20 of The Best Music Business Books for 2020

20 of The Best Music Business Books for 2020 Banner Image

 

Does 2020 have you looking for a New Years resolution you can make that you’ll actually keep for once?

 

Maybe you’ve considered catching up on your reading, educating yourself on the music business through the many industry books out there. Or, maybe you’re here because you’re looking for a useful gift for the musician in your life and don’t really know where to start.

 

Either way we’ve got you covered! Below is a list of the top 20 music business books to read in 2020:

  1. All You Need to Know About the Music Business (10th Edition)
  2. Real Artists Don’t Starve
  3. Your Band Is A Virus – Expanded Edition (Volume 2)
  4. Get More Fans: The DIY Guide to the New Music Business (2019 Edition)
  5. How To Make It in the New Music Business (2nd Edition)
  6. Start Your Music Business (Volume 1 and Volume 2)
  7. This Business of Music (10th Edition)
  8. Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment
  9. The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory
  10. How Music Works
  11. Six-Figure Musician
  12. Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out
  13. Spotify Teardown: Inside the Black Box of Streaming Music
  14. Music Marketing for the DIY Musician
  15. How Music Got Free: A Story of Obsession and Invention
  16. Show Your Work!
  17. The Realist’s Guide to a Successful Music Career
  18. Artist Management for the Music Business (4th Edition)
  19. The Plain and Simple Guide to Music Publishing (3rd Edition)
  20. The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship (2018 Edition)

 

1. All You Need to Know About the Music Business (10th Edition)

 

All You Need to Know About the Music Business Book Cover

Referred to by the Los Angeles Times as “the industry bible,” this book deserves a spot at the top of everyone’s music business reading list.

 

It’s written by Donald S. Passman, an entertainment lawyer who works with some of the biggest names and companies in the business. So, he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the music industry.

 

Having been around for over 25 years, with updates made to it on a regular basis, the latest edition is one of the most relevant guides on the subject. Whether you’re a songwriter, manager, promoter, lawyer or any other music business professional, you’ll find something in this book for you.

 

2. Real Artists Don’t Starve

 

Real Artists Don't Starve Book Cover

This is a must read book for anybody chasing a career in the music business. It challenges the stigma of the “starving artist” and aims to give readers the proper mindset for success in music.

 

It teaches the importance of strategic risks, how making money can help your art, why collaboration is integral to success and lots more.

 

It’s a realistic and refreshing point of view on an industry that can be overly pessimistic when it comes to making a living.

 

3. Your Band Is A Virus – Expanded Edition (Volume 2)

 

Your Band Is A Virus Book Cover

Without proper marketing and song promotion, even the best music will fall flat. This is why it’s important that independent artists learn how to effectively grow their listener base and get their music out into the world.

 

In this book, you’ll discover the secrets to a powerful release, how to approach bloggers and writers, building upon past achievements and more.

 

Even applying just a few of the tactics that are explained will have a tremendous effect on how your music is received by the industry.

 

4. Get More Fans: The DIY Guide to the New Music Business (2019 Edition)

 

Get More Fans Book Cover

The music business is extremely different from where it was 30 years ago and understanding those differences is where this book comes in handy.

 

Adapted from a popular music blog Musformation, this book aims to teach the indie artist how to build a fanbase and a successful career in the 21st century, without investing a ton of money.

 

5. How To Make It in the New Music Business (2nd Edition)

 

How To Make It in the New Music Business Book Cover

The author of this music business book is Ari Herstand, an accomplished DIY artist with a proven track record. He’s played over 600 shows, performed on the Ellen Show, had his music featured in several TV shows and opened for acts such as Ben Folds and Cake.

 

Needless to say, Herstand knows what he’s talking about when it comes to making a career in the current industry. In this book, he’ll teach you the secret to his success and help take your music from a hobby to a living.

 

6. Music Law Series (Volume 1 & Volume 2)

 

Music Law Series Book Cover

If you’ve been looking for a book that covers all the legal ins and outs of a successful career in the music business, look no further.

 

This massive work spans two books and was written by one of the industry’s leading entertainment lawyers.

 

In it you’ll discover advice on everything from earning royalties, owning masters, sampling music, negotiating contracts, managing debt, how to avoid being sued, trademarks vs copyright, filing taxes and so much more.

 

7. This Business of Music (10th Edition)

 

This Business of Music Book Cover

This is another music business book that has gone through plenty of revisions over the years, keeping it up to date with current trends.

 

The recent tenth edition even features an entirely new chapter asking and answering the question “Are there borders in cyberspace?” 

 

The biggest focus of this book is on the legal aspects of the industry. So it’s an excellent read if this is something you’re hoping to learn more about. 

 

8. Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment

 

Streaming, Sharing, Stealing Book Cover

There’s no doubt that the internet has brought about major changes to the music industry. With sites like Spotify and Apple Music taking over, people consume music in a whole new way.

 

It’s not just music, however, that’s been turned upside down. All media industries having seen massive changes in regards to on demand entertainment.

