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Dave Weiner is a bit of a paradox in the music business. He comes off as a blue-collar type: unpretentious, straightforward, and honest — all foreign concepts to most of his peers. He runs his business frugally and with an attention to detail that stands in stark contrast to the fanciful way most record companies operate. Instead of just looking for artists with talent, Dave has made his career by finding talent who also know how to do business, often finding regional players who looked like they had what it takes to go nationwide.

This distinction has made him integral to building some of hip hop’s biggest powerhouses. First, he discovered Master P and helped him turn No Limit Records into a $200 million-a-year force that seemed unstoppable. Years later, he would join Tech N9ne and help him build his label, Strange Music, into an under-the-radar enterprise that put its founder on the Forbes Magazine Cash Kings list.

He’s also been screwed over by “the business” more than most artists — threatened, double-crossed, and overridden. In our interview, he’ll teach us how to bounce back, as well as how to build relationships based on trust and straight talk.

On being direct: It’s very hard to look an artist in the eye and say I know you want a $10,000 video to get all the bells and whistles but we’re going to have to cut those bells and whistles. Hopefully you are going to be able to understand it when you get your statement because we sit down and they are able to look at every nickel and dime and how it was spent and that’s when they go, “Man I remember when we were in New York and you said let’s not get that limo, let’s just walk.” All those little things just add up when they’re looking at their statement. That’s when they appreciate it.

On having a strong moral compass: For me to do my job I need a boss that has the same goals. We have to see eye to eye because I won’t follow directions if it’s not the right thing to do.

Mix Engineer: James Soriano


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