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Articles May-June 2021

Pursuing the Pro Audio Trail

In conversation with Caroline Moss and Sue Gould

PT got in touch with the Pro AVL Asia magazine core team of Editor - Caroline Moss and Sales Director - Sue Gould, who between them boast of over three decades of experience in the pro audio industry..... read more

NJSM Marks a Milestone in the Business of Sound

From Rental Company to manufacturer and innovator, Nixon Johnny has guided and grown NJSM from a two-person company to a fifty-person company, continuing to expand into virtual events with NJSM Virtual Studio..... read more

Tech Savvy Environment for T-Systems

Eyte Technologies installs high-tech AV Solution at T-System’s Experience Center facilitating brand value and delivering superior customer experience..... read more

Conversations with SudeepAudio

Sudeep Audio, one of India’s first pro audio web store selling studio software and equipment online commenced its YouTube Channel, ConverSAtions, in 2011 to share the journey of Indian Sound Engineers..... read more

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Hang the DJ by Reji Ravindran

“Fire & Safety at venues - Where do we stand?”

Hello & welcome to my brand new column - in your favourite industry magazine. In each edition, I’ll be presenting to you news, perspectives & ideas related to the Indian DJing industry and its various off-shoots. This column aims to inform & empower its readers with holistic contemporary insights, which would hopefully propagate healthy discussions, standards & best practices within the industry - leading to a healthy, progressive & thriving market for the Indian DJ of any stature.

The Aftermath

I reside in Mumbai, and as I’m writing my first column, I would like to report to you that recent times have been pretty bleak for the nightlife & entertainment industry in my city. A major fire accident broke out in two adjacent venues in the heart of the city, leading to the unfortunate demise of 14 people and left 16 seriously injured. This catastrophe (which occurred just a few days before New Year’s eve) created a huge furore on national prime time news, pressurizing the local municipal corporation to crack their whip on eateries/venues flaunting all sorts of fire & safety norms. This crusade has so far resulted into the inspection of 795 Mumbai eateries - out of which they found 438 outlets with violations, demolished 138 for illegal extensions & have sealed off 12 for serious negligence.

Due to its symbiotic nature to the hotel industry, this unfortunate incident has majorly affected the current DJ market. A big chunk of resident DJs in the city are sitting at home unemployed, waiting for their respective workplaces to open up again. Promoters have been hit big time as it has thrown their weekly/monthly programmings for their regular venues, into a pool of uncertainty. While we are still smack in the middle of the great Indian party season, a lot of international bookings have also gone awry. As this timing also coincides with India’s ever-increasing rise in music festivals, organizers have been scampering for alternative venues for their pre-parties & their premeditated promotions. All in all, this aftermath has resulted in mighty financial losses for various professionals in their respective markets.

However, none of these losses can be compared to loss of life. Its really unfortunate how fundamental negligence (still) could turn safe havens of fun into potential death traps for customers and employees. And the worst part is that such catastrophes has happened too many times before and yet the industry has not learnt much from its past. In this moment of inactivity for us professionals, we have another brief window of time to once again meditate and start healthy discussions on the prevention of such incidents and/or work on protocols to adhere with - in case another incident like this rears its ugly head again.

Prevention better than cure

This proverb is the general theme in the aftermath of such accidents. And if you really need to see real change, you wouldn’t find any other fundamental as honest and practical as this one. Regular fire & safety drills are a great place to begin with. Sadly, a major number of venues still don’t prioritize such activities for their employees due to their ‘this-would-never-happen-to-us’ attitudes. In the wake of catastrophes of such stature, there is always a flurry of news, pictures & videos of municipal corporations and fire departments razing down venues with their bulldozers, for their respective violations. You really couldn’t generalize these as each venue is different. After the authorities send their notices to venues, and after venue owners mend their ways to adhere with the required changes, the authority officials should ideally also work with each venue in designing customized fire & safety drills - pertaining to each specific venue. Likewise, conducting these drills periodically & checking on past (and avoidable future) violations with each venue should be mandatory responsibilities of government authorities and venues. Complacency shown in these matters by either parties would be the recipe for another disaster in the making.

The DJ Perspective

As I’ve been a professional DJ for 20 years now, there are a lot of points that I could bring forth on this matter - primarily from a resident DJs perspective. A majority of venue managements don’t consider the disc jockey as a part of their ‘team’. They have always perceived him/her more like an nonsalaried skilled professional/consultant, on a contractual basis. Only a handful few resident DJs have gained these contracts on their own as the placement of the rest for venues are made by well established old time DJs - who also moonlight as music consultants for these outlets. As these consultancies have a big number of employed DJs on their rosters (& due to constant attrition), a majority of these venues have never had a constant resident DJ. These are some of the factors why venue managements have the general notion of the resident DJ as an ‘outsider’ and never a part of their team - resulting in various ‘us vs. them’ scenarios & altercations. In the case of disasters though, every trained and alert employee counts in ensuring the safety their patrons, co-workers & themselves. Hence, along with the rest of the staff, fire & safety drills must be made mandatory for resident DJs as well. Besides giving newly recruited residents a primer on what kind of music works for the venue, daily F&B allowances, work guidelines etc. they should also be immediately familiarized with the main power supply/circuit breaker boards, all the exits and the closest fire extinguishers. I personally know of a lot of senior resident DJs (having multiple renewals to their contract with their respective venues) who are still oblivious to the safety characteristics pertaining to their individual workplaces. If you are a resident DJ, then there is still time. Get in touch with the venue’s senior management and insist on being included in the next fire & safety training session. Learn to be helpful instead of being helpless. Be pro-active in taking steps for safety of other’s lives & primarily yourself. And finally, in case any unforeseen calamity, DJs should be well aware of the huge influence they have over patrons and use it with great effect through public service announcements.

Further extending their level of service, promoters and event organizers should also be a part of fire & safety drills. This works best in case of venues with whom they work with regularly. Their teams are present at the venue during major event nights and they could share the responsibility with venue’s in-house team in ensuring the safety of the followers of their curation/sound. Most of what I have mentioned above is applicable for freelancing/touring DJs as well. They could demand a safety & precaution primer from their clients as a part of their technical rider. Likewise, its also good for clients to have these primers ready for individuals with whom they don’t work with regularly. Finally, it really doesn’t take much to print out the venue’s layout, nearby exits, locations of fire extinguishers, safe assembly points & emergency/helpline numbers - as all these would fit into a single sheet of paper & could be circulated amongst every individual working on the day of each event. That’s how simple & effective this primer could be and I don’t see any reason why this couldn’t be a common practice amongst all men & women working behind the scenes - for local DIY parties to major music festivals across India.

Remember that safety is not a matter of industry. It is a matter of humanity. We could reap the rewards of tomorrow only if we learn from the accidents of the past and work safely in the present.