12 Books Every Music Maker Needs!

I've been making music as a full-time career for a little over 6 years now, and I wouldn't have been able to do it without reading/listening to these 12 books. I hope you'll take the time to invest in your mind, so that you can live the life that you want to be living in the very near future! Note: I strongly recommend audio books. They make it a lot easier to consume all this amazing knowledge while we hustle through our busy days.

1. All You Need to Know About the Music Business: 10th Edition

Summary: For more than twenty years, this book has been universally regarded as the definitive guide to the music industry. This latest edition leads novices and experts alike through crucial, up-to-date information on the industry’s major changes in response to today’s rapid technological advances and unpredictable economy. Whether you are—or aspire to be—a performer, writer, or executive, veteran music lawyer Donald Passman’s comprehensive guide is an indispensable tool. He offers timely, authoritative information including: how to select and hire a winning team of advisors and structure their commissions and fees; navigate the ins and outs of record deals, songwriting, publishing, and copyrights; maximize concert, touring, and merchandising deals; understand the digital streaming services; and how to take a comprehensive look at the rapidly transforming landscape of the music business as a whole. Why you should read this: This book is regarded as the music industry “bible.” It’s both comprehensive and informal, meaning it covers the key components of the music industry in-depth while still being an entertaining read. This book is a must-have resource that you’ll constantly reference when questions arise. Learn more about this book here.

2. Get More Fans: The DIY Guide to the New Music Business

Summary: With every day that passes, the power the major labels once had dies a little more. The chance to get the same exposure as your favorite musicians gets easier. The hurdles that would only allow you to get popular—if the right people said your music was good enough—are gone. You can now get exposed to thousands of potential fans without investing tons of money (like musicians used to) by building a fanbase based on listeners’ love for your music. Why you should read this: This is a modern book for independent artists from an author who “gets it.” It’s filled with relevant, quality advice on how to market your music and grow a following. If you’re a one-person team, this book is an essential guide for establishing your career. Learn more about this book here.

3. This Business of Music, 10th Edition

Summary: The bible of the music industry with over 500,000 copies sold! Now in its tenth edition, This Business of Music has been revised and completely updated to reflect the latest changes in the ever-evolving music business. An entirely new chapter has been added, asking and answering the question “Are there borders in cyberspace?” The answer is yes, and this book clearly and concisely explains what they are and how to maintain them.  Why you should read this: The book is a bit outdated, but nonetheless offers expert advice into the business side of the music industry. It’s a great tool to understand the legal side of the business. Learn more about this book here.

4. How To Make It in the New Music Business

Summary: Incredibly comprehensive and brutally honest throughout, How to Make It in the New Music Business covers every facet of the “new” business, including how to: • Build a grass-roots fan base―and understand the modern fan • Book a profitable tour, and tips for playing live, such as opening vs. headlining etiquette, and putting on a memorable show • Become popular on YouTube, Spotify and SoundCloud • Get songs placed in film and television • Earn royalties you didn’t know existed and reach your crowdfunding goals • Musicians will not only be introduced to all the tools available today but will be shown how to effectively leverage them to actually make money. More important, they will develop the mindset to be aware of new advancements both online and in the real world and always stay in tune with a constantly evolving landscape. Why you should read this: This book is a modern classic written by an experienced touring musician. The book does a great job explaining the current makeup of the music industry, offering real world advice for how to break into it. Learn more about this book here.

5. Music Marketing for the DIY Musician

Summary: Music Marketing for the DIY Musician is a proactive, practical, step-by-step guide to producing a fully integrated, customized, low-budget plan of attack for artists marketing their own music. In a conversational tone, it reveals a systematic business approach employing the same tools and techniques used by innovative top companies, while always encouraging musicians to stay true to their artistic integrity. Why you should read this: An excellent resource for artists that struggle with marketing. It’s a comprehensive marketing guide, meaning you can jump around the book reading only the sections you need. Learn more about this book here.

