let's go into today's episode. Hey, hey, nomads, welcome to a brand new episode of Digital Nomad Stories. Today I'm here with Ray Le. He is a music transcriber and arranger and he is a digital nomad, and he's here today to share his story with us of how he became a digital nomad, because I believe it's been kind of a journey to get here, to be fully nomadic and travel world or working remotely, so I'm really, really excited to have him here today. Ray Le, welcome to the show.

Speaker 2:

Hi, it's great to be here and thanks for having me to be in this show, and I'm excited to what I have got to share with everybody.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'm really curious also about your profession, because what do you do exactly?

Speaker 2:

Right now I'm working as a music transcriber and arranger Technically this doesn't have a title for my job and I just give myself this name like a music transcriber and also arranger, because these two are the main things that I basically do which people send me a piece of music and I would do the transcription for them. So I listen to music and I transcribe the music into sheet music and that's the service I'm providing. And the second service I provide is to arrange music. So let's say they have like an orchestra piece. They want to reduction it down to like just a solo piano piece, and that's what I'm doing to arrange that to an easier version for any ensembles, any custom. So it depends what they want. So that's what I'm doing.

Speaker 1:

That is awesome. Well, I have definitely never met a digital nomad who worked as a music transcriber and arranger. That is a very unique digital nomad job, I think.

Speaker 2:

I think so too, because I have met a lot of digital nomads, like going around, like everyone is telling me the same thing. And then it's like, because usually you meet people they are doing blogger, social media, like marketing or I don't know, like developer, and then like when people ask me is like what is that? Like can you tell us more about your job? I think it's kind of a new thing because there's still a market for it, like it's not overcrowded with all many people.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, how did you get into this in the first place? Like, is this also what you did when you just worked in your home country and then you just took it on the road, or did you have to really change your profession to be able to take it on the road with you?

Speaker 2:

Actually this goes away long back, like how it actually brought I'm being where I am right now, because I was never a music transcriber or arranger. I started way like my, I think, probably after I finished university. The first job I had was a musician, so I just played piano in five-star hotels. I just got contract like jumping around bars and play gigs and I played the piano that's my major instrument and then I just got like tired of playing music and when you play music for like every day, it just gets me feel a little bit losing the passion for music. So I decided to change a career and then I became a music teacher in an international school, but also that doesn't satisfy me and I always love to travel, even like I always take vacations, and I was wondering like how can I become like to be location independent? So I was trying to figure out many ways to do that but I couldn't and I tried doing photographer, I tried to be a blogger, travel blogger, but I am just not good at those things. And then one day I met this one. He's one of my good friend now. His name is Robert. He's a travel blogger. He has been doing travel blogging since 2007 or 2008 and he actually suggested me this idea.

Speaker 2:

I wanted to do something that you are really good at, instead of trying to be somebody else, because that's what I was trying to be. Because back in like 2015, that's what I was trying to figure out a lot of things like people do trading, travel, blogger, instagrammer but I was never good at those things. And then I'm good at music. That's what I'm good at. So I figured out what was I good at other than playing piano, like that I can give a service to other people. And then I thought of, why not I try to? You know, you have to try everything. I just try to do music transcription. I tried to.

Speaker 2:

I started on Fiverr then it was still a new thing back in 2015. I didn't have a lot of customer. But I start to have like some clients, but it's not regular. And then I got more inspired and then I make a website and I design it and sell my service and have to work on everything you know, like SEO, like the marketing, and then let people know who you are and then just keep doing. And then it wasn't monetized at first, like I don't get a lot of jobs in a month, and then after like one or two years and then I started to get my pace up and I got like more and more businesses coming in and then I was too busy that I had to quit my musician's job and then I just travel full time. That time that was since 2019.

Speaker 1:

Wow, awesome. So what I really love about your story is that I think it sounds very familiar. You know we want to be a digital nomad, we want to be location independent, so we try to do what everyone is doing, like you said, you know you're trying marketing, blogging, coaching, you know, whatever these really big industries, these jobs that many digital nomads have, or businesses that many digital nomads have, but it's all new skills, right, it's? You have to basically start from scratch. And then what I'm hearing you say that it was actually probably easier to translate the skills that you had and that you already had and that you have been working with for years and years as a musician and just found a creative way to do that remotely. I think that is really interesting.

