In this chat, Emmanuel Atim a.k.a DJ Emmy, the Vice Chairman, DJ Association of Nigeria (DJAN) Benue State Chapter, who is also a sound engineer, sound provider, sound consultant and event light expert opened up to The Voice Entertainment’s DAMIAN DAGA on the viability of disc jockeying profession and sundry issues. Excerpts.
As a DJ, what is the work all about?
If you ask me, I would say it is a profession. Although, some people just do it for fun.
However, for me; it has been both a hobby and a profession. I have been in this business since 2008 and I must confess, it is very lucrative if you pay attention to it.
What gave you the inspiration to embrace disc jockeying as a profession?
Back in the days when I was in secondary school, I was a music lover, first and when I left school, I had some persons who were in the business. I got close to them I discovered they just loved music and were doing it for fun. Later I discovered it is a big pool for business.
Talking about the business aspect of the job, a lot of people do the job but do not pay attention to the business aspect of it but I do. I do because before going into it, I had the opportunity of being mentored by a people who made me think more about the business aspect of it than the fun part of it.
I had to learn how to play initially at a time we did not have digital music playing equipment like we have now. Currently, many DJs use the virtual player without having to learn how to manually pair music, count beats, know bpm levels etc.
Apart from learning disc jockeying, I had to save money and gradually acquire state of the arts equipment for the business. I must say that, if you want to be serious with the business, you have to own at least a player.
Gradually, I started to get patronage and I built my DJ business further.
What is your educational status?
I am an Economist having studied Economics at the Benue State University, Makurdi.
Why embrace DJ work instead of picking up a public or private sector job?
Everything you do in life should be a thing of choice. As for myself, I chose to be my own master, an entrepreneur and employer of labour instead of working for salary.
Due to the kind of environment I find myself, knowing that the economy of Nigeria is not stable, hence, for one to survive, he or she needs to be calculative and aim high. I believe that is what I am doing and it is paying me well.
I took out my time to study Economics basically because I wanted to read a professional course. It is worthy of note that after I was denied admission into BSU to study Accountancy for seven straight years, someone advised me to apply for Economics as they align somehow. I did and got admitted.
Even in my undergraduate days, disc jockeying business paid my tuition. In the first show I paid to gain entrance, I was not satisfied with the output of the DJ. Thereby, I approached the organiser telling him that I am a DJ and could do better with what he paid the DJ. He mentioned me to his team and they hired me for their next event and I killed it. The rest is history as I got almost all gigs across the campus thereon, through to my final year. This happened not because I was too exceptional, I was consistent.
Basically, disc jockeying paid my way through the University that is why I never bothered seeking for employment anywhere on graduation and rather kept to it. Disc jockeying is big business. At the end of the day, it is what brings food to the table that matters. I am not saying I cannot be a public servant or work with a private company but I am just saying I like being my own boss.
Through your career as a DJ, what have been the basic challenges?
The basic challenges of being a DJ for me have been the negligence of the public to the importance of the profession. Over the years, some people never looked at DJing as a profession and viable venture. Some considered DJs to be drop-outs or people without prospects. That is the same that applied to musicians hitherto.
Luckily, in recent times, people started appreciating the profession and people sponsor people to go to music schools or go for DJ training. As I speak to you, I have trained over five DJs and I have almost over 10 trainee DJs of which some were brought to me by their parents who paid for their tutelage.
Also, the aspect of pricing is another challenge. A lot of DJs on the streets are not paid what they should be paid. At times, it is the fault of the DJ and at other times, that of the people who under appreciate DJs and take advantage of them. When one pays so much for an event venue, decorators and caterers and pay peanuts to DJs who are yet to build their brand, they get commiserate service which is poor.
I want to lend a voice on behalf of DJs for people to appreciate the profession and pay a DJ for the value of the service you want him to offer you. It is better to pay well and get a good result commiserate with the type of event you are holding rather than pay peanuts and expect more which cannot be guaranteed.
Do you have any advice to upcoming Djs?
In the profession, it is very difficult to grow, except you pay attention to the business. There are a lot of DJs now because everything has been digitalised, hence, instead of learning the core rudiments of the profession they embrace the digital option, go to events and play rubbish which makes some people look down on DJs.
I want to advice that anyone who love disc jockeying should make out time and learn the rudiments of the profession from someone who is already rooted in the business. No matter how well you play, if you do not know the business part of it, you will not know that when you are paid money for an event, you use the money to hire good equipment to use. Also, you are supposed to charge an event per value of event.