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A license to spin

Brazil considers requiring DJs to receive formal training and government recognition.

British DJ Fatboy Slim plays at Carnival in Salvador in the Brazilian coastal state of Bahia, Feb. 20, 2007. A law under consideration would require any event involving foreign DJs to include 70 percent Brazilian DJs. (Paulo Whitaker/Reuters)

 SAO PAULO — Outsiders might associate this nation with samba, but Brazil likes its trance, electro-house and techno too.

Huge crowds turn out when big name disc jockeys come from abroad; in return, Brazil dispatches its home-grown DJs to the world.

Last year’s DJ Awards in Ibiza featured a category specifically for Brazilians, the only nation so honored; DJ Marky, a Sao Paulo legend who tours internationally every year, won out over seven compatriots.

Unlike the other DJs that won in Ibiza, however, DJ Marky may soon need a license to perform in Brazil.

Proposed legislation by Senator Romeu Tuma would regulate club and event disk jockeys in much the same way the law already protects— or hinders, depending on whom you ask — musicians, radio announcers and print journalists. This move in the Brazilian legislature has generated considerable buzz in DJ and nightlife circles recently; MTV Brazil even hosted a debate on the topic last Tuesday.

The bill — which is before the Senate’s education committee — would forbid nightclubs and event planners from hiring anyone without credentials. The law also spells out protection from unscrupulous employers, and would limit foreign DJs — who are exempted from the certification requirement — to 30 percent of the gigs at any event.

“It’s nonsense,” said Facundo Guerra, owner of Vegas, a Sao Paulo nightclub famed for its after hours party. “It would be like if a visual artist needed a license to make a painting. We have politicians who are removed from reality.”

Many agree, but the legislation was actually the result of lobbying by SINDECS, a DJ organization in Sao Paulo. Antonio Carlos dos Santos, the organization’s president of the union and a DJ for three decades, said that among the intentions of the law is to protect professionals from hacks who download music from the Internet, and to give DJs access to government retirement and health benefits.

“Clubs hire good DJs to attract a following,” dos Santos said. “Then, some friend of the owner or promoter appears, and takes the job away from the professional, working for 50 reais ($21) a night, or even in exchange for whiskey.”