Speaker 1:

And the second thing that I just wanted to point out of what you just said, which I also think is so important to know for audience, is that it was not okay. I start this thing, it just takes off immediately and here we go, travel full time, never look back. But there was the two years where you did that at a side hustle that you needed. Basically, you just needed that time to pick up the pace, create a website, find your first few clients. You know, have those experiences. So I think it's also really important to highlight that part of your story that it was not just okay, let's go and immediately it was a huge success, but there was there was time involved with getting to the successful business that you have now. Right.

Speaker 2:

Yes, I think also to give it time and one of the biggest lessons throughout these past few years and throughout my previously the digital novel journey before you become one or before you start to see realize any income from it like a lot of people gave up and I just think like no matter what you do, if you have to believe in yourself and try the best you can and make it work, you only give up when there's really no ways to do. I wasn't a blogger. I realized I really I'm really bad at writing and because English is not my first language and it's so difficult for me to write in English, to try to try blogging in English. So you have to find something you are really good at and that's your passion and give it time and don't give up. Figure out some ways that how you can benefit other people, to use your passion to benefit other people.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, exactly how you can provide value. I think that is a really great point and, yeah, I think it's so awesome to hear how you have been able to grow it. Your first site hustled to then take it full time, take it on the road. I'm also wondering what does a typical day look like for you, or maybe a typical week? Do you have like Monday to Friday, kind of like nine to five hours that you work, or do you work weekends? Do you work every day? Do you work half days? Please tell me a little bit more of what what your schedule looks like usually.

Speaker 2:

Sure, of course I can tell you how my schedule is look like. So I do not really have a typical schedule because I am like a freelancer, so I have my own business, my own clients. So I, when I get emails from my clients, they go through my website. They are questioning me, inquiring about the services I'm providing. So normally in the day, in the morning, I would just wake up I normally work in a day and then I would check emails. I will see what they, what inquiries I do have, and then I would just offer like a quotation for them how much I would do for all these transcription they have asked for, and then I would just work on it and then usually I would take a lunch break because I need I need to have like a break in the afternoon I'm not productive enough to know and usually I will continue back at night For the time working time.

Speaker 2:

I do not have like a specific time, so it basically based on everything I schedule. Like if I want tomorrow to be off day to day, I have to work more if I want, if I know something is coming up. Especially, this is rather difficult when I'm traveling, because I don't travel like full time I try to do that and I find it's quite tiring. So I usually choose like a home base. Right now, I base back in my country and then I'll just plan ahead like where I'm going to travel and then probably I'll spend one month in like Vietnam or one month in somewhere.

Speaker 2:

The longest like I would go is like just six months. I would not stay longer than six months and then that is the tougher time to to schedule my time and with my clients and all. First I do have to do calling with the client because all is true email so I do not have like track time restriction at all. So basically I just everything by email and then I just have to plan everything ahead. If I have a travel plan, I just swap around, yeah, yeah awesome.

Speaker 1:

So that means also, as a freelancer, do you find it difficult to take time off to really say like, okay, this whole week I'm not going to work. Is that possible or is that difficult? Or do you have no problem with that?

Speaker 2:

That is a very good question, because I am a workaholic.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I do not give myself time off. Sometimes I just, oh my God, I want to do this job. Like I want to do this, I have to do this job. I'm going to take this Like I just keep taking it. Like, which makes our work like that balance is harder, but I still manage to do that. It's just like. Probably I'm not good at taking a whole day off. Usually I just work at least one or two hours. That's the minimum. Yeah, so I would at least be on my laptop. I'm just addicted to my laptop.

Speaker 1:

It's difficult. It's so difficult, I know.

Speaker 2:

It sounds so good, right you?

Speaker 1:

can work from anywhere, but you also kind of have to work from anywhere.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and the thing is I love to do what I do, so I don't feel like it's a stress for me. So, like I feel for me, I mean, this is what my passion is. Like. I sometimes like my clients. They send in some music. Oh, this is like a what a nice music to listen to in the morning while sleeping, my coffee in a coffee shop, and then, okay, what a good day, I know some new songs and then I'm going to transcribe, I'm going to listen it for like 10 times more at least and then, yeah, that's, I love it. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

That sounds so good. I was also wondering did you also find your passion back, kind of like, did you get your passion for piano playing back, since you're not doing that, or like at least not doing the gigs professionally full time anymore, did you kind of like reinvent that part of your career as well as a hobby, or how did that go?

