Why Starting a Band in Winnipeg Is Not That Difficult

Why Starting a Band in Winnipeg Is Not That Difficult

Sa Pilipinas e napakahirap magtayo ng isang banda dahil ang mahal ng mga instrumento at ang hirap ding makahanap ng practice studios. Kung meron man e siguradong mahal din ang renta rito.

In Winnipeg, primarily because the value of money is high and musical instruments are relatively affordable and readily available—whether to buy or to rent—starting a band or setting up a simple show can be very easy. In the Philippines, common problems that bands experience include the difficulty in acquiring musical instruments and other equipment necessary in setting up a band or producing a show as well as the expensive cost of renting a practice studio if ever one can find a well-equipped one. Unless one belongs to a wealthy family or one of the band’s members is, starting a band there could be really a hassle, both discouraging and frustrating.

Practice studios are not common here in Winnipeg, but music rental stores are. One can practically rent on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, at a very affordable price, any basic instruments that one can imagine—guitars, bass, keyboards, banjo, mandolin, and even a full drum set (complete with cymbals) or single timpani or even a tuba! If one decides to just furnish his own little practice room in the comforts of his own home with the essential gears, then purchasing the instruments and other pieces of equipment one by one on an installment payment scheme is available at many music stores. For instance, a good Korg Kross 61-key keyboard/synthesizer workstation may be bought for $900 at Long & McQuade on a one-year or up to two-year monthly payment option, which means that the new owner of that portable keyboard may already bring that instrument home and will just have to pay about $38 every month for the next two years. For a budding guitar player, a good starter electric guitar such as an Epiphone ES-335 Semi-Hollow Body costs $550 and a Fender Mustang I guitar amplifier is priced at $150; so, to buy this guitar-amplifier package using the one-year installment payment plan will cost only 12 payments of about $60 per monthly visit at the store. If one needs a full drum kit just for a day for a gig, one can rent a Mapex Voyager 5-piece drum kit with cymbals, hardware, and throne for only $7; just sure to return everything the next day. If one fancies having the whole drum set at his home to practice on for several days, then one may rent it for a week for only $13 using the weekly payment option. So, if, say, a producer is planning to organize a small simple band-setup gig, then for a total amount of roughly $130 he can already rent the whole equipment package!

Here’s the likely breakdown:

1 complete drum set – $7
Traydon 200-watt all-tube bass head – $11
Traydon 600-watt bass cabinet – $8
2 Fender ’65 deluxe reverb amplifiers – $17 per amp
2 Yorkville YX series powered loudspeakers 170 watts – $7 per speaker
Micromix 1600-watt 10-channel powered mixer – $13
5 Shure unidirectional dynamic microphones – $4 per mic

Just add $7 for every monitor that will be necessary. And don’t worry about the cables; they come with the rental free of charge.

Some musicians, especially those who are in the Philippines, might start thinking that the costs are still expensive because the prices are in dollars. Well, don’t start converting the dollars into pesos; because here in Canada, those consumer prices should be valued in proportion to the economic value of what people earn from their jobs. Here in Winnipeg, the current minimum wage is $10.70 per hour. So, that’s $85.60 a day (for those who work eight hours a day), or $856 per payday (that’s 10 days of work in a two-week period), or $1712 as a month’s whole pay. Less all the taxes, a minimum-wage earner working fulltime might be taking home a net salary of about $1400 a month. If he spends $130 to produce a band gig, then this amount is only about 10% of his monthly salary. Of course, one has to think in percentage terms, to be able to calculate the actual economic value of what one is spending.

In the Philippines, the minimum wage of a fulltime employee working in the nonagricultural sector of National Capital Region is 466 pesos per day—that’s 4660 pesos per payday, or 9320 pesos monthly. Therefore, if one is to calculate in Philippine terms the total equipment rental of $130 that was cited as an example, it’s mathematically spending only the 10% of the monthly salary of a fulltime minimum-wage earner. Meaning, if the economic value of money in the Philippines is the same as that of money in Winnipeg (Canada), then to rent the same package there should amount to only 10% of 9320 pesos, which is only 932! Now, how affordable could that have been!

That’s why here in Winnipeg, even a student can afford to buy an electric guitar with an accompanying amplifier with savings from his school allowance. And even a group of young fledgling bands can set up a simple gig any good weekend. But the skills in playing an instrument and in songwriting and the opportunities to play as a band—well, that’s another story altogether. Although surely, a beginner’s having his own instrument to practice on and his own practice studio at home to practice in makes a big difference.