How to make it in Dubai's music scene

We asked a well known DJ, promoter and guitarist how they got their big break

Break DJ Lobito
Lobito has been in the alternative hip-hop and B-boy scene for more than a decade. A representative of Afrika Bambaataa’s Universal Zulu Nation and also part of the Deep Crates Cartel, who hosts regular nights here, the DJ has taken an active role in promoting music and art in Dubai. He initially found Dubai quite hostile to his efforts, with promoters failing to respond to his mixes. He encountered people who were ignorant of break-dancing culture to the extent that they didn’t know who B-boys were and he can be frustrated by people’s inability to associate with the culture of poverty and creativity at the heart of hip-hop. Yet he also finds Arab culture fascinating and sees the city as a work in progress. Lobito believes that Dubai has lots more possibilities for promoting music than older cities, where most genres are over saturated. An advocate of the street art scene, Lobito’s goal is to build an independent music infrastructure and ‘let international artists see Dubai as culturally relevant musically’.

Greg Dufton, Managing Partner, Think… events, marketing and PR
The main struggle which the 36-year-old British entrepreneur encountered was the conflicting opinions he faced on the subject of nightlife in Dubai when he first moved here. He recalls: ‘It takes a long time, and some notable success, to prove to people that you are in fact an expert in your field.’ A resident for nine years, he’s seen the city become a completely different place from what it was when he first arrived – but to him ‘that’s what makes it exciting’. He believes networking is key to success. His biggest project, Sandance, is something he’s committed to improving and building and with alternative nights such as Younique at the Media One Hotel in Media City, which with its urban edge, he finds ‘very refreshing and fun’.

Gary Tierney, vocalist and guitarist with The Boxtones
Lack of places for emerging bands to perform is the main issue Gary faces when he tries to build his rock band’s reputation. Having grown up in the Middle East however, Gary’s a big fan of the wealth of opportunities available in the city and compared to his native Scotland, Dubai ‘beats the Scottish weather any day’. He thinks the best opportunity for musicians here is supporting A-list rock bands at large concerts, claiming that ‘if you’re good enough, you can share the stage with some greats’. Currently working on the band’s debut album, the optimistic performer believes that ‘the future is bright’ for The Boxtones.

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