Speaker 2:

I have to be honest that I don't spend much time playing the piano anymore as I used to be.

Speaker 2:

I used to be, like you know, when I'm free I'm just going to sit down in front of the piano. Oh, I want to learn this new song, like just play for fun, just learn how to play. And then, with what am I doing now? If I'm traveling, of course, like I cannot bring like a keyboard or a piano to going around, and it's not easy to find a piano somewhere, unless I go for like some jam session in somewhere, and you know, to show off my rust finger, rusty finger, who doesn't play the piano for a long time anymore or when I'm back home, if I allow myself, like you know today, don't work tonight, don't watch TV, don't work, don't go out, just play the piano a bit Like learn some new songs, find some passion back and you know I still need to. It's important like because one, if you don't practice you will forget right, like. So I always try to give myself some time when I'm back home to touch the piano again.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah it's. I can imagine that it's difficult to be consistent with that. I mean it's difficult to be consistent with anything. Did you find anything that works for you on the road to have kind of a creative hobby or passion? Or is traveling itself? Is that enough for you as a hobby? And then you have your piano when you're home and, of course, your creative career.

Speaker 2:

Regarding my hobby, I actually did not really have a hobby before and then, until like in 2019, I it was my first time being as a digital man that I went. I went to like I think it's Danang, Vietnam, and also that year I spent quite a lot of time in Danang, Vietnam, and also in Bali, and then I spent a lot of time. I it was my first time getting into yoga, and then I just love it and then I just started doing that. That becomes my hobby since then. And then the pandemic happens in 2020 and I was stuck back at home that time I'm not ever anywhere else and it was just right after I came home from Bali and then I just started doing yoga and that has become a hobby for me. And, yeah, until today, I'm still practicing it almost every day and I'm looking forward to doing it in some other countries too.

Speaker 1:

Cool. I think that's also a great hobby when you're traveling, because there are yoga studios literally everywhere. Like everywhere you go in the world, there is yoga in my, in my experience, and even in remote places, you can always do your own practice when there's no studio around, so that's actually a great travel hobby. I think that is awesome. Now, you also mentioned that when you first started traveling on your digital nomad journey, you went all in traveling full time, and that was a lot. So I'm guessing that something that you learned was to slow down and to spend half of the time in your home base and then half of the time traveling. What are some other things that you learned since you started your digital nomad journey in 2019?

Speaker 2:

I think yes. First of all, you need to slow down because when I first become a digital nomad, I was too excited. I was. I have plans from from January, throughout this, through December, like all the travel plans, like each month I travel to a different country.

Speaker 1:

It was really tiring and I was still new.

Speaker 2:

I was still new to the lifestyle and I was just exciting oh my God, like it's, my dream has come true. I literally like, oh, my dream has come true, I'm going to visit like all my bucket list, now I want to visit here this month, next month, I'm going to go here and there, and then I also have to work at the same time Just find like, oh my God, this is not easy, but I love it. And then, but after you do it for some time already, actually, why not just slow it down a little bit, enjoy the place more, stay in one place, just do nothing. You don't have to do. You don't have to go visit every places that everyone says you should. You should just do whatever you feel like. And yeah, work is also important. Like you have to like.

Speaker 2:

Sometimes people think, like this lifestyle that we have if you are an entrepreneur or like freelancer, you make, you have built your lifestyle like this as a digital nomad, and then it has to be maintained as well, because we don't have like a boss, we don't work for anybody, we have to work for ourselves. It's like this job is like my baby, it's my goal, like it makes money for me, and then I have to take care of it like not just like play time all the time and then if you travel around all the time is a little bit difficult. So I recommend like to just have like a home base. You can be in a new country that you know what being, just spend some a few months there and then you can set it down a little bit and then just travel around that region, like during the weekends. I think that is the one of the lessons I learned.

Speaker 1:

So I think what you're saying is sustainability is really important, like you want to not just have this lifestyle now and travel fast and you know, focus maybe too much on travel, but you want to make sure that it's sustainable and that you can keep doing this. And to be able to keep doing it, you need your business to do well, so you just need to invest time and effort into creating a really strong business for yourself so that you can actually keep going and also that you don't burn yourself out by traveling too fast. That has definitely been my experience as well. I was exactly. I had the same experience when I started.

