COVID, Explosions and Blackouts: Surviving as a DJ in Beruit today
Saiid Zeidan, who was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, is an international DJ, producer and artist. He began his DJ career at age 16, built a solid local fan base, than got a degree in music production in 2018. He started to make and produce his own music, and by the age of 28, he’d already started his own record label: EDM REKORDS (http://edmrekords.com/). Saiid leads the New Artist Spotlight promotional team and is a curator for several of our genre playlists. Here’s his story: My family and my girlfriend supported me so much when I first started out as a DJ, but no one else believed in me. Usually, you need to be a lawyer or a doctor to be considered something here.
Since the start of the pandemic, life has gotten much harder here. I lost my 9-to-5 job as a media specialist at a huge group of companies. I lost all of my clients who used to buy hosting and marketing services. I lost my DJ residency due to political protests, an economic crisis and currency inflation.
In the meantime, I have done more than 20 records in one year, all self-produced and mastered. My first big room song, La Loufa Project, was mixed and mastered on M Audio BX8 monitors. I wanted to go small, but going small would reduce the audio quality, so I decided to use my savings and get professional studio monitors (Focal Shape Twin and Babyface Pro) to go with a massive-built PC. Even with the quality of my home studio, I have to face major difficulties that most other producers around the world would never dream of. For example, we have a very slow DSL connection using copper wires. (No, we don’t have fiber yet!). We also have city-wide blackouts where the power will be cut for up to 20 hours EVERY DAY.
And I haven’t even mentioned the huge explosion in August that devastated my city. My family and I were so lucky to survive it. But after that, no financial transactions were able to take place here. You are no longer able to open bank accounts and buy things. Fortunately, I was able to ask my good friend Ahmad Hijjawi, who recently moved to Sydney, Australia, to pay my annual subscriptions. My first collaboration was the Impact album with Dark Note Band. The hardest part was promoting it. My former partner and I raised 6,000 dollars for a promotional campaign through a Starlight PR agency. They pitched us to many local radio stations and magazines, but it wasn't effective at all. That caused many issues, including the end of our partnership.
I was back at square one and had to start over from scratch. As searched for free ways to promote my music due to my financial situation, I submitted my music to more than 20,000 different Spotify curators and blogs. It was then I confirmed something very important in this business: NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU UNTIL YOU ARE SOMETHING.
No one likes helping for free. At least that was until I met Ed Eagle, an honest and selfless artist, when he was just starting up NAS. I was so excited and believed in his ideas. I knew from the first moment that it would be a great opportunity. My streaming numbers have doubled, if not tripled. I have met many unique multi-tasking, selfless artists who run projects and have helped us get bigger and reach the spot we are now!
I advise every emerging artist to create their own unique style and build an organic fan base. DO NOT pay for fake streams or fake followers! The real numbers are the ones that matter. If you have 1,000 loyal fans, those are the only ones who will buy your merchandise or listen to your music and support you.
I see no future for me in my country, unfortunately, but I will never lose hope to get my chance to be a well-known artist or DJ. The only limitation for your creativity is you. Take a risk, because you only live once!