32 Books Every Musician Should Read
Books every musician should read to create a successful career in music is listed on this list. In order to be successful in anything you must be willing to remain a continual learner.
Let’s face our reality as musicians regardless to genre, reading is fundamental! I’m not speaking of reading sheet music, although if you know how good for you and if you want to learn you should, however, I’m referring to reading books.
Reading is an essential habit to becoming a great musician. The best way to keep growing is to stay thirsty for knowledge. And one of the best ways I know to quench this thirst is reading.
Time is a precious commodity. Musicians may sometimes be short on time, but the most successful are still usually insatiable readers.
But if you personally can’t commit to reading dozens of books a year, commit to just this short list of books every musician must read.
Why Musicians Should Read Everyday?
Well you can’t really go wrong in my experience. I nearly always learn something new from every book I read! Knowledge is power… reading gives you knowledge that can make you a powerful individual based of what kind of information you’ve learned.
There are several benefits of reading every day.
Some of those benefits are mental stimulation, stress reduction, knowledge, vocabulary expansion, memory improvement, stronger analytical thinking skills, better writing skills, improved focus and concentration, tranquility and free entertainment.
Take the time now and check out this video on “Why You Should Read Books and The Benefits of Reading More”!
In our internet-crazed world, attention is drawn in a million different directions at once as we multi-task throughout our day.
In a single 5-minute span, the average person will divide their time between working on a task, checking email, chatting with a couple of people (via google chat, skype, etc.), keeping an eye on; twitter, facebook, instagram and snapchat, monitoring their smartphone, and interacting with co-workers etc.
This type of ADD-like behavior causes stress levels to rise, and lowers our productivity.
Studies have shown that staying mentally stimulated can slow the progress of (or possibly even prevent) Alzheimer’s and Dementia, since keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power.
Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, so the phrase “use it or lose it” is particularly important when it comes to your mind. Reading a book is found to be helpful with cognitive stimulation.
When you read a book, all of your attention is focused on the story—the rest of the world just falls away, and you can submerge yourself in every fine detail you’re absorbing.
Try to read for 15-20 minutes before you begin anything on your to do list and you’ll be surprised at how much more focused you are once you get to working on your tasks for the day.
Even if you just read ONE book on the business of music, it will probably double or triple your understanding of the business of music… and that can take your career to places you’ve never even imagined.
When you desire to improve upon a skill, regardless of what the skill is, consistency is key. Consistent, daily practice at reading books that matter to musicians is the key to being much more efficient and keeps you much saner.
I’ve got a number of tasks that I try to invest time into on a daily basis. Reading is one of them! Everybody’s priorities and daily schedules will vary from time to time but it is imperative that you make time for reading every day right along with the other things every serious musician should do every day.
What Books Should Musicians Read?
There’s a reading genre for every literate person on the planet, and whether your tastes lie in classical literature, poetry, fashion magazines, biographies, religious texts, self-help guides, street lit, romance novels, music theory or music software, there’s something out there to capture your curiosity and imagination.
Ultimately, it is my choice as a musician, I could watch TV or play a computer game – OR – I could read a book that will help me to work at and get better with my craft.
As a fellow musician, I just want you to be conscious of this choice.
If you have a serious dream that you want to pursue in music, then you need to put in a lot of hours working at it, in reading and practice.
Step away from your computer or instrument for a moment, break open a book, and replenish your craft, intellect, soul or spirit for a little while and do this every day.
Most book recommendations often swerve towards mundane self-help books or the latest fiction novel. This is not that list. These books will broaden your music history knowledge, build your character and skill as well as keep you inspired.
Whether you need something to inspire you or help you to learn something new about your craft, technique, technology, laws, wisdom or financial literacy, these books are perfect for any musician.
In this post I want to share a list of books every musician should read who are thinking seriously about creating a successful career in music.
The 32 Books Every Musician Should Read
The essential guide to the music industry, “All You Need to Know About the Music Business” , written by music attorney Donald Passman is in its ninth edition. The book covers every topic from changes over the past two decades to music lawyers, marketing your band, and how to be successful in the music industry.
Myles Munroe helps you to discover the untapped wealth of your potential ability and rise above your past experiences to unearth the hidden treasure within yourself.
This book is a mixture of science and creativity. Daniel J. Levitin’s This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession discusses how music is recognized by us and those around us, how and why musical tastes form, and what it takes to make a great song.
