The Philippine Star
G. A. Yupangco & Co., Inc.: A 50-year testament to the Philippine music industry
It is no secret that Filipinos have always had a natural a nity towards music. Whether it’s belting out karaoke by the roadside over a few drinks or a fiesta celebration with singing and dancing, music plays an integral part in every Filipino’s daily life
As early as the 1950s, businessman and founder Gary A. Yupangco had observed how his countrymen naturally gravitated towards music and artistry. While he had already built various successful enterprises in the fields of textile manufacturing, logging and real estate at the time, Gary was also an accomplished musician and thus, he yearned to find a way to nurture his fellow Filipinos’ penchant for music.
A common desire to perform, sing or create is deeply imbued in Philippine culture, and Gary realized that the process simply had to begin with providing Filipinos the best music education possible and the finest musical instruments available.
As a gifted musician, he would often find himself sneaking away from the din of corporate life, to instead, playing music on his treasured Yamaha Grand Piano and Electronic Organ, which he accrued after he personally wrote a letter to Yamaha about their musical instruments.
Together with his wife Nita, herself a talented concert pianist, Gary would host parties where they could showcase the Yamaha piano during a night of music and merriment. At the end of the day, there was always a guest who would purchase the piano, which led to Gary writing to Yamaha once again to request for more.
Having formed this peculiar partnership, Gary later went on to formally establish the Yupangco Yamaha Music Corporation, the first Filipino-Japanese joint venture company after the Second World War, and later on, then G. A. Yupangco & Co., Inc. in 1967 to engage in the popularization and development of the music business.
Fifty years later, G. A. Yupangco & Co., Inc. is now recognized as the foundation of the Philippines’ booming music landscape, fulfilling the musical desires of millions of Filipinos all over the country. Gary’s dream of providing state-of-the-art musical instruments and education has enabled countless Filipinos to unleash their talents that allowed them to join the ranks of prominent European, American and other Asian musicians in celebrated concert halls worldwide. AN ENDURING MUSICAL LEGACY
Now with 15 flagship stores and music school centers, and a network of about 50 select dealers scattered across the country, G. A. Yupangco & Co., Inc. has come to be known as the premiere and largest music company of the Philippines.
Philip L. Yupangco, President said that they hold roughly 70 percent of the overall market share.
“The music industry is divided into instruments and sound production and we have a good hold over both areas. It really helps that we also represent three of the largest music companies in the world: Yamaha, Roland and Fender, and all their products are only of the finest quality. We also carry Godin & Seagull, Washburn, Sabian, Zemaitis, Markbass, Gator and Line 6.”
As the official distributor of the best equipment in the market, it is only natural that local and international acts would go to G. A. Yupangco & Co., Inc. for their musical instruments and audio equipment.
“Most international concert organizations prefer to use our equipment here rather than bring their own because they know the quality of our instruments is top-notch. Artists who came to Manila for their concerts such as Josh Groban, Phil Collins, Jim Brickman, Kenny G., David Foster and Andrea Boccelli among others, used our equipment. Musicians such as Josh George Benson, Stevie Wonder, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton all trust our brands. Even local performers such as Gary Valenciano, Ogie Alcasid, Sarah Geronimo and musical directors and arrangers like Homer Flores, Marvin Querido, sound engineer Dar Quintos, and TV stations like ABS-CBN and GMA prioritize our products,” said Philip.
Several of Metro Manila’s top hotels like The Manila Hotel, Sofitel, ShangriLa, and The Manila Peninsula as well as the former The Mandarin Hotel and Intercontinental Hotel also utilize Yupangco’s products such as audio equipment, grand pianos and other musical instruments.
Meanwhile, G. A. Yupangco & Co., Inc. has also always been silent partners in the music education of hundreds of Filipinos over the years, even producing a substantial number of people who have made it big in the music industry, such as Ryan Cayabyab, Louie Ocampo, Marvin Querido and Jaymie Rivera, among others.
“The music business is a happy business and while it may not be the largest and most profitable company for the Yupangco group, we still cherish that it is the pioneer music business in the Philippines,” Philip said. “There will always be rising stars, singers and actors and them having access to quality musical equipment will definitely make everyone happy.”
ADAPTING TO THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION
As early as 1967, Yupangco, along with Yamaha, introduced the Yamaha Electronic Organ to the Philippines, the first of its kind in the country. The electone organ quickly gained traction and became a staple in the houses of music-loving middle-class homes.
As the demand for electronic music started to grow, Yamaha’s stint with electone organs eventually led to the development and evolution of more advanced and digital models.
Among the various brands Yupangco was distributing at the time, Yamaha’s DX-7 and DX-50 synthesizers helped cement Yupangco as the leading source of relevant brands and instruments during the digital revolution in music in the 1980s.
To better cater to professional musicians and enthusiasts in the 1990s, Yupangco established the Perfect Pitch, a “one-stop shop” multi-brand concept store which was missing from the booming music industry at the time. The specialty store focused on providing the niche music market with the best of world-renowned brands, particularly high-end digital equipment that could not be found anywhere else in the country.
Despite the big technological shift in the music industry, it seems the number of aspiring musicians has only grown in recent years, with a healthy divide between consumers who prefer digital and analog instruments.
“It’s really all according to preference and we offer the best digital and analog variants of any instrument,” said Robert L. Yupangco, senior director adding that modern customers often already come prepared before they buy an instrument as they have previously researched its specifications on the internet before deciding to finally purchase.
“Everything is available on the internet today and musicians sometimes know more than the seller, the distributors and the dealers,” he joked. “But, we are particularly proud of our sales and marketing team as they have superb relationship building skills that customers especially love, which in turn keep them coming back for more.”
Philip even recalled a few decades ago when he sold his very own keyboard when he was a salesman himself. “Until today, that same customer is still dedicated and has continued to call me for new releases even though I’m not a salesman anymore! We always believe that taking care of our customers is one of the reasons why we’ve stayed in the business for 50 years.”
When asked about the future of G. A. Yupangco & Co., Inc., Philip and its management team said they simply want to continue to provide excellent music products and services to Filipinos for the next 50 years. He added, “we’re here to continuously fuel the passion of interested musicians and guide people in unlocking their innate musical talent. I feel that it is essential for a human being to learn how to play at least one musical instrument and we’ll always be here to service you, teach you and provide you with the very best musical instruments and education in the world.”