The Moneymaker: Award-winning local singer, Reuby

Spend money to save money, says homegrown singer Reuby. Nah, he’s not talking about investments — just video games

The Moneymaker:
Reuby, 19, the local singer who snagged Singapore’s first award at the Hongkong Asian-Pop Music Festival in March for his original composition, ‘Fifty’. The LaSalle music student, whose real name is Reuben Tan, released his eponymous debut album last September, and garnered attention for his folk-pop rendition of ‘My Sunshine’. Not too shabby for someone who was discovered purely by chance. He caught the attention of talent scouts after he helped a friend with an audition video by playing guitar and providing back-up vocals. Reuby will perform at the Sing50 concert, a gig featuring music made in Singapore, sung by the likes of Dick Lee, Jacintha, Shigga Shay and Sezairi Sezali.

HOME IS: A five-room executive flat in the West where he lives with his polytechnic lecturer dad, piano tutor mum and three sisters.

HIS RIDE IS: “Mostly MRT or bus, and taxis occasionally if I have work,” says Reuby.

WHAT’S IN HIS WALLET: A debit card, name cards and $20 to $50 cash. “I don’t have discount cards but I use my dad’s NTUC card when I buy groceries. I’ve had this Timberland wallet for five years. It was a Christmas gift from my grandma.”

8 DAYS: What was the first thing you spent money on today?
REUBY: I’ve spent $0 today. I haven’t even bought a drink. I woke up at 11am, had breakfast, went to [my management] office and here I am now. I’ll probably spend money on lunch later.

What did you do with your last paycheque?
I get my pay-out from gigs and royalties every six months. I haven’t received a pay-out yet since I debuted recently. Let’s just say it’s not a whole lot of money that I’ll get cos I’m still new.

You were busking on Orchard Road, outside Takashimaya and 313@Somerset, for two years before you were discovered. How lucrative was that?
I got a decent amount of money. On a good day, I could get up to $300 in three hours. On a bad day, it’s about $150, which is still not bad for a 16-year-old. That’s why I was willing to lug all my stuff down to town. I started busking ’cos no one my age had tried it before, so I thought, why not try it and get some exposure? I mean, people are forced to listen to you when you’re busking. (Laughs)

Any bizarre experiences while busking?
I had my fair share of encouragement and also people who were not so nice. Some of them asked why I was doing this, and if I’m a poor person. (Chuckles) I tell them I do it as a hobby.

Earlier this year, you were promoting your self-titled debut album in Korea. How much did you spend there?
I spent about $500 over the four days I had to explore and shop, but none of it was on make-up or skincare! I spent it mostly on food, and the shoes I’m wearing right now.

What’s the most expensive item in your wardrobe?
I’m pretty fortunate to have sponsorships so the clothes I get for free are probably more expensive than those that I buy for myself. Recently I received a Topman suit that I wore for the Hongkong performance, and that’s probably about $300.

And the cheapest?
Probably some pair of shorts I wear at home — the three for $10 kind. I haven’t grown a whole lot so I’ve been wearing them for four years. And they’re not worn out yet!

When was the last time you spent more than $500 on an item?
My DSLR camera some years ago, which was $700. I saved up for that, even though I’m usually bad at saving and finances. I don’t go on shopping sprees, but if I see a bag online that I like and it’s about $300, I’ll splurge on that and be broke for the rest of the month. I still get an allowance from my parents but it’s just enough to get by.

What’s the last thing you regretted buying?
Over the weekend, I bought a game on my Xbox for $30. After I bought it I realised there was a PC version and that I’d enjoy playing it on my PC much more, so I bought that too for $20. Then I realised I’d just wasted $30. I’m on my school break now so I have a lot of time and can spend eight hours on games. In a way, spending money on that game helps me save money ’cos I don’t go out.

Catch Reuby at the Sing50 concert on Aug 7, National Stadium, 7.30pm. For more info, go to

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