Speaker 1:

I was like let's go and just traveling around all the time, like literally a few weeks in a country and then also traveling around that country and it's, it's difficult. It takes a lot of travel planning, a lot of time in buses and on planes and, yeah, that that takes a lot of time and mental energy. I would say what are some of the places where you've been and where you just had the best time as a digital nomad, where it was just so livable and easy to live there, easy to work there? Any like highlights in your, in your travels?

Speaker 2:

Yes, I do have one, and it was just last year. I spent like two months in Turkey. I think that is a really good place for me. I'm not sure if it's a digital nomad place like where you can meet other digital nomads, because I did not. I was just meeting random people there and then I just find myself enjoying it and then I just stayed as long as until like to it was. It was also like my first country to visit after the reopening, since the pandemic, and then I chose Turkey because it was always like I want to be there and I really interested in their culture and then it surprised me and then I find it also it's quite digital nomad friendly. There's a lot of cafes and it's quite affordable and it's interesting and I think people should pay a visit to that country and see.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Okay, that goes on the list. I haven't seen it yet, so that sounds actually really good. It sounds like it has everything we want, I mean affordable, easy to work cafes, I think. Often the weather is also supposed to be really nice, which is also a big plus, for me at least.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, sounds great. No, but when I was there it was winter and no, it was spring and it's snow, so it's not that good that time.

Speaker 1:

Okay.

Speaker 2:

It was. It was just like a sudden snow, like it wasn't expected. It's strange weather that time.

Speaker 1:

Oh, okay, okay yeah, unpredictable.

Speaker 2:

Yes, it's really unpredictable, and also because of that I got to see my first snow in my life. I mean, I'm from Malaysia, I don't have snow.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, that's pretty cool, that's pretty special.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I have seen snow, but I have never seen snow falling, so it was like I was excited.

Speaker 1:

Awesome.

Speaker 2:

Oh my God, everybody is just staying in and I'm just going out underprepared, I'm just freezing outside right in front of the hard guest of here. But it was amazing. It was amazing. I love the feeling for the first time Now now, I don't want to winter anymore.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, once was enough, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, besides that, because that time I was traveling from spring all the way, I think, seven months. I was last year after the COVID-19 and then I lost a lot of times. I feel like everyone lost two years and I did not travel for like two years. And especially in Asia, they are very strict with the restriction. They don't even let us, like for Malaysia, they don't even let us to go out of the country, so like right after they open. Yes, I needed a long one, so I just traveled to Turkey and I traveled all around Eastern Europe and I went to also. I spent there's only two places. I spent a long time Turkey and also Spain. I mean, it wasn't my first time in Spain, but it was my first time in summer in Europe, so it was something new to me and because normally before I went to Europe in the previous years when I was working for a net lawyer.

Speaker 2:

That time I only take a go for vacation when I have like off days, which is always during the winter time, and then that's always when I'm visiting Europe. It's like winter and I thought it was fun. And then this last year I went there in summer. I was like, wow, this is so different. Now I know why people love summer. I mean, I would never understand, because I'm from like a tropical country and always have like summer. I need some cold. But now people make festival in Spain, a lot of things happening. I spent like three months in there and I love every single day when I was there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's a whole different vibe. I think A summer in Europe or winter in Europe is just people are different. They smile. In summer, everyone is outside, there's things going on. Yeah, it's true, it's very, very different. You have a very good point there and I love Spain. Spain is actually my next trip. I have a few months in Spain planned at the end of the year.

Speaker 2:

Oh my god, I'm very excited about that, yeah, and you will enjoy it for sure.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think so too. What are your plans for the rest of the year? Do you have any travels planned or not yet?

Speaker 2:

Actually, I do not really have a fixed plan. It's just something in my mind and idea, because I recently came back from Sri Lanka. Last month I spent like a month in Sri Lanka. It was wild, and then it was like really hot there, and then, yeah, I just want to rest a little bit back at my home now, and then what I'm planning? Probably I'm not sure. I'm thinking about Laos or South Korea, so, but there's no fixed plan, so I'm not sure yet.

Speaker 1:

Okay, okay, so just an idea, and we got to see how it all plans out and how it all happens. Okay, awesome, thank you.

