Recommend Some Books For Breaking In To The Music Industry
July 11, 2007 6:42 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend some books on the recording industry that would be helpful to someone wanting to enter the field?

One of our members at Beatking is exploring a career in music and was looking for material that dealt with:

1. The solo musician (NO bands)
2. Deals with computer music
3. Covers aspects of getting music into TV, movies, or video games
4. Good networking tips
5. Covers the dark side of the music industry; pitfalls to watch out for

The book doesn't have to cover all 5, but at least one of the topics. If you know a title, could you let me know what numbers it covers? Thanks.
posted by DudeAsInCool to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Start here:
posted by mikeand1 at 6:53 PM on July 11, 2007

I mean
posted by mikeand1 at 6:53 PM on July 11, 2007

not a book, but i'd recommend getting a (free) subscription to TapeOp. Even if you're not interested in recording technology per se, every issue has some really substantive interviews w/a diverse set of artists and music recordists..really "in the trenches" stuff.
posted by The_Auditor at 7:14 PM on July 11, 2007

All You Need To Know About The Music Business by Donald Passman is a good overview of the industry and how it functions in general, and Music Money and Success by Jeff & Todd Brabec is good for an overview of how publishers use songs (this includes standards for licensing in video games, movies, etc.) and what's typical in music contracts (so you don't get screwed by the label). In the interest of full disclosure, the Brabecs were my professors for a semester in college, so I may have some bias, but they know their stuff (VP at ASCAP and major guy at Chrysalis).
posted by fishmasta at 7:57 PM on July 11, 2007

Hit Men by Frederic Dannen
posted by rhizome at 8:00 PM on July 11, 2007

Music Genres and Corporate Cultures by Keith Negus was a pretty good study of the music industry before the intarweb changed everything. It's not going to teach anyone how to be successful in the music industry, but it will get rid of some of the pretty sheen on the whole endeavor.
posted by billtron at 8:08 PM on July 11, 2007

Start here:

That article is from 1993. It's difficult to imagine it being very relevant to anyone anymore.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:27 PM on July 11, 2007

Seconding the Tape Op subscription. I think two or three issues back they had a great interview with someone who primarily does music for TV and film. I found it very illuminating, it shed light on the business and practice of doing that kind of work. My dad also reads it just for the artist interviews which he finds to be better than those in the slick music review/journalism type magazines.
posted by safetyfork at 4:08 AM on July 12, 2007

I make my (modest) living as a musician, most of it from TV work & used to work for a company that made high end studio equipment.

Through those jobs, I've talked to countless aspiring musicians over the years. I'm on a pretty low rung of the music-ladder, but I'm happy to chat with most people interested in learning from my expereince.

On the other hand, I (and many other working musicians I know) are immediately repulsed when we're approached by people who are clearly following the advice of a "make it in the music biz" book. They come across as if their sincerity was financed by guitar center... it puts them at a disadvantage.

Books that describe how the industry works are still helpful, as are well written interviews like the ones in Tape Op. Books that provide advice on how to "make it" in the industry exist to make people unpleasant.
posted by yorick at 5:54 AM on July 12, 2007

Heartily seconding the Passman recommendation.
posted by andrewraff at 7:14 AM on July 12, 2007

Ethan Brown's Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler covers some of your requirements (1, 3, 4, 5) in varying detail, while (2) not at all. If you're a fan of hip-hop/rap there's a lot of historical/anectdotal information.
posted by subajestad at 3:59 PM on July 12, 2007

Response by poster: Thanx guys, all really helpful.
posted by DudeAsInCool at 5:16 PM on July 12, 2007

Amendment to my last post: I think that article is somewhat dated, but here's what Steve Albini said last week:
2) How true is what you wrote in the problem with music today? Are most of those pitfalls easier to avoid because of less expensive equipment? Just curious.

It is certainly possible to avoid the mainstream industry altogether, but that would have been my advice 15 years ago as well. It remains that if you get involved with the mainstream music business, even today, you're screwed.
posted by ludwig_van at 12:58 PM on July 15, 2007

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