“An event without a DJ is like being without a soul”
Music is life and in every human occasion, music and sound play vital roles. To achieve this professionally, the disc jockey known as DJ, plays an important part. Our correspondent, Ere-Ebi Agedah-Imisi, spoke with the president, DJs Association of Nigeria, who noted that DJ-ing has come a long way and has become a very lucrative business. Excerpts:
Can we meet you?
My career started in May 1982 that was when I started to learn the business. My real name is Tade Adeyemi also known as DJ kool and I am the National President DJs Association of Nigeria, DJAN. While in Ogun State University in 1983 I operated fully as a campus DJ playing for my colleagues because I had passion for it.
In 1984, I represented my institution during the All Nigerian University DJ competition at the University of Ibadan where I gained more exposure. Upon graduation, I was posted to Abuja for my service year where I was the DJ in the camp at OBS after which I was posted to Government Secondary School Tudun Wada. One day I was invited to a small party in town where I met a foreigner who gave me his complementary card to pay him a visit at Nicon Hilton now Transcorp Hilton. Weeks later I was invited for an audition and that was how I started playing as a corps member at Transcorp Hilton, I played there for ten years and there after moved to other night clubs to perform which can be known as street DJ-ing
What inspired you to go into this career path?
It started with passion, I have always had a passion for music and for perfection in general so it was very easy for me to take up music because music is the soul of every event. The major challenge we face today with young people is that they jump into profession with the primary idea of making money, in this case passion becomes secondary. Money takes you there but passion will keep you there.
Most of the older generation got into the business because of the passion they had for it. We spent a lot of our money buying records to ensure that we dish out the best to our clients so we left a legacy behind and that was what led us into ensuring that we have an umbrella platform so that the younger ones can go after passion first before the financial aspect. We must not also forget the place of mentors. I had a good mentor who trained me to where I am today, suffice it to say that this generation lacks mentorship which is a very vital part of every carrier DJ-ing inclusive.
Tell us a little about DJAN
Presently, we have 33 member states in the six geopolitical regions fully registered with our association, regrettably every Tom Dick and Harry now jump into DJ-ing, making it easy to find DJs everywhere. However, few of them are professionals who can actually meet your needs at an occasion and our association is set up to ensure that quacks are sieved out of the business.
We are having our national convention this year, where our website is going to be launched. This website is going to be a one stop shop for every Nigerian artist where they can drop their songs and DJs can go there to download for their events. Once any artist uploads his music on our website, automatically every registered DJ with our association in Nigeria will have access to the music so as to make current and trending songs readily available to final consumers.
Can you let us in on some of your strategies that make you unique?
Disc Jockey is like any other business in Nigeria where you discover that some people are excelling better than others. One has to find out and emulate those excelling in the trade. This trade needs to be learnt and as I said earlier, one has to have a passion for it, one should put in enough time, effort and resources to attain a certain standard that makes one unique.
The first set of things every professional DJ must note are the location or the venue of the event, the kind of event and if possible prior meeting with the organizers of the event to ascertain the kind of music that would most likely be preferred. These set of questions should be asked before the event as a perfect event is not specific to just playing the music but playing the right music that suits the occasion as this would eventually earn you your next and subsequent events.
This is what inspired the creation of our association so that we can create a platform for exchange of ideas as no man is a custodian of all ideas. We decided to have a platform where younger generation can be guided.
How lucrative is the DJ-ing in Nigeria?
DJ-ing has come a long way and has become very lucrative. This is why regrettably, the business is gradually being over taken by quacks that are everywhere portraying themselves as professionals and spoiling the good names of people who actually invested ample time and resources into this course. Some of them dress shabbily, irresponsibly and look unkempt to occasions.
We have begun to nurture the younger generation with the message that one can earn an honest living from DJ-ing. These days most clients are not interested in where you are operating from. DJs just receive calls and this limits the quality of their assessment to just their performance alone, forgetting that appearance would further speak for them to a reasonable extent.
This is why we want to use this medium to appeal to clients, event managers to ensure that they inquire to see the ID card of their performing DJ before the job is awarded because our association DJAN is on a nationwide campaign to wipeout quacks. This means any Dj who is not registered would not be allowed to perform and could even be stopped during performance.
What are some of the challenges you face as a DJ?
Let me start with music, this generation lacks good music especially music with content and lyrics. Every DJ needs good music to work with and when you do not have it, an audience cannot get the best of you.
Also Nigerian DJs are underrated, not appreciated and underpaid. Permit me at this point to call out event managers as they are the brains behind the events. They determine who gets what and at the same time most of them forget that the DJ is the life-wire of every event. He or she is the first to get to the venue and last to leave, and in a bid to maximize profit, the DJ is paid very cheaply and in turn may decide to put up a cheap performance thereby jeopardizing the event and the business in general.
I would like to use this medium to appeal to event planners and organizers to ensure that DJs are paid accurately as good financial input equates great performance.