Taking the reality talent show competition route is now a tried-and-tested way for a new singer to break into the scene. But it is not suitable for everyone, as Singapore's Ruth Kueo found out.
The 22-year-old took a stab at shows in Taiwan such as Chinese Million Star, where she reached the top 100, and Super Idol, as a challenger contestant, and ultimately learnt something about herself.
"I met a lot of really talented people from various countries, but I was not as ambitious and I tended to pick safer songs that I felt I could do well with," she says. "Competitions tend to favour songs which go big on emotions and shoot for the high notes."
There was also the danger of losing sight of her own personality.
She took on Taiwanese diva A-mei's Don't Rub Salt In The Wound for Chinese Million Star last May and it did not go down well with judge Yuan Wei-jen, a veteran songwriter-producer.
He felt that she was imitating A-mei and added: "You need to find your own style."
Those were words that she took to heart. She now believes "the best way of displaying your own sense of style is through your own compositions".
Her debut recording of original material she wrote and composed - the four-track Mandarin and English EP, Conversations With - has just been launched and is available from CD Rama and iTunes.
She paid S$30,000 from her own pocket to produce and market it.
She says: "This is not for profit but it's a dream I want to accomplish while I'm still young."
However, she is not just some dreamy idealist with no head for the hard realities of making music for a living.