This book offers information for musicians, songwriters, performers, singers, and producers on the industry, including hiring managers and accountants, establishing a budget, copyright and contract law.
This is an open letter to any musician who wants to make $100,000 (or more) in the music business. In this book David Hooper details how to sell more music, get more people to your shows, and make more money in the music business.
6. “Indie Business Power: A Step-By-Step Guide for 21st Century Music Entrepreneurs” by Peter W. Spellman
Indie business power focuses on serving this fast-growing population of “micro” music businesses from booking agencies, indie record labels to web services and music production houses. There is a coalition of music entrepreneurial activity inspired by segmenting markets, loads of small business support resources, and empowering digital tools and media. This book is will guide you through the steps to become a successful music entrepreneur.
7. “Automatic Wealth I: The Secrets of the Millionaire Mind-Including: As a Man Thinketh, the Science of Getting Rich, the Way to Wealth & Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill and James Allen
The bestsellers on this book give sound advice about money or how to obtain it. If we stay focused on our dreams there is nothing that we can imagine, that we can’t do. So what are we waiting for, begin the journey of self fullfillment with this book.
The professional marketplace is flooded with outstanding musicians, forced to compete for a shrinking number of “traditional” opportunities. The Savvy Musician helps balance three overriding aspects of your professional musical life: (1) building a career, (2) earning a living, and (3) making a difference.
With this book you will discover how to build an immediately recognizable “brand,” capitalize on technology—from Internet tools to the new recording paradigm, expand your network, and raise money to fund your dreams. The Savvy Musician is an invaluable resource for performers, composers, educators, students, administrators, industry employees, musicians and others interested in a thriving musical future.
9. “Awakening Your Business Brain: A Guide to Launching your Music Career” by Jennifer Rosenfeld and Julia Torgovitskaya
Can you really be an artist and a businessperson at the same time? Jennifer Rosenfeld and Julia Torgovitskaya, founders of iCadenza and Cadenza Artists, are here to share the lessons of their music career coaching business and talent agency with you and help you awaken your business brain.
Artists receive a lot of misconceptions about the business side of art: that focusing too much on self-marketing is detrimental to your artistic growth, or that making sacrifices for a big contract is “selling out.” Along the way, musicians are taught that they can be an artist or a businessperson, but not both. Jennifer and Julia say that not only is it possible to be both, it’s essential for survival in today’s music world.
This book is a guide to mentoring yourself into a successful career in music. Talent is something you can nurture through constant practice. Success is a totally different game and requires much more than talent and practice.
This book by Angela Myles takes you through the different aspects of how you can make a successful career in music without losing the soul and heart of your creativity. Musicians can use this book as a step-by-step guide to succeeding in establishing a music career.
The Autobiography Of Gucci Mane is raw, pure, and compelling biography intended for both fans of hip-hop and those interested in America’s modern society. You will find no sugar-coated words or extravagant language here, just honesty, pain, struggle, reflection, and redemption.
This long anticipated book—started while Gucci served in a maximum-security federal prison. This is by all accounts, an insightful and vulnerable look at one of America’s most interesting artists. Passionately anticipated and widely praised, Gucci Mane’s autobiography records the dubious rise of a rapper who, from day one, was overwhelmed with a number of challenges, from drug addiction to incarceration. But at the end of the day, he managed to overcome them all.
Eileen Southern was the first black woman to be appointed a full termed professor at Harvard, and her book is a monumental work of scholarship, drawing on memoirs, ledgers, slave advertisements in newspapers and other sources to reconstruct the history of African-American music-making from 1619 to the age of hip-hop. A musicologist, Southern is strong on both music and the history behind it, expertly shaping a story of exile, oppression and resistance.
Music has existed for a millennia, but recorded sound only arrived with Thomas Edison in the late 19th century. How did the arrival of records change music? It’s a huge, perplexing question, and Eisenberg’s book remains the classic treatment. He approaches his subject from both philosophical and psychological standpoints, discerning the difference between collective and private listening, examining the ways records function as assets, and explaining how people define themselves by the records they listen to.
Jimmy Webb offers a master course in how to write a song. It’s fascinating to follow his unusual approach, and the book excels because it describes, in accurate detail, the thought patterns of a guy who writes entirely outside the box.
