Steve’s picks for Music Business Success
All You Need To Know to Succeed in the Music Business
If you are serious about music business success, then the following books are absolutely REQUIRED READING!
You can’t expect to succeed in this business if you don’t fully understand how the business works! Very few people are ever really able to make a living in the business. The competition these days is extremely fierce! Raw talent is simply not enough anymore. Major record companies are NOT signing deals with anyone who hasn’t already achieved a certain level of success on their own.
The following books are all books that I have read, some of them I’ve read more than once! I highly recommend all of these books. If you haven’t read them, then do yourself a favor and order them! It will be the best thing you ever did for your music business career!
I have organized this list in order of priority. I most strongly recommend you read at least the first three books listed below. They will give you the foundation for understanding how the music business really works, how to avoid getting ripped off, and how to get out there and release your own record. The rest of the books in the list are all also highly recommended, but some of them are a bit more specialized for areas that you may not be interested in, and some of them overlap with the material presented in the first three books. Some of these are several years old now (as of 2005 as I’m reworking my site), but they are either still very appropriate or they have released newer updated editions.
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1. Confessions of a Record Producer: 10th Anniversary Edition, Revised and Updated – by Moses Avalon
Immediately after I finished reading this book, I had to put it at the top of my list! If you buy only one book, then you have to get this one!! It really tells it like it is, and will make you a bit paranoid about the music industry, but with very good reason. This is from an industry insider that is still working in the industry, and so he uses an assumed named so that he won’t get into trouble for all the dirt he spills about what the industry is really like. If your life goal has been to get a major label deal, you probably will change your way of thinking after reading this book. He tells you what the other books won’t tell you. It’s a very easy to read book that is also hard to put down. This book in conjunction with some of the others listed below will really prepare you for a serious career in the music business. This book shows you what to watch out for, while the other books below go into more detail about music business workings and have more “how to” type of information. In other words, this book is not designed to be a “how to” guide, but you must read it to understand all the ways that the various players in the music business can screw you over and keep you from making any money. Get this book and be prepared!!
2. All You Need to Know About the Music Business: Eighth Edition – by Donald Passman
This is a great book to start with, and is perfect in combination with #1 above and #3 below. A music business attorney who explains the workings of the music business without sounding like a lawyer. A very well written and easy to read book that will not only explain how the music business works, but tells you how to put together your own team and start down the road to music business success.
This one is just as important as the first two books. In fact, these first three books should be the foundation that you start with and should be read at least twice. Tim Sweeney is an independent music consultant and one of the music industry’s most respected experts in the areas of artist development, record promotion, distribution, and retail marketing. This book is a step by step guide to successfully releasing your own independent record, which, as you’ll quickly learn, is the only way to attract the attention of major record labels and even larger independent labels. You need to achieve a certain level of success on your own first before a bigger label will even consider taking a chance on you, and this book gives you a step-by-step guide!
Ruthless Self-Promotion in the Music Industry – by Jeffrey P. Fisher
A really great book on promoting yourself, no matter what you are trying to do in the music industry. This is another book that I have read more than twice. Definitely required reading! Many helpful ideas, and very inspirational. He really knows how to motivate the readers to get results!
Everything You’d Better Know about the Record Industry – by Kashif and Gary Greenburg
Kind of a take off of the title of Donald Passman’s book (see #2 above), but it is a really good compliment to that book. I ordered and read this book several years ago when it was being marketted direct, but now you can get it from Amazon.Com. Very easy to read book showing you how to find success in the recording industry and make money at it! This book really does cover everything you’d better know if you plan on a career in the music business! Highly recommended in addition to Donald Passman’s book. The two books compliment each other very well.
The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook – by Bobby Owsinski
Although this book was written at the end of 1999, it’s still extremely relevant and a must read for anyone wanting to create better mixes. I’ve been recording and mixing professionally for over 12 years, and as a hobby for much longer than that, and I still found a LOT of very useful information in this book that will definitely help me improve my skills even more. Although I knew many of the tips and techniques in this book already, there were still plenty of fresh ideas that I’ll be trying in future mixes.The first half of this book takes you through all the 6 steps of creating a great mix in detail, and offers you some great comments along the way from many great mix engineers. The second half of the book interviews 20 top professionals with great questions that tie in with what you learned in the first half. You’ll find more great tips from these interviews along with details on how these pros got some of their sounds.
If you want to become better at mixing, then you should definitely get this book!
Behind the Glass – Top Record Producers Tell How They Craft the Hits – by Howard Massey
I’m already a full time professional producer/engineer, and, although I do well at it, I’m not on the same notoriety level as the very well known producers and engineers who are interviewed in this book. I love reading about how other producers and engineers work. It’s a really great way to learn not only new engineering and production techniques, but how to work with artists to inspire them to deliver an exceptional performance. This is a great book that you can pick up once in a while if you like and just read sections of it as you feel like it, since it consists entirely of interviews (each interview being usually around four to ten pages in length). This book has also received great reviews on Amazon.Com. Definitely recommended for those looking for a career as a producer or engineer, or even for those looking to produce their own recordings.
Modern Recording Techniques, Seventh Edition
This is a book I already own (earlier edition). It was one of the first books I picked up when I landed my first job at a major recording studio in the Seattle area. Although I haven’t read it straight through as a book myself, I often referred to it as a sort of handbook. This book is used as the primary text book in many audio engineering courses. While it is certainly not an “advanced” book, some of the material can be a bit technical in nature. I recommend this book as a good starter for those looking to get into audio engineering, and also for those “do it yourself” type people who want to improve their technical knowledge and skills.