I’ve worked as a DJ in Miami Clubs and Radio for over 40 years. The struggle of the ” local artist” is not unique to South Florida.Local Radio especially here in Miami, with a diverse Hispanic population refrains from programming ” local” and depends on ” National” charts . Their Top 10 charts usually reflects the music the Record labels want you to hear and not necessarily what the actual people are listening to at the clubs or at home. I’ve always thought it was the Dj’s job at ground level to introduce new music, to believe in a song and beat people over the head with it until either they love it or throw ripe tomatoes at you. It was like this here in the 70s and 80s each DJ had a signature sound ,priding themselves on playing tracks no one else was . Today there is a ” Cookie Cutter ” mentality that has taken over the DJ community. ” Follow the Leader” seems to be the norm Crate Diggers are rare and introducing new music at your events is unheard of.
Today some local artists tend to gravitate to those ” commercial” styles which they perceive have a better chance of succeeding other than the sticking to the styles they excel at, often times “forcing” contemporary” arrangements and sounds over their music resulting in a laughable productions. Not everything can or should be turned into Dance Music.
As DJs in Miami, programming to a diverse cultural audience we a have a large palette of musical colors to use in our sets. For Latin artists the local scene has recently been invigorated by the appearance of several new venues that exclusively support local talent . Ball and Chain, Cuba Ocho , Club Havana on Miami’s famed Calle Ocho in Little Havana are enjoying popularity as these venues begin offering the true flavors of our musical community. Casino Miami ( Formerly Miami Jai Alai) is probably the biggest supporter of the local scene. On any given Saturday Night the venue hosts top acts such as Carlos Oliva y los Sobrinos del Juez, Roberto Torres, Timbalive , Palo, Tres de La Habana ,Charanga Casino , Amaury Gutierrez, Hansel Y Raul and others. Musician and Percussionist to such artists as Julio Iglesias,Jon Secada and David Lee Roth , Tony Gundin describes the Casino’s continued support of local talent ” It is the only venue that provides a healthy rotation of local talent . The bands represent a variety of genres from Latin to Funk to Rock and Roll. “The entertainment is provided free of charge to customers of the Casino who show support week after week with standing room only crowds” states Gundin a veteran of the local scene
Nelson Correa founded the group ” Mantrap” in the mid 70s , after 45 plus years and 6 full length albums the band continues to perform Correa who’s band enjoys a large and faithful following describes the support he receives locally ” The response from our fans has been overwhelming both in attendance and physical CD sales. A few local DJs play our tracks regularly at their events. We have even seen some airplay in France and New York, but locally the stations stick mainly to National acts and without their help it is difficult to reach a larger audience”
In my opinion the “duty” of promoting local artists falls upon the local DJ who week after week can expose the music to a varied audience and by creating a demand for these artists ( by playing their music) the DJ in turn is helping himself. Most live music venues incorporate a DJ as part of the entertainment since most bands perform only one or two sets during the course of the night. In turn radio may have no choice but to include in their programming a local track which is making “noise” in clubs or at events. This was the case for me with the track ” Ya Boy” by the African salsa Group Africando released in 1994. I was doing ” Live Broadcasts” with a local station strictly adhering to their playlists but during the commercial breaks I would play tracks that while very popular at the particular club, where not part of the station’s regular programming. The Program Director which was also an on air talent picked up on the crowd’s reaction to the track ,placed it on rotation on the station and it became a huge hit. I want believe that DJs still have this influence.
DJ Alex Gutierrez
Below is a sampling of South Florida’s finest talent. Carlos Oliva , Rey Ruiz, Marlon Mendioroz, Lucy Grau, Palo,Mantrap, Spam All Stars, Miami’s Band , Conjunto Impacto , Tony Succar Support Your Local Artists !!