In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.
It’s not enough just to be a skilled writer: the more you know about how the industry works, the easier it will be to build a career and make a living out of your art.
Ari Herstand: How to Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician
(Liveright, 2017) I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the music industry has changed a lot in the past ten years. No, the world has changed a lot in the past ten years. And you might not know this yet, but in our age it is 100% possible to build a career, connect with thousands of fans and make a living as a musician without a record deal, manager, agent or anything like that. And Ari Herstand’s book is the best resource out there for explaining how. Whatever kind of music you make, and whatever kind of artist you want to be, every songwriter interested in sharing their music with the world should read this book.
(Simon & Schuster, 2015)
We might live in an age where being an indie, DIY musician is about the best kind of musician you can be, but it’s still good to know about how the traditional music industry works, especially if you’re interested in being part of it one day. Donald Passman’s book has been the go-to resource on the music industry for decades and, now in its Ninth Edition, is absolutely worth checking owning. Better yet, buy it in conjunction with Ari Herstand’s How to Make It in the New Music Business and apply both books’ lessons in the way that works best for you.
(Theatre Communications Group, 1996)
If you’re interested in writing songs for the stage — from a single song to an entire show — Dana Singer’s Stage Writers Handbook is a great place to start learning about the business. It explains clearly on what to expect when navigating deals with collaborators, producers and theatre companies too.