The Differences Between Songwriters and Topline Writers

The Best Music Business Books to Read Before Signing a Record Deal

For any band, getting an idea of how the music industry works can be eye-opening. Seeking the best music business books can give even industry outsiders a solid idea of how everything works.

Today’s best music business books acknowledge the changing shape of the music industry. You’ll also find how social media apps and streaming have outgrown the more traditional methods of finding stardom.

Random authors don’t just write these books. Instead, they are created by industry veterans. These include insiders who have worked with the biggest and best in the industry.

Getting an insight into their experiences and knowledge can make an enormous difference. So here are some of the best options.

The best music business books to read before signing a record deal

How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician
All You Need to Know About the Music Business: 10th Edition
How Do I Get A Record Deal? Sign Yourself!: Earn Your 1st Million Streams & Find Your 1st True 1,000 Fans
Free PR: How to Get Chased By The Press Without Hiring a PR Firm
Music Business In 10 Easy Lessons: The Deal
HOW TO MAKE A LIVING IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS: Music Business Basics including: Making & Marketing Records, Songwriting & Publishing, Managing & Booking Artists
How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician
All You Need to Know About the Music Business: 10th Edition
How Do I Get A Record Deal? Sign Yourself!: Earn Your 1st Million Streams & Find Your 1st True 1,000 Fans
Free PR: How to Get Chased By The Press Without Hiring a PR Firm
Music Business In 10 Easy Lessons: The Deal
HOW TO MAKE A LIVING IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS: Music Business Basics including: Making & Marketing Records, Songwriting & Publishing, Managing & Booking Artists
$25.99
$27.25
$12.99
$22.99
$14.95
$29.95
How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician
How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician
$25.99
All You Need to Know About the Music Business: 10th Edition
All You Need to Know About the Music Business: 10th Edition
$27.25
How Do I Get A Record Deal? Sign Yourself!: Earn Your 1st Million Streams & Find Your 1st True 1,000 Fans
How Do I Get A Record Deal? Sign Yourself!: Earn Your 1st Million Streams & Find Your 1st True 1,000 Fans
$12.99
Free PR: How to Get Chased By The Press Without Hiring a PR Firm
Free PR: How to Get Chased By The Press Without Hiring a PR Firm
$22.99
Music Business In 10 Easy Lessons: The Deal
Music Business In 10 Easy Lessons: The Deal
$14.95
HOW TO MAKE A LIVING IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS: Music Business Basics including: Making & Marketing Records, Songwriting & Publishing, Managing & Booking Artists
HOW TO MAKE A LIVING IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS: Music Business Basics including: Making & Marketing Records, Songwriting & Publishing, Managing & Booking Artists
$29.95

1: Top Pick: How to Make It in the New Music Business by Ari Herstand

Sale
How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician
  • Hardcover Book
  • Herstand, Ari (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 528 Pages – 11/05/2019 (Publication Date) – Liveright (Publisher)

One of the most famous music books today, Ari Herstand’s guide to the industry, is top-rate. The second edition of “How to Make It” has everything an aspiring musician needs.

It talks about the need not to wait around and create your persona. Whether it is on TikTok, YouTube, or other modern platforms, Herstand covers everything you need to know with fine examples.

Having gone through the DIY approach himself, Herstand takes his personal experiences and applies them to the workings of the industry today. There’s a lot to cover in the 528-page guide, but every snippet offers new insights. Having been lauded critically by many media outlets and top musicians themselves, “How to Make It” is a must-have for any musician pursuing fame.

Pros

  • In-depth coverage,
  • Embraces new developments
  • Verified insider knowledge

Cons

2: Best Seller: All You Need to Know About The Music Business by Donald Passman

Sale
All You Need to Know About the Music Business: 10th Edition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Passman, Donald S. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 528 Pages – 10/29/2019 (Publication Date) – Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

Now into its tenth edition, All You Need To Know About The Music Business is a tried and tested guide for industry rookies. Written by music talent guru Donald Passman, the title covers everything the industry could throw at you.

Whether it is agents, labels, business, or the media, Passman covers it all. This thorough coverage ensures that you won’t be outsmarted by anyone you deal with when your band makes headway.

The latest edition is just as valuable as the first. It now taps into the video streaming boom and the non-traditional methods that bands enjoy success through. It also compares it to the past and merges new evolutions with old-school knowledge to get the best of both worlds. Passman’s title is accredited by superstars such as Adam Levine (Maroon 5), which shows that even superstars still hark back to this legendary series.

Pros:

  • Verified series
  • Easy to read
  • It covers every part of the industry

Cons

  • Only available in hardback
  • More for mainstream artists

3: Premium Pick: Sign Yourself: How Do I Get A Record Deal by Benjamin Groff

How Do I Get A Record Deal? Sign Yourself!: Earn Your 1st Million Streams & Find Your 1st True 1,000 Fans
  • Groff, Benjamin (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 227 Pages – 12/21/2020 (Publication Date)

Ben Groff’s “Sign Yourself!” book rewrites the approach music business books take. Instead of focusing on the corporate approach, it looks at how bands can market themselves. Its no-nonsense style and natural tones cut straight to the point and avoid any fluff content. The 226-page guide is perfect for anyone needing a crash course in marketing themselves to the world.

Ben Groff has worked with multi-million artists across all genres allowing him to draw on this experience to pass on to upcoming musicians. It handles everything a band needs to deal with things directly and helps navigate any pitfalls that come along the way. It is a fresh take on the music industry today.

