Mass Ramli and the Business of Music
Award-winning poet and Tempo contributor, Dorian “Paul D” Rogers sat down with Mass Ramli, entrepreneur, former DJ, and current owner of Ego Urban Lounge, to share coffee and good conversation.
Paul D: Congratulations on your recent 14th anniversary of doing business in the UAE. You started out as a DJ with a name and reputation built in Sri Lanka. How hard was it to break into this market when you arrived here in 2001?
Mass: It was quite hard since the DJ industry was dominated by Western nationals back then. DJ agencies and entertainment companies based in Dubai were recruiting non-Asian DJs to gig in reputable clubs; it was next to impossible for an Asian DJ.
Paul D: Some of the new DJs expect immediate financial success and tend to give up early if it is not shown. Was your path to success easy?
Mass: Success to me is being someone who matters to the industry, and, yes, it was very difficult to get there. No matter how hard it was, I continued and became my definition of a successful DJ.
Paul D: I can definitely agree with that because it took some time for me to get noticed in Abu Dhabi with cultural event planning. What would you suggest for DJs that may be experiencing difficulties with exposure or success?
Mass: Good PR and marketing. Don’t be shy to show the world what you can do. DJ competitions and YouTube videos are a way to show off your talent and, hopefully, you will get some assistance from a DJ who’s already made it.
Paul D: You are a well-respected businessman in the UAE with successful ventures such as UDDJs, F.A.M.E., and the very popular, Ego Urban Lounge. What is the secret to your success?
Mass: I’ve always focused on my priorities and goals. Once I have the vision and path set, the rest is up to God. As humans we need to know what we want to do. Most people at the age of 50 still don’t know what they want to do in life. It’s quite simple once you have your goals in sight.
Paul D: You recently retired from DJing. Why?
Mass: I had to retire in order to reach out for a new set of goals. I had to let go of my ‘passion’; it was time consuming and I couldn’t commit to it 100 percent. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices in life, and learning to let go may be the greatest lesson we have to learn.
Paul D: I totally agree with that. The urban culture of hip-hop, poetry, fashion, and arts has progressed by leaps and bounds in the past few years. Do you notice the growth?
Mass: It surely has, and that’s the reason I opened up EGO Urban Lounge.
Paul D: Ego Urban Lounge has a massive following after being open for less than a year. There are so many clubs in Dubai…what makes yours stand out?
Mass: We are not about the super luxurious, glamorous, high end, elitist, top of the range, branded, nightclub. We are about celebrating being normal, and our intention is to keep things authentic, and offer up good music and not the radio repetitions of the Top 40. We stand for people who don’t want to dress up in tuxedos and go dancing; we want people to simply have a good night out.
Paul D: What can we expect from you in the next five years? 10 years?
Mass: If God is willing and the companies are afloat by then, I’ll retire and travel around the world. I want to help the needy and contribute to the less fortunate, help talented individuals who deserve to be on a higher platform and then maybe I will finally be at peace.