Following an outcry over DJs not playing much local music in nightclubs, opting to play music from South Africa, Nigeria and America, some music promoters and entertainment managers have come out to support the DJs.
The outcry was prompted by a plea from DJs calling on people to support them financially and spiritually during this trying time as they have lost business due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Some people refused to support them outright saying they do not deserve it as they do not play local music.
An entertainment manager from a prominent upmarket nightclub in Bulawayo who preferred anonymity said club DJs were basically not responsible for the playlists as it is the club’s patrons who determine them.
“It’s very crucial to play what the crowd wants. One wrong song and the dance floor goes empty and they (patrons) move to another club especially when they’re drunk.
“It’s as simple as that so DJs always have to make sure that patrons are captivated (by playing relevant music) the whole night,” said the manager.
As such, the manager said DJs at their club mainly play house, Amapiano, Naija and music from America which is what their patrons enjoy.
She further explained that this does not mean their DJs do not play local music. She said they do, but only hits.
“For a song to be a club favourite, it must be played on radio. Then if it’s a hit and people already love it; it can easily be played in the club. Long and short, there’re no experiments on the dance floor so DJs can’t afford to sample new music in the club.”
A club DJ who also refused to be named concurred with the club manager saying they play songs which are big on radio. However, the DJ hinted that poor relations between local musicians and club DJs may have had a huge role to play.
“I remember back in the day, the relationship between club DJs and artistes was really good and we used to push their music big time in the clubs. Now, the artistes run straight to radio without involving club DJs so we sit back and wait to hear if the song blows up on radio before we play it,” said the DJ.
Also, the DJ said some of the music was of poor quality hence they cannot play it.
“There’s the issue of quality with most of these new artistes. Unfortunately, a lot of their music seems rushed as the production is sub-standard. So personally, I won’t play what doesn’t catch my ear. We don’t just play music because it’s local, it has to be good for it to make it onto my set.”
DJ Tawaz who used to play at Private Lounge, Club 263 and the now non-operational Club Connect said the problem was also with club owners, most who prefer international content.
“I remember at one time when I was still working with Devine Assignments (owners of Club Connect, Private Lounge and Club 263), they would say don’t play too much local music, mix it up with international.
“I couldn’t play international because most DJs were doing so and I wanted to be unique. Thereafter, most club owners couldn’t employ me because I stuck to playing local music so I decided to back off and focusing on my music career,” said DJ Tawaz.
DJ Liz who popularised deep house music from South Africa at Hartsfield Tshisanyama said local artistes need to work hard on their music as they cannot do so on behalf of the artistes.
“I’ve nothing against local artists but I think as much as they complain (that their music isn’t being played), they need to work as hard as international artists to push their music.
“Truth is we don’t have much control on their music not being that big and we don’t run clubs and big events. Promoters do. If I’m hired and I start trying to push songs that people have never heard before, trust me, any promoter would come and get me off stage and put someone else,” said DJ Liz.
A DJ from Skyz Metro FM who preferred anonymity concurred with DJ Liz saying most local musicians are not doing enough to market their music and build their own audiences.
“Personally, I don’t think I’d know any of the artists if I didn’t work at Skyz Metro FM. The reason why people like Clement Magwaza are well known is because most of them put in the work in their original communities.
“They play day and night in growth points until their music is even taken by Omalayitsha to Zimbabweans in SA. It is also generally hard to find music from artistes in Bulawayo which makes it challenging to play it.”