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Trying to understand the music business can be a little overwhelming. Thankfully independent artists that have trodden the path before us share their expertise in this list of the best music marketing books. These books will help you navigate your music releases, deal with record labels, understand royalties, the music industry, music marketing, music publishing, and much more.
Table of Contents
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All You Need to Know About the Music Business: Tenth Edition – Donald Passman
Music lawyer Donald Passman has crafted what the LA Times called the “Industry Bible”. Now in its tenth edition, All You need to Know about the Music Business is recommended as the definitive guide for all who are starting out their career in the music business.
First published in 1991, Passman condenses over 30 years of expertise into this hefty book (it’s 544 pages long!). The book’s neatly broken down into the following eight parts:
Part I – Your Team of Advisors.
Contains chapters on How to pick a team, managers, attorneys and agents.
Part II – Record Deals
Chapters covering an overview of the record business, advances, royalties, Record deals, producer & mixer deals, advanced royalties and distribution deals.
Part III – Songwriting and Music Publishing
Including chapters on Copyright basics, Music publishing companies & major income sources, More publishing income, Songwriting and administration deals, and advanced copyright concepts.
Part IV – Group Issues
Two chapters make up this part, ‘Groups’ and ‘What’s in a name?’ which cover the registration and rights of an artist’s name.
Part V – Touring
One big fat chaper on personal appearances and touring.
Part VI – Merchandising
Two chapters cover Tour Merchandising and Direct to fan merchandising.
Part VII – Classical Music
A solo chapter outlining mechanical royalties, advances and terms relating to classical music.
Part VIII – Motion Picture Music
A hefty part containing six chapters that cover an Overview of motion picture music, performer deals, film songwriter deals, composer agreements, licensing, music supervisors, soundtrack record deals
All You Need to Know About the Music Business is one of the classic music marketing books, highly recommended.
This is another music business book that I love! Ari, a professional gigging musician, has written a comprehensive guide for the aspiring musician. How to Make It in the New Music Business covers everything you need to know about the music industry in our digital era. I read it a few years ago and found it very useful in providing an overview of the music business and what actions I can take to improve my music career.
The book explains in detail how to create a following and make money from your music. This information is provided over the following chapters: Explaining the new music industry, release strategy, building your fan base, playing live, booking and music promotion, touring, how to make real money, sponsorships, mastering the internet, crowdfunding, royalties, getting your music placed in film and TV, and Press.
Throughout the book, Ari inserts sections called “The Bridge”. The Bridge sections contain ‘how to’ guides that are relevant to the chapter. I found these really useful as they helped define what actions I needed to take. For example, ‘The Bridge’ in the chapter about releasing your music is called “26 things to do before you release your song or album“. The list provided was so useful I was able to take the action points to help develop my release plan. (You can actually get that checklist for free if you subscribe to Ari’s email list here.)
You can also find more music marketing & music business content on his website www.aristake.com
One of the best music business books available. Highly Recommended.
Bobby Owsinki is a successful producer/ engineer who’s written over 24 books, sharing his knowledge and experience of the music industry, he’s a writing powerhouse! The Music Business Advice Book provides more great advice from this seasoned vet.
Over the last 5 years, Owinsiki compiled a list of 150 invaluable tips from the 130 music industry pros that had appeared on his podcast, he then synthesized them into this book. The book covers advice on charging appropriate fees, tips for networking, and guidance on ‘following your fire’. This a great music business book for both professionals and beginners alike.
You can check out Bobby’s Podcast here.
I’m a big fan of Bobby’s books, his book The Mixing Engineer’s handbook also features in my list of the best music production books.
One million followers? In a month? That sounds too good to be true, right? Well… Brendan Kane did it. He built a combined following of one million users across different social media platforms in just one month. One month!
One MillionOne Million Followers Followers shows you how digital strategist and “growth hacker” Brendan Kane did it.
Kane has a lot of experience in the online music marketing sphere, he has had great success building online platforms for Taylor Swift and Rihanna. He’s also grown the digital audiences of brands such as MTV, Skechers, Vice, and IKEA.
Although this book is not specifically a music business book, the growth and marketing strategies can be applied to any brand or business. The reality is that a lot of our music marketing is going to be done online – so it is worth learning from more generic books to help us build our audience.
The book covers: getting into the million followers mindset, creating shareable content, strategies for driving massive growth on Instagram, how Kane gained one million followers in 30 days, targetting your audience, choosing a message for the masses, social testing, strategic alliances, going global, growth drivers for Youtube, growth with Linkedin and Staying Power
Notable Quote: “Even though building an audience does take a lot of time and effort, it’s actually one of the easier tasks. The harder part is maintaining that following, receiving engagement on posts consistently, and experiencing continual growth.”
One Million followers is an essential guide to growing your social media fan base and building a successful career online.
I’m guilty of holding the stereotype that most artists struggle to make a living from their art. Real Artist Don’t Starve challenges that prejudice, arguing that we can capitalise on our creativity and use it to thrive in the marketplace.
Jeff challenges the notion of the starving artist by focusing on the ideas that created the myth in the first place. He then replaces the ideas with a set of 14 rules to live and thrive by. Here are a few of those:
- Steal from your influences (don’t wait for inspiration)
- Collaborate with others (working alone is a surefire way to starve)
- Take strategic risks (instead of reckless ones)
- Make money in order to make more art (it’s not selling out)
- Apprentice under a master (a “lone genius” can never reach full potential)
As an artist, I’ve definitely had to challenge my thinking around ‘making money with art’. There still lurks a sense that profiting from my art is either selling out or not entirely possible. This book is definitely one that helps musicians challenge these viewpoints. A great book for a bit of validation and reassurance.
Six Figure Musician– Jeff Goins
Six figure musician calls itself “An Open Letter to Any Musician Who Wants to Make $100,000 (or More) in the Music Business”.
Is that you?
If so, this book will help you learn what to do to make money as a musician.
Here’s a taster of some topics the book covers:
- How to get record labels to approach you (instead of you chasing them)
- “The Drip Method” — The most profitable way to release music.
- 4 proven “cures” for music business burnout and overwhelm
- What it takes for a musician to make $150,000/year (with only 500 fans)
- Are you a musician over 40? Why age doesn’t matter anymore…
- A small change in the way you release new music that is so powerful, you will double the money you make.
This book is really encouraging for musicians and I’m sure you’ll find it highly motivating.
Here’s the book’s promo video:
Your Band Is A Virus – James Moore
Your Band Is A Virus is another great music marketing book, written by Independent Music Promotions CEO James Moore. Moore is an independent promoter who writes about all the tactics he tried himself to find success, promote music and gain a larger audience.
The book details how to time a release properly, present the right product to the world, promote to music blogs and publications, and outsource and freelance your way to success.
Moore encourages musicians to build a virtual army of allies, find like-minded people, embrace the free music model, think outside the box, and build upon every achievement. Your Band Is A Virus does all this with actionable plans and a concise, rational approach to help you achieve success with your music marketing efforts. Check it out.
You can find more from James at www.independentmusicpromotions.com.