Music business veteran puts his knowledge on paper

dmenconi@newsobserver.comJanuary 24, 2013 

  • More information What: Dave Rose and Bob “The Blade” Robinson discuss and sign their books, “Everything I Know About the Music Business I Learned From My Cousin Rick” and “There Is Nothing Louder Than Dead Air.” When: 3 p.m. Saturday Where: Schoolkids Records, 2114 Hillsborough St., Raleigh Cost: Free Details: 919-821-7766,, or After the reading on Saturday afternoon, head for Rebus Works for another music-themed book event – journalist/author Legs McNeil, writer of many iconic works about the punk era, reading from his books with Gillian McCain – “Please Kill Me” and “Live Through This.” It starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at Rebus, 301 Kinsey St. in Raleigh, and admission is $5. Call 919-754-8452 or see for details.

The title of chapter two in Dave Rose’s new book gives perhaps the most helpful piece of advice ever about the music industry: “Don’t Be an Idiot.” It’s simple, really, but not nearly enough people follow it. Rose’s book, “Everything I Know About the Music Business I Learned From My Cousin Rick” (Shuman & Goldstein Publishing) gives helpful pointers on the avoidance of idiotic behavior – including repeated reminders of the fact that “music” should always come before “business.”

Rose logged time playing in bands before co-founding a record label and getting into band management in the mid-1990s, working with acts including Allison Moorer (who wrote the “My Cousin Rick” foreword), Bruce Hornsby, Little Feat, Sister Hazel and Tres Chicas. He also books concerts, runs the downtown Raleigh bar Deep South and produces events including Gov. McCrory’s recent inauguration.

Q: How did you come to write a book?

A: Mostly I wanted to learn how to navigate the publishing world for artists I work with. It seemed like the easiest way to do that was to write a couple of pieces about how to make your life better as a musician, do something with them on Kindle and teach others to do the same. One paragraph turned into two, then turned into a couple of chapters. Ideas and topics continued to pop up and I kept writing. Before I knew it, I had a couple hundred pages and decided to turn them into an actual book.

Q: How has the music industry changed over the past two decades?

A: We’re in a time where we need really good filters for music. It’s easier than ever to get out there now, but harder than ever to stand out. I remember growing up and it was rare to know somebody in a band. Now it’s hard not to know somebody in a band. But over time, the thing that has not changed is the power of word of mouth, people telling other people about music. In 1977, it was my cousin Rick in person. Today people trust their social networks.

Q: Do too many bands worry about the wrong things?

A: There’s a little story in the book about a band calling me: ‘We’ve hired a lawyer, incorporated as an LLC, trademarked our name, all the legal documents are in place. What next?” “Well, send me some music.” “Oh, we’ve not gotten to that point yet.” There’s a lot of that out there, and they’re really missing the boat on what’s important.

Q: Who do you imagine your book’s audience to be?

A: I’ve heard from a lot of artists who are tired of reading the 400-page Donald Passman book and coming away with a full understanding of mechanical royalty rates, but no idea of how to get the right hometown gig or tell whether or not the first song they’ve recorded is worthwhile enough to continue on that path. Other than entertainment value, this is probably not a book for the seasoned musician. It’s more for someone who wants to understand how to get in, or is so naive they don’t realize they’re actually not a seasoned musician.

Q: What do you hope readers will get out of it?

A: It’s part entertaining motivational book, part memoir, and I hope it opens some eyes without being condescending. I want everyone to love music for its own sake. So I just show the mistakes I made as a young musician and record-company owner, which I definitely made in a major way. A lot of these music-industry books read like an angry stepfather scorning you for everything you’ve done wrong. I hope this book is more me being in the boat with you. Here are some mistakes I made, to help you not make the same ones – although if you wanna go ahead and make ’em anyway, that’s fine.

Menconi: 919-829-4759 or

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service