10 Best Books About The Music IndustryMay 7 , 2018
Making a living in the music business has become more complicated than ever, with most artists earning their money through a variety of different income sources. To gain a full understanding of this intricate world, these books can shed light on where the industry has been and where it's heading.
The 10 Best Books About The Music Industry
- "3 Kings: Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, and Hip-Hop's Multibillion-Dollar Rise" by Zack O'Malley Greenburg
- "How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician" by Ari Herstand
- "The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret" by Kent Hartman
- "Raw: My Journey into the Wu-Tang" by Lamont "U-God" Hawkins
- "The Plain and Simple Guide to Music Publishing: What You Need to Know About Protecting and Profiting from Music Copyrights" by Randall D. Wixen
- "Get More Fans: The DIY Guide to the New Music Business" by Jesse Cannon and Todd Thomas
- "All You Need to Know About the Music Business" by Donald S. Passman
- "How Music Got Free: A Story of Obsession and Invention" by Stephen Witt
- "Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business" by Fredric Dannen
- "Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells" by Tommy James with Martin Fitzpatrick
U-God Talks About His Memoir
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Zack O'Mally Greenburg On The Moguls Of Hip-Hop
Many of us spent our teen years struggling to learn the guitar in our parents' basements, but with top tours sometimes grossing hundreds of millions of dollars, for some, music can be big business. For those interested in learning more about how to earn a living making music, this list has everything from biographies of successful hit-makers to practical guides about how to navigate this tough industry.
Starting us off at #1 is "3 Kings: Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, and Hip-Hop's Multibillion-Dollar Rise." Zack O'Malley Greenburg traces the careers of these three record moguls as they went from artists to producers and label owners, then expanded their empires to include fashion, high-end alcohol, and electronics. This eye-opening work shows how hip-hop grew to be more than just a genre of music, and uses over 100 interviews to put its subjects in a historical context.
At #2 is "How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician." This how-to guide covers all the basics of earning a living as an artist in an era where web presence is crucial. Ari Herstand walks readers through the pitfalls of touring and collecting royalties, and explains how to gain a following on YouTube, Spotify, and other web services. If you're just starting out, this is an invaluable resource.
Our #3 choice is "The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret" by Kent Hartman. You may not have heard of the Wrecking Crew, but you know their music. This group of studio musicians played on thousands of songs for artists like The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, and Derek and the Dominos. Anyone who's ever wondered how it's possible to earn a living without being a star can learn a lot from this title.
With the #4 selection, we have a memoir from Lamont "U-God" Hawkins, a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. In "Raw: My Journey into the Wu-Tang," Hawkins tells his story of growing up in the New York City projects in the 1970s, raised by a single mother, and how he befriended the other members of the group that would take the music business by storm. U-God's unfiltered account doesn't gloss over the difficulties in his life as he covers his rise to fame and the lessons he learned along the way.
Coming in at #5 is "The Plain and Simple Guide to Music Publishing: What You Need to Know About Protecting and Profiting from Music Copyrights." Randall D. Wixen's text has become essential reading at university level music industry programs, and it's easy to see why. Covering copyrights, licensing, and streaming models, musicians will come away with a greater understanding of how to make sure they're getting the money that's due to them.
Kicking off the back half at #6 is "Get More Fans: The DIY Guide to the New Music Business" by Jesse Cannon and Todd Thomas. Thanks to the Internet, independent musicians have more of an ability than ever to connect with their fans on an individual level. So how do you use services like Facebook and SoundCloud to develop a following? This book is all about the simple things you can do to grow your audience and turn them into fans willing to pay to hear your music.
At #7 we have "All You Need to Know About the Music Business." Donald S. Passman's book has long been a must-read for anyone hoping to make it in music. Regardless of whether you're an artist, manager, promoter, or a record company executive, this dense read will cover everything from contracts and commissions to concert tours and merchandising.
The #8 choice focusses on the history of digital music piracy. In "How Music Got Free: A Story of Obsession and Invention," Stephen Witt zeroes in on the key players who changed the business behind an entire art form. Those who still remember going to the record store to buy CD's will be captivated by this tale of the industry being turned upside down as it was forced to reinvent itself.
The #9 pick goes back in time to cover the glory days of pop music. With "Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business," Fredric Dannen reveals the sordid dealings and tense rivalries that made up the rise of the major American record labels. Though it may be a bit out of date, this look at the good old days shows why the rosy image of the past may not be what it seems.
Rounding out the list at #10 is "Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James and The Shondells." Tommy James rose to fame with hits like "I Think We're Alone Now," but he did so in an era where making it big meant getting your hands dirty. This is a fascinating look into what it was like to be a young artist in the days of payola and a corrupt record industry.
No matter whether you have dreams of rock stardom or you're just a big fan who wants to learn more about your favorite artists, there are a lot more great books that can shed light on the music business. One thing we know for sure is that someone tinkering in a garage somewhere is about to blow us away and change the industry forever.
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