Motown’s shrewd founder Berry Gordy used the drive toward desegregation in the ‘60s as his highway to the huge white market. To get there, he walked tricky lines: Early argue that the crossover brand of soul Gordy shaped was “neither bleached nor blackened,” and though Motown produced a long string of hits, Gordy ruled his music factory like Henry Ford, keeping Motown’s musicians and writers anonymous, setting up schools to prepare his acts for middle-class white venues, and conceal ideas he didn’t like. Yet, as the author beautifully illustrate, the music became immortal as a result.
16. “Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age” by Steve Knopper
When the record business messed up through its early-21st-century aftereffect, Steve Knopper wrote an insightful look at the mistakes that set the industry up to deteriorate. Looking in hindsight may be 20/20, but Knopper’s careful recounting of the music business’ errors — beginning in the post-disco bust years and ending with iTunes’ rise — lays out a clear case for what the higher-ups missed while celebrating their successes.
This is a classic guide to independent music promotion. With this manual, you’ll discover that music marketing doesn’t have to be expensive or flashy to be effective. Whether you’re promoting a fast-growing indie band, record label or solo act from your basement, the Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook gives you the tools you need to get the most out of your music career.
Music Law provides all the legal information and practical advice musicians need. This edition is thoroughly updated with the latest changes in copyright and trademark law, including guidance on filling out “Form CO.” Plus, find expanded information on musical collaborations between DJs and other musicians. You’ll also get the most up-to-date legal forms avaliable.
Now in its fifth edition for 2017 the popular music business guide has added 20 pages including a bonus chapter! 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 and easier.
The difficulties 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 1% of what musicians used to do by building a fanbase based on listeners who have love for your music. No more writing letters hoping that A&R writes you back. This book explains how you do it.
This priceless book 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.
This essential reference is written by industry insiders Todd Brabec, Educator, Entertainment Law Attorney and former ASCAP Executive Vice President and Worldwide Director of Membership, and Jeff Brabec, Vice President of Business Affairs, Chrysalis Music Publishing.
This Berklee expert speaks on how to market and distribute your songs and group. Sell more music! Learn the most effective marketing strategies available to musicians, leveraging the important changes and opportunities that the digital age has brought to music marketing. This versatile and unified approach will help you to develop an effective worldwide marketing strategy.
Step by step, you will develop an active marketing plan and timeline tailored to your unique strengths and budget. You will learn to time your marketing campaign effectively, publicize your music to traditional print outlets and emerging online opportunities, understand the current opportunities for online, satellite, and terrestrial radio play as well as navigate various retail and distribution options, both at brick-and-mortar and online options, such as iTunes, Amazon Music, and other services.
In this expanded and updated third edition, the author adds greater depth to such increasingly important topics as the rapidly shifting industry paradigms, the growing importance of streaming and subscription models, a discussion of new compulsory license media, the impact of copyright terminations and reversions, updated advice on current license prices, as well as all the basics of copyright and rights management.
Hit Men is the highly controversial portrait of the pop music industry in all its wild, ruthless glory: the insatiable greed and ambition; the enormous egos; the fierce struggles for profits and power; the vendettas, rivalries, shakedowns, and payoffs. Chronicling the evolution of America’s largest music labels from the Tin Pan Alley days to the present day, Fredric Dannen examines in depth the often dishonest, sometimes illegal dealings among the assorted hustlers and kingpins who rule over this multi-billion-dollar business.
Start your music career off right with this fun guide to the music industry. Music Business For Dummies explains the ins and outs of the music industry for artists and business people just starting out. You’ll learn how file-sharing, streaming, and iTunes have transformed the industry, and how to navigate your way through the new distribution models to capitalize on your work.
It all begins with the right team, and this practical guide explains who you need to have on your side as you begin to grow and get more exposure. Coverage includes rehearsing, performing, recording, publishing, copyrights, royalties, and much more, giving you the information you need to start your career off smart.
Learn how to share your music and talent with the world by harnessing the power of live streaming technology – and make money doing it. Discover the tips and tricks to make your next streaming gig a success – from the technical setup, to marketing and promotion, and of course, getting paid. This guide will show you how it is easier than you might think, and the rewards go well beyond just making some extra money.
This basic resource is for anyone in the music business. Every business arrangement in the music industry comes down to the written agreement between the parties engaged in the project at hand. When you’re co-writing with other songwriters or making publishing agreements, recording agreements with independent record labels, or film sync license agreements for music used in TV, film, the Internet and commercials, what is in writing is what ultimately governs the deal with you and your business.