Pros:

  • Promotes self-management
  • Modern insights
  • Clear and concise

Cons:

  • It avoids some non-music elements
  • Focuses primarily on new strategies

4. Free PR: How to Get Chased by The Press Without Hiring a PR Firm by Cameron Herald & Adrian Salamunovic

Free PR: How to Get Chased By The Press Without Hiring a PR Firm
  • Herold, Cameron (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 238 Pages – 02/13/2020 (Publication Date) – Lioncrest Publishing (Publisher)

Focusing on handling the media, “Free PR” gives aspiring bands a guide on how to market themselves to the world. It covers everything someone would need to manage their brand. Market Yourself? Check. Avoiding unnecessary agents. Check. Negotiating difficult? Check.

It’s a tricky topic to cover but one that Herald and Salamunovic have done in style. Anyone can avoid a PR nightmare by providing advice in easy-to-digest chunks without overcomplicating things.

There are plenty of valuable tidbits thrown into the guide too. This PR guide covers every base, from handling interviews to knowing who to trust. Each point is brought home with relevancy and clarity by reflecting on major incidents and classic examples. It is a helpful guide for anyone negotiating the marketing maze.

Pros:

  • Simple to follow
  • Concise points
  • Practical knowledge

Cons:

  • Slightly overcritical of PR reps
  • Aimed solely at industry rookies

5: The Deal: Music Business in 10 Easy Lessons by Ben McLane Esq.

Music Business In 10 Easy Lessons: The Deal
  • McLane Esq., Ben (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 62 Pages – 08/12/2018 (Publication Date) – Independently published (Publisher)

Not everything needs to be hundreds of pages, as Ben McLane proves in his entry to the music business genre. “The Deal” is a short, sharp guide that cuts straight to how to survive in the music industry.

At just 62 pages, this isn’t a long read. However, McLane makes every word count. Packed full of insightful advice and valuable lessons, any band will get something from reading McLane’s lessons.

It doesn’t shy away from any part of the industry either. “The Deal” covers everything from publishing to deals and hiring managers leaving you with an idea of how everything works. It also encourages bands not to rely on labels and even take on the industry themselves should they so wish. An excellent guide that covers everything without dragging things on unnecessarily.

Pros:

  • Concise
  • It covers lots of topics
  • Easy to understand for all levels

Cons:

  • Over three years old

6: How to Make A Living In The Music Business by Vince Wilcox

HOW TO MAKE A LIVING IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS: Music Business Basics including: Making & Marketing Records, Songwriting & Publishing, Managing & Booking Artists
  • Wilcox, Vince (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 315 Pages – 08/29/2020 (Publication Date) – Independently published (Publisher)

If a band needs to know the fundamental concepts of surviving in the music industry, then Vince Wilcox’s “How To Make A Living” is a great read. Wilcox’s approach starts at the basic and gradually evolves it allowing you to progress with the book as your knowledge grows. It covers everything from making your music to creating your music team. It gives direct and compelling messages to cover all the key aspects an artist needs to know in the modern music industry.

It’s packed with knowledge and examples from Wilcox’s time in Nashville – one of America’s principal music cities. It doesn’t shy away from simple business concepts either. Wilcox’s guide gives practical information on how to survive commercially and creatively in the industry. A concise and practical approach from a veteran music specialist.

Pros:

  • It covers all aspects of the industry
  • Practical information
  • Builds up knowledge gradually

Cons:

  • Only available in paperback

What should the best music business books feature?

If browsing other titles, here are some tips for looking for good music books:

What makes good music business content?

As always, the content in the book is vital. It’s no good reading 250 pages if there’s nothing valuable to gain from it. Therefore, check just what subject matter is involved before making any purchase.

Ensuring that the book’s content is modern and relevant to the industry is perhaps the most significant consideration. If the information is outdated, your chances of success dwindle as soon as the cover is opened.

How can I trust the author?

Before making any purchase, see who the author is and their background. Many music business authors are incredibly knowledgeable and have verified expertise.

These types of insights are critical to helping you understand the workings of the music world. If you struggle to find much about an author or something doesn’t feel right – give it a pass. This allows you to make a much more suitable choice in reading material.

Finding looks that cover your unique genre

The music industry is a vast world to dive into. There are dozens of genres to get involved with – each with its unique quirks. You need to pick a book that covers the genre you work in.

After all, working in EDM is a different lifestyle from heavy metal. The whole industry operates differently, so if you can find specialist material that fits your needs – focus on that. It will help you avoid making little mistakes that could make huge differences later.

Taking these points into account will help you find the right book for you. Your band can find the best music business book for your need and learn from it.

Music Business Books FAQs

Does the length of the book matter when choosing a novel?

Not really. The best music business books deliver their content in different ways. Some give detailed analysis based on experience and examples. Other titles opt for punchy points that hammer the message home immediately. Find out what style you prefer to read and choose based on that.

Should I purchase older editions of a series?

It’s not wise to purchase older editions of a series. The music business is constantly evolving, so most titles become outdated after a few years. The best music business book series always ensure that the fundamentals are retained but tweaked to envelop any new emerging trends.

Are all music business books the same?

No – each series will have a different spin. Every author would have endured different paths to success and based their books on what worked for them. This will undoubtedly vary down to their expertise, location, and the genre they worked in. Try and pick a music business book that caters to your needs. That will then give you the proper insight for your career.

Conclusion

Any of these selections would be a great music business book to read before signing a record deal. The more established authors like Ari Herstand and Donald Passman offer detailed breakdowns of the industry from decades in the industry.

These insights are just as valuable as modern takes made by Ben Groff and Vince Wilcox. No matter what you choose, the best music business books will help give you much-needed insight into the industry and help you find the correct record deal for your band.

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