6. Music Money and Success 7th Edition: The Insider’s Guide to Making Money in the Music Business

Summary: Music, Money and Success: The Insider’s Guide to Making Money in the Music Business tells you how the business works, what you must know to succeed, and how much money you can make in films, television, video games, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, record sales, downloads and streams, advertising, ringtones and ringbacks, interactive toys and dolls, Broadway, new media, scoring contracts and synch licenses, music publishing, foreign countries and much more. Why you should read this: This book breaks down the confusing world of publishing and copyrights. A great resource if you’re considering starting a record label. Learn more about this book here.

7. The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory

Summary: New Yorker staff writer John Seabrook tells a fascinating story of creativity and commerce that explains how songs have become so addictive. Travelling from New York to Los Angeles, Stockholm to Korea, he visits specialized teams composing songs in digital labs with novel techniques, and he traces the growth of these contagious hits from their origins in early ’90s Sweden to their ubiquity on today’s charts. Featuring the stories of artists like Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Rihanna, as well as expert songsmiths like Max Martin, Ester Dean, and Dr. Luke, The Song Machine will change the way you listen to music. Why you should read this: Whether or not you’re a fan of pop music, this book explains how the pop industry has exploded to the size it is today. This book does a great job explaining the growth and development of the pop genre, allowing you to take away insights to apply to your own genre. Learn more about this book here.

8. How Music Works


Summary: How Music Works is David Byrne’s incisive and enthusiastic look at the musical art form, from its very inceptions to the influences that shape it, whether acoustical, economic, social or technological. Utilizing his incomparable career and inspired collaborations with Talking Heads, Brian Eno, and many others, Byrne taps deeply into his lifetime of knowledge to explore the panoptic elements of music, how it shapes the human experience and reveals the impetus behind how we create, consume, distribute, and enjoy the songs, symphonies, and rhythms that provide the backbeat of life.  Why you should read this: This book is an extremely fun and insightful read, written by the Talking Heads frontman David Byrne. How Music Works dives into what makes music catchy, and how musicians adapt their music to different venues and mediums. A great read if you want to learn about the business but want a more “leisurely” read. Learn more about this book here.

9. Likeable Social Media

Summary: Packed with brand-new case studies from today’s emerging social sites, this updated edition of Likeable Social Media helps you harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing to transform your business. Listen to your customers and prospects. Deliver value, excitement, and surprise. And most important, learn how to truly engage your customers and help them spread the word. Why you should read this: Social media can launch and fuel an artist’s career. Rather than read about marketing techniques from a musician, learn from someone who’s exclusively focused on social media. The book is easy to read, with plenty of clear, easy to understand examples. Learn more about this book here.

10. Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out

Summary: Marc Ecko shares the bruising mistakes and remarkable triumphs that reveal the truth behind his success, growing from a misfit kid airbrushing T-shirts in his parents’ garage to the bold creator of two hugely successful branded platforms—Ecko Unltd. and Complex Media. As Ecko explains, it’s not enough to simply merge your inner artist with business savvy, you must understand the anatomy of a brand, starting with its authentic spine. Why you should read this: This book explains the cross-section of creativity and business. If you’re worried about how to stay true to your music while sustaining a career, this book is a great read. Learn more about this book here.

11. The 4-Hour Work Week

Summary: Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, or earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint. Why you should read this: This book is a personal favorite of the EDMProd team. It’ll change your perspective on the modern workplace, teaching you how to craft a business that works on its own. As an artist, you’re also an entrepreneur. The hacks and tips in this book will help you be more efficient and effective, not just in production but also in your career.  Learn more about this book here.

12. How to Win Friends & Influence People

Summary: Dale Carnegie’s rock-solid, time-tested advice has carried countless people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. One of the most groundbreaking and timeless bestsellers of all time, How to Win Friends & Influence People will teach you: • Six ways to make people like you • Twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking • Nine ways to change people without arousing resentment Why you should read this: The book is a classic for self-improvement in your personal and professional life. Highly recommended in the corporate world, this book will teach you tools and techniques for navigating success in the music industry (and life). Learn more about this book here.

There you have it! 12 must-read (listen-to) books for anyone wanting to make it in the music industry. Don’t read them all at once, pick one that speaks to you and go for it. But do consume all of them at some point. Educate yourself. Improve. Win. Knowledge is power.

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