Whether you are the publisher, label, studio, producer, engineer, or artist, The Music Business Contract Library contains over 125 different contract templates and forms that you need, along with Greg’s professional experience in commentary on how he has used them and why. This massive library comes with online media, which delivers over 125 forms in fully editable Microsoft Word format for use in your own business.
Playing music should be as simple and natural as drawing a breath, yet most musicians are hindered by self-consciousness, awareness, self-doubt, and stress. Before we can truly express our inner self, we must first learn to be at peace and overcome the distractions that can make performance difficult.
Kenny’s unique work deals directly with these hindrances, and presents ways to let our natural creative powers flow freely with minimal stress and effort. Includes an inspiring CD of meditations designed to teach positive thought. This book has become a favorite of many musicians who credit it with changing their lives! Many are so impressed that they buy copies for their musician friends as gifts.
This book is a step-by-step guide to a well-known Harmony and Theory class. It includes complete lessons and analysis of: intervals, rhythms, scales, chords, key signatures; transposition, chord inversions, key centers; harmonizing the major and minor scales; and more!
29. “Shortcuts to Hit Songwriting: 126 Proven Techniques for Writing Songs That Sell” By Robin A Frederick
Here are 126 Shortcuts that will take your songs from good to great! Discover the melody and lyric writing techniques of today’s top songwriters and learn how you can use the very same secrets to give your songs the power and edge that will make listeners want to hear them over and over again.
This simple-to-use, complete reference work has been updated, expanded and redesigned to meet the needs of today’s most demanding wordsmiths. Included in here are over 10,000 new entries–over 60,000 in all, sight, vowel, consonant, and one-, two-, and three-syllable rhymes.
31. How To Be Your Own Booking Agent: The Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring by Jeri Goldstein
How To Be Your Own Booking Agent THE Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring tackles such topics as: The Art of Negotiating; How to Eliminate Cold Calls—Make Friendly Calls; Setting Long-Term Goals; New, more.
It also offers current immigration regulations for touring artists, new scripts for contacting potential presenters, strategies for contact relation management, crowdfunding and a completely revised chapter on The New Recording Industry
32. The Artist’s Guide to Success in the Music Business: The ‘Who, What, When, Where, Why & How’ of the Steps That Musicians & Bands Have to Take to Succeed in Music, Second Edition by Loren Weisman
The Artist’s Guide to Success in the Music Business, 2nd Edition, is a detailed analysis of the subjects that all musicians should understand and apply to pursue a successful and sustainable career in music today. Full of practical advice, this music industry book provides comprehensive details on how to achieve self-empowerment and optimize your success in today’s music business.
From production and performance tips to marketing and career-building advice, this music business book instructs and empowers artists on how to take the hard-earned lessons of a fellow musician and put them to work in their own careers. Take your music from passion to profession. From promotion and performance tips to marketing and career-building advice, Loren Weisman serves up lessons from his twenty years as a working musician and a music business consultant.
Knowledge is power and what you do with that knowledge is the key to success! You’ve gotten insight on why musicians should read and what kinds of books musicians should read. Now you can make an strategic decision on what to spend your time in reading and learning right now. And should be the first book you purchase!
This list is a must-read for musicians in the early stages as well as seasoned in the business of music, who are trying to push through distractions, insecurities and ignorance. Staying persistent and determined in achieving your goal is the fuel you’ll need to get to your desired destination in life and business as a musician, singer, performing artist, etc.
An easy way to influence your social circle and create a different environment on the inside and around you is by reading. This allows you to meet and talk with great personalities through their books. It is as if you could virtually be engaging with them while having coffee. At least that is what happens when I read a book by someone on a subject that I’m interested in, such as music.
On the contrary; when you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t feel like work at all. You love every minute of it, you loose track of time, and it’s what you live for. This same method is required when taking time to read a book that will help to perfect and fine tune what you love to do.
Somethings you learn because you have too some you learn because you want too. It is imperative that when choosing a book to read that you not forget this. Don’t be distracted by your friends who probably aren’t working towards a goal like this one, but know that there are “successful” musicians who are putting in the hours right now in reading.
I hope these books every musician should read inspires you to want to read until you’ve learned all you can to create a successful career in music. Perhaps, You are only interested in how you can create more income as a musician. I wrote an article The Top 5 Major Money Makers In The Music Industry be sure to read it and learn what you can do to increase your income.
Do you have any book recommendations for musicians? Post them in the comments section below!
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