Speaker 2:

And it also depends on like because, like, our time is flexible, right, as a digital nomad, you have flexible time. So usually when I'm checked the flight ticket, like oh, so you're going to this, to this destination let's say, going to Phuket is like, okay, I'm going to change my destination, just go there first and then yeah it also. It also depends on like manufacturers, like the prices for flights.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean that freedom to just take whatever flight is cheapest or works best for us. It's, it's very nice and it's great to also leverage that freedom and, you know, take advantage of that Absolutely Awesome. Well, is there anything else that is interesting that you're working on now in your business, or anything else on, like the non travel side that you're working on that that we can, you know, be excited for you about?

Speaker 2:

I just I recently have like an idea to open like a YouTube channel to put out like free transcription for like easy beginner piano. We just try it out like see if people are interested in that. It's just an idea, like I'm not sure about it yet, but if anyone is interested, yeah, then you can just go through the website that I'm providing and then you will have all the information in the future. Awesome.

Speaker 1:

That sounds good. Where can people follow you if they want to go on your journey with you, see where you end up going next, and also when they're interested either in your in your services or they know anyone else who's interested in your services? How can people follow and reach out to you?

Speaker 2:

Yes, you can just directly go to my website which is transcribeasongcom, and you can see in the link in the description.

Speaker 1:

Okay, Awesome, Perfect. We'll make sure to link those in the show notes so you can go there and you can check out Bailey's website and follow him on Instagram. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your story with us today. I think it's so interesting how creative you've been in finding a remote freelance career that works for you like being from an in-person magician to then just translating that into an online career. I think that's just awesome and I'm so glad we got to share that today. So thank you very much. Yes.

Speaker 2:

And also I would like to add one more thing that I want to share with everybody, which is some difficulty that I find to be as a digital nomad, because before I was thinking, oh, what a wonderful life people are like that, and then when I become one, you are in the reality.

Speaker 2:

And then, especially for me I'm not sure about other digital nomads I'm an introvert, like I can be sociable, but I'm actually like quite shy inside. I need some personal time when I find myself like working. I started to go around everywhere because I want to push myself out of my comfort zone. Because if I don't go out, if I just work from home in my own bubble, I will not have any friends. And then I have to make myself to go out and meet some people like my other people who are doing my work, who are doing like work same as mine, who understand my lifestyle, and then I always find difficulty in meeting people and making friends because, like I'm a shy person and then it's just not easy. That is one of the downsides, for you can meet many people from around the world, but it is tough to keep in touch and then meet really like my other people. Yeah, that's one of the difficulties that I face for being a digital nomad.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, true. What is your favorite way to meet people? Is there a certain way that always works well, like, do you go for specific events or I don't know? Do you stay in specific places to make that easier?

Speaker 2:

I try to go to some events that I can find on Facebook groups. There's a lot of groups or some telegram channel and I think, like now, facebook is quite one of the best place to for the digital nomad. They are grouping in each country and every city. They have like a group chat there and then that's one of the best place to like meet other people, to organize hangouts. Otherwise, you just it happens like naturally on the street or in like some cafes or some places you go, or in a bar, and then yeah whatever might happen, it happens like otherwise is just going on Facebook groups to find people.

Speaker 1:

Okay, yeah, I agree, I that's also my strategy to use Facebook groups for that. Yeah, it's especially when you're introverted you have to go a little bit out of your way to meet people, I think. But then, if you do, I also find that it's really nice to have people who live a similar lifestyle and often those friendships are really intense friendships, if that makes sense, like you can go from zero to best friends in like a week because you just have so much in common and you often spend a lot of time together. Also in my experience with it, but a little bit uncomfortable at first to meet people.

Speaker 2:

Yes, exactly Because you know that you have like a limited time together. Yeah, you just spend every day like together. It was fun, like it was a really wonderful journey, that every day is different, like when you're traveling.

Speaker 1:

Exactly, yeah, 100%, awesome. Well, thank you so much for adding that to the end of this episode, and I'm really excited to have this episode to publish out for our audience, and thank you again for coming on.

Speaker 2:

Well, thank you for having me here, awesome.

Speaker 1:

And thanks for listening. See you in the next episode, and that's it for today. Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate it very, very much. I would appreciate it even more if you could leave a review on Apple podcasts for me. That way, more people can find this podcast, more people can hear the inspiring stories that we're sharing, and the more people we can impact for the better. So, thank you so much If you are going to leave a review. I really appreciate you and I will see you in the next episode.

Music Transcriber and Arranger
Freelancer's Daily Schedule and Lifestyle
Digital Nomad Lifestyle and Travel