How to be a DJ in Doha

Pro tips to making it big in the city

How to be a DJ in Doha
How to be a DJ in Doha Image #2

The country’s after hours scene is changing with more of a focus on local talent and smaller boutique events. We speak to Doha nightlife veteran Jared McCulloch to find out how budding DJs can get involved.

From sitting on comfy couches on the Al Dana terrace as the sun goes down, to raving the evening away to big name acts at night spots like Club 7 or Crystal, Doha’s nightlife scene is undeniably getting more exciting. DJs are flooding into the market and more people are looking for an upbeat evening. Basically, it’s an interesting time to be on the decks in Doha.

Jared McCulloch, founder of Global DJs, has been on the scene since 2006 when he organised the company’s first gig on February 2 at the Diplomatic Club with a range of hit DJs on the beach. Before that, he’d been spinning at various bars himself. ‘I’ve seen a lot of people come and go,’ he tells us. ‘I’ve seen huge companies come into the market and fail…

‘It’s changed dramatically.’

Over the past few years we’ve seen an upsurge in professional events and now, where Jared used to be the only one, he counts tens of events companies also doing what he first set out to do, not to mention local DJs. While he believes that this clear passion for music and a progressing, lively nightlife scene are good things, he also admits that the market is getting too competitive as there aren’t enough party-goers to support it. ‘There are 35-plus event companies and outlets doing the same kind of thing and if you break down statistics there are maybe less than 10,000 people who are interested in this kind of nightlife scene.

‘If you’ve got 30 outlets and events running on a weekend there’s not going to be many winners but there’s going to be a lot of losers.’

This is a stark comparison to the nightlife in Dubai where thousands upon thousands of partygoers within the UAE and from further afield flock to events, he says.

But things will continue to get bigger in years to come and, for budding DJs at least, that is good news. But, says Jared, ‘More venues need to support the local scene rather than importing DJs, allowing it to grow. DJs are constantly coming in from Dubai but people here might wipe the floor with them. They might do a way better job, might be much better technically, might be better at selecting music and for sure they know the crowd better.’

So what’s his advice if you’re looking to break into the scene?

‘Firstly, get into it. Try and meet other DJs, go to other events and support them.’

He explains that to be a DJ isn’t just about the music but you also need to focus on production, marketing, promotions, social media and business all at the same time. ‘Oh, and you have to be good.

‘And you have to remember that it’s not always about yourself – it’s about the people that are in front of you when you’re DJing. Yes put your own touch on it, your own flavour but at the end of the day you’re there to please the people and not yourself.’

Lastly, says Jared, it’s about respect. ‘Respect other DJs and their music tastes. Music is a very passionate thing and every single person is different from the next. Music is one thing in the world that everyone has an opinion on.’

After years of putting on large gigs with big name DJs like Tiesto, David Guetta and Ferry Corsten – to name a few – Jared is now focusing on doing smaller but just as exciting boutique events, as well as DJing his own nights. ‘I’ve been focusing for seven years on Global DJs and Iconic Qatar, now it’s time to focus on Jared McCulloch the DJ because that’s my original passion.’

How to be a DJ in Doha

Bruno Rocharte, resident at W Doha
‘Keep your level of motivation always high and fill yourself with that good vibe that music brings to your mind and soul.

‘One of the best ways to make it in this job, not just in Doha but generally, is to respect the local DJ community and to appreciate one another’s performance.

‘Prepare yourself for any sort of occasional, extravagant event, and be versatile!

‘You can’t forget that the majority of clubs in Doha are located in five-star hotels, which means that you have to pay attention and care for your appearance and etiquette.

‘No matter what, you have to play mainly what you really like and what you consider as being more appropriate for the people who came to dance for the night. Try not to go for the mainstream, or else you might take the risk of becoming just a “jukebox” without any imprint.’

DJ Willy, resident at Pearl Lounge
‘Knowing what songs to play in the right place is very important. One wrong song at the wrong time can completely change the energy in the room.

‘Have confidence in your performance and play for the crowd, not for yourself. Yet, a good DJ can adjust to the crowd but still be able to do his own thing.

‘Interact with the crowd and love what you do.’

DJ Roger Choueiry, resident at Club 7
‘Be very humble and certainly very creative.

‘Be part of the crowd and listen to their demands.

‘DJs should play any type of music and shouldn’t fix on one style only.

‘I think it is okay to prepare some sets – even big names prepare their sets – but not while spinning live. Creativity is a necessity.’

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