Illustration: Nelson Ponce
Illustration: Nelson Ponce

How to be a professional DJ in Cuba?

3 minutos / Darsi Fernández

13.07.2018 / Articles

In late 2017, a young Cuban DJ and producer (BeutNoise) wondered how it would be possible to be able to earn money with his work. His question arises in an institutional environment that has yet to completely understand that EDM and the other varieties of electronic music are THE music of many millennials. And because he was wondering, and because I’m the mother of one of his best friends, I decided to find out for him and for all the other young Cubans out there who, having studied music formally or not, prefer the solitude of their computer, samplers, and creative software for generating music and making it available — with the help of their console and “moon” (lights) — for the consideration of their peers.

So, how can DJ/producers be considered as music professionals in Cuba, and earn money with their live sessions?

After a lengthy lobbying process led by some of the national scene’s most veteran and best-known DJ/producers (D’Joy de Cuba, Wichy de Vedado, Kike Wolf, DJ Dark, Iván Lejardi, Diemen Duff, and others), and with the support of various cultural institutions, the Ministry of Labor recently included the titles of DJ/producers of Electronic Music and DJ of Electronic Music on its list of cultural workers, and established the bases for their remuneration.

The National Laboratory of Electroacoustic Music, LNME, which is subordinate to the National Center for Concert Music, CNMC, of the Cuban Music Institute, ICM, is the main port of entry to obtain a professional DJ “job.” With an impressive history — which we’ll discuss at some point in this magazine — the LNME is the institution charged with proposing to the ICM those electronica artists that its specialists believe should be categorized as professionals. To opt for that, you should present a project (with no fewer than 12 creations) under your name and stage name, plus a brief CV and two photos, at their offices on Calle I between 15 and 17 streets in Vedado (or send it in, if you are not from Havana). Along with your project, you can add any other element (recorded sessions, videos, whatever you have) to help provide them with a more complete idea of the quality of your work.

A commission headed by composer, radio program director and University of the Arts professor Juan Piñera is the first filter. Once the LNME commission approves your project, you go on to the recommendation of the ICM, which decides which enterprise in its structure will be your contracting intermediary.

It sounds complicated and it is, a little bit, but what we’ve learned is that by the end of 2018, there will be more than 40 professional DJs in Cuba. One of these is BeutNoise, whose “process” is well along. Cheer up! The dance floors await you!

Darsi Fernández

Darsi Fernández

A lawyer. Hyperlinker Teen violinist mother. Organizer cream. Bad memory only for what suits you. Dream of retiring to read.

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    Gloria Alicia León Martínez

    29.08.2018

    Very good, but they should be more widespread.


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