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Top 5 books to read if you want to Thrive in the Music Industry

Let’s face it, the music industry is shady. Historically it has been a place of questionable business practices, terrible contracts, and gangster politics. In the present, it’s a little harder to hide the industries dark underbelly, especially for the exceptionally curious. Nevertheless, artists are getting screwed every day and not just the ones who flex on Snapchat. Writers, producers and others who remain behind the scenes are getting played even worse.

Luckily, knowledge really is power. Now this list can’t fix all the issues you will run into as you take on the music industry. However, it will certainly help prepare you for some harsh realities of an industry dressed in glam. Below is my list of five books you MUST read to make it in the music industry.

Break The Business by Ryan Kairalla

This was actually the first book I read on the music industry back in 2016. The author Ryan is an entertainment lawyer by trade and has a few things to say about legal issues in the industry. This is a great book to read to find out the basics of music law, copyrights, artist contracts, and pretty much anything that deals with music law. He also has a podcast where he talks about the ins and outs of the music industry. You can check it out here.

Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Industry by Fredric Dannen

From a writer’s standpoint, the investigative reporting conducted for this book, outstanding. The book outlines many of the shady practices done throughout the industry, starting around the mid 70’s. This book is widely known throughout the industry and a guaranteed must have in any serious music enthusiast collection.

Artist Management for the Music Business by Paul Allen

An in-depth look at what it means to be a manager in the music industry and how to do it. Though not written for the artist, it can still inform one on what a manager’s job actually is. Though the role of an artist manager is constantly evolving in the streaming era, the tactics and theories explored in this book cannot be ignored.

The Big Payback: The History of The Business of Hip-Hop by Dan Charnas

An almost encyclopedic account of the history of hip-hop. Most of the big names are included in this tale, from Grandmaster Flash to Diddy and Jay. For anyone aspiring to enter into the hip-hop world this book is for you

How Music Got Free by Stephen Witt

What happens when an entire generation commits the same crime? That question is what this book explores as it breaks down how exactly we got here. The book details how the creation of the MP3 file changed the music industry forever. For me, this book is the most recent account of the most notable creation in the history of the music industry.


Honorable Mentions:

  • All you need to know about the music business by Donald S Passman
  • Music Money and Success by Jeffrey Brabec


Did I leave anything out? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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