“There’s not a lot of places you can rehearse with 18 people”: how a musician lives on $21,000 a year

“There’s not a lot of places you can rehearse with 18 people”: how a musician lives on $21,000 a year

(Image: Kayla Rocca) (Image: Kayla Rocca)
 

Who: Chelsea McBride, 23

What she does: A musician who performs with several jazz and pop bands. She also teaches music and takes on other short-term jobs.

What she makes: Last year, her income was around $21,000, excluding scholarships and prize money.

Some of how she spends it: Her share of rent on a one-bedroom-plus-den apartment in Long Branch, split with her boyfriend: $488 monthly. (“It’s above a laundromat. It’s really good to have a place above a shop, because practicing is usually less of an issue.”) GO and TTC fare: $58 weekly. Cellphone service: $50 monthly. Digital distribution fee for her music: $44 yearly. (“I have three EPs out with two of my bands. I pay a distributor called Distrokid in order to get them on iTunes, Spotify and other online services.”) Automatic savings deposit: $100 biweekly. Debt payments: $0. (“I won the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Emerging Jazz Artist award. I used some of the $10,000 prize to pay off my student debt. Now I’m saving to make a big-band record next year, which is a huge financial undertaking.”)

What she bought in one week: Rehearsal space rental: $60. (“I lead a big band, and there’s not a lot of places you can rehearse with 18 people.”) Brunch at the Cat ‘N Fiddle: $19. Presto card reload: $100. Chicken McNugget meal at McDonalds: $8. (“Honestly, I have to be out of the house for long stretches of time. Eating out is going to be a part of my schedule. I just try to make it a very small part of what I’m doing.”) Washer and dryer usage at the laundromat downstairs: $3.50. (“We haven’t gotten any free laundry yet.”) Groceries: $46.