If you’re looking to succeed in the music industry, you can’t depend upon books. You just have to get in there and start throwing elbows. However, music business books will help you throw those elbows more strategically and effectively. Donald Passman is one of the industry’s leaders in all things music biz related. This Top Music Books Review of All You Need to Know About the Music Business will guide you through the most important sections.
What you’ll immediately realize is that Donald is someone who loves what he does. His loose writing style is very entertaining and keeps what could otherwise be daunting subjects fun and engaging. Most importantly, the man has been in the industry for decades and he’s current – two things most people can’t claim. Therefore, he’s someone to trust and taking his advice can only help you.
His most recent edition is the 8th, published in December of last year. Therefore, it’s very fresh and relevant. Like Steve Gordon, author of another fantastic book, The Future of the Music Business, Passman has broken his book into parts. First, he discusses aspects of the biz that will always be the same. This includes treating yourself as a business and making all decisions with a business mindset. These decisions include getting your team together. Who’s on your team? For starter’s, a personal manager, attorney, business manager, agent, and our favorites – the groupies.
Within this first part, Passman describes each team member’s role in detail. He also gives frank advice about where most musicians go wrong in building their team and how you can avoid the same pitfalls. Most importantly, he sets the mood – you must have the right mindset to succeed in this business and you’ll know after this first part what you need to work on to get it.
Part II delves into the murky waters of Record Deals. Passman gives a little history lesson while relating it to what’s going down in the modern industry. If you don’t have a strong grasp of record dealings such as common lingo, mechanical royalty calculations, advances & recoupment, 360 deal rights, and contract obligations, you will after reading these chapters. You remember that I mentioned the guy was current, right? He gives examples that are applicable to the modern music industry and how you can still make mullah with recordings. In addition, Part II describes new business deals such as syncing your music to video games, webcasting rights and what to keep in mind if you choose to work with an indie label.
The third part takes you through the jungle of music publishing deals. The first few chapters in Part III are really important because Donald explains in layman’s terms everything you need to know about music copyright. If you’re interested in making a living in music, you’ll soon understand that all monetary dealings are tied to whoever owns the copyright to your songs. Fortunately for you, after reading this book, you’ll be way ahead. That’s why Passman also discusses the monetary rewards of publishing deals and how they’re very lucrative in today’s modern industry (in fact, while the recording industry is hemorrhaging cash right now, the publishing industry is reporting profit increases every year). There are many streams of income that come from publishing including printed music, mechanical royalties (monies collected from recorded music that you wrote the song for), syncing and transcription licenses, webcasting and performance monies. Each of these income streams has its own chapter.
The first three sections need to be read by all musicians. The sections following are more specific. Part IV is titled “Group Issues” and pertains to bands as opposed to individual artists. Part V covers all things you need to know about “Touring” – as it’s title clearly states. I recommend all musicians read Part VI, “Merchandising”, because that’s a huge part of every musician’s income now-a-days. If you’re a classical musician, like my sister who’s an oboist, you’ll want to spend a lot of time with Part VII, “Classical Music.” And last, because you’re a savvy musician, you’ll spend time with Part VIII, “Motion Picture Music”. Here you’ll discover how to maximize your income with movie music and what rights you need to protect so that you can continue to shop your songs around.
I hope this review gives you a good idea of why you need Donald Passman’s book. Like I said at the beginning, his writings won’t give you success, but they will give you a blueprint to follow and arm you with powerful knowledge. If you’re ready to dive into All You Need to Know About the Music Business, you can purchase his most recent edition by clicking the link below. If you would like to review more books, I encourage you to start with The Future of the Music Business by Steve Gordon.
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