My journey in pictures

Friday, January 7, 2011

Music business in the "Deep South"

How come it ALWAYS seems like I'm standing in a hole?

I met Dave Rose in his bar in downtown in Raleigh, NC. The bar was a great rock room that also sounded great. Dave said that they didn't have a clue as to how to decorate it so they just had their friends "decorate" the walls:

He and his business partner started this bar 3 years ago to give them other outlets for their music. I tell him that I'm REALLY surprised that they are actually doing well with this bar. Dave says that they've been MUCH more successful than they really expected it to be. Well, the thing about this bar is that we're 7 nights a week, this is the room (size-wise) that people want to play in (nowadays). You put 125 people in here and it feels like a packed house. The energy is here, we ended up hiring the best sound guy in the city and we give them (artists) "the door" (usually around $5).  Dave and his partner Andy Martin started in the business back in the mid 90's making comps of their favorite mostly regional bands for free and ended up having so much success with that that they evolved from an Indy record company to adding management (over the years managing Little Feat, Bruce Hornsby, Stryper...) to booking and now they pretty much do a million other things from promoting events to helping businesses with their merchandising and branding. He said when they started, he was playing in a cover band and Andy was working at a McDonald's. "I  would drive through the drive-thru and hand him contracts to sign". I was REALLY interested in asking him about business from his "seat". Dave says that he's seeing artists now less likely to move to the major music centers to "make it". The notion that I (the artists) got to go to Nashville, L.A. or New York is not as prevalent as it used to be. So what is the regional circuit nowadays? It's Raleigh, Charlotte, Richmond (VA), Charleston (SC), Greenville (Sc), Columbia, Myrtle Beach (SC)... 
What would you suggest for a new Country act right now? I think as far as country acts... a lot of people go to Nashville too early. I’d have them work on their craft and to get really good at what they do, hone their songwriting skills, their live show and then make the move. The advice and approach that I would take with a country act as oppose to a rock act would be almost completely opposite. Good or bad to really break top 40 country, you’ve got to be in Nashville. There is STILL a great talent pool in Nashville that can help (the artist). I don’t think touring in "Country" is nearly as important as just getting really good at what you’re doing and then get to Nashville and make those connections!
He said something really interesting (to me).
Dave says: Every band that I work with, I try to get them NOT (to) sell themselves short on the video. I get more youtube clips nowadays than anything (from new acts). 
He also says in living so close to Duke, NC State and UNC, that they have a TON of GREAT interns that are really brilliant with new media marketing ideas and are really talented and innovative in video production. Interestingly enough, they've not hired many "music business" interns over the years. Dave says that they've had a LOT of interns but more so from the marketing, public relations, and communications departments. He really listens to these kids (interns) because they don't have the template that the older generation (me included) have put around the marketing of music.
The corporate music business may REALLY be in the shitter right now but that don't seem to be effecting these guys so much. They've got staff of about 7 or 8 people that seem to be working their asses off. It was good for me to see. :)  In the words of Mr. Neil Young "Keep on rocking in the free world"!

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