 

This book educates its reader on the history of streaming and what it means for the current entertainment industry. In it you’ll find a wealth of ideas on how you can stay ahead of the curve and not be left behind in an era of streaming.

 

9. The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory

 

The Song Machine Book Cover

This is a great book for anyone in the music business who wants to expand their knowledge on how to write or spot a hit song.

 

Believe it or not, there are calculated formulas that many industry professionals utilize to ensure a song reaches its maximum potential.

 

This guide looks at what sets apart songwriters like Katy Perry, Max Martin, or Rhianna and what you can learn from them to apply to your own writing.

 

10. How Music Works

 

How Music Works Book Cover

Written by the frontman of the Talking Heads, David Byrne, this book forms an interesting and experienced look at the art form of music.

 

In it he explores life in the industry through topics that include how we create, distribute and consume music. Furthermore, it looks at the bigger picture on how music affects our day to day life and shapes the human experience.

 

If you want a break from reading about the more “business” aspects of the music industry and would rather expand your appreciation for the art form, then this book is for you.

 

11. Six-Figure Musician

 

Six-Figure Musician Book Cover

The title of this book alone is enough to grab any musician’s attention. Who doesn’t want to earn $100,000 or more working in the music industry?

 

This book teaches you to ignore people who tell you that “music isn’t a real job”. Instead, it explains how to treat your music as a business. You’ll find tips on monetizing your fanbase effectively, no matter how many followers you have.

 

With this in mind, “Six-Figure Musician” is a must read book for any indie artist trying to figure out how to make a living in the music business.

 

12. Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out

 

Unlabel Book Cover

One of the things that scares artists away from a career in the industry is the idea that you have to “sell-out” in order to be successful. This book challenges that idea, encouraging musicians to be authentic to themselves in their branding.

 

If you don’t know what it means to be yourself, this book will help you find your voice. It will then teach you the necessary steps to building a brand and forming a sustainable career around it.

 

13. Spotify Teardown: Inside the Black Box of Streaming Music

 

Spotify Teardown Book Cover

Spotify has been leading the charge on music streaming for years. So, it helps to have a full understanding of exactly what it is. That’s where this next music business book comes in handy.

 

The authors take an investigative look into both the front end and lesser known back end workings of Spotify.

 

You may be surprised with what this book uncovers, posing an interesting question around the ethics and legal framework of one of the music business’ biggest players.

 

14. Music Marketing for the DIY Musician

 

Music Marketing for the DIY Musician Book Cover

This is an awesome book for those trying to build a career as an independent artist in the music industry.

 

It’s author, Bobby Borg has over 25 years experience as a touring/recording artist, not to mention a degree in Professional Music from the prestigious Berklee College of Music.

 

In this book he gives musicians a plan of attack for marketing their music in a powerful, yet surprisingly affordable way. Utilizing the tactics in the guide will help you get your music heard by as many fans as possible.

 

15. How Music Got Free: A Story of Obsession and Invention

 

How Music Got Free Book Cover

Not every change caused by the internet has brought upon has had a positive effect on the industry. That’s where this book comes in. 

 

It examines the history of music piracy and the key players in it’s growth both on and off the internet. The stories told form an exciting, yet educational narrative on what was probably the biggest change that the music industry has ever seen

 

16. Show Your Work!

 

Show Your Work Book Cover

Unlike other books on this list, this one doesn’t have any fancy business tips for succeeding in the music industry. Instead it’s a book for the creative side of every artist.

 

It encourages creators to let their fans in on the creative process. Furthermore, it points out the importance of consistent content, both for your audience and yourself as an artist.

 

It’s an easy read that will help you become less self conscious about your work and more willing to share it with the world.

 

17. The Realist’s Guide to a Successful Music Career

 

The Realist's Guide to a Successful Music Career Book Cover

At first glance, this may seem like every other book discussing how to form a career in the music business. However, there’s a couple factors that set it apart from the rest.

 

Most notable, this book features interviews with some of the music industry’s most prolific individuals. These includes quotes from people like Huey Lewis, Susan Tedeschi, Chuck Leavell, Victor Wooten, Jake Cinninger, Nikki Glaspie and more.

 

These interviews pair perfectly with the wealth of tips on what it takes to find success in the music industry.

 

18. Artist Management for the Music Business (4th Edition)

 

Artist Management for the Music Business Book Cover

Managing artists is a skill that takes a lot of patience, dedication and a very specific mindset. Not everyone is cut out to be a manager. However, if it’s something you want to pursue, this book is a must read.

 

In it you’ll learn the ins and outs surrounding things like networking, negotiation, income management, the changing social media landscape and much more. 

 

Filled with interviews and case studies, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more in-depth resource on the topic.

 

19. The Plain and Simple Guide to Music Publishing (3rd Edition)

 

The Plain and Simple Guide to Music Publishing Book Cover

Music publishing is a convoluted process. It’s a daunting aspect of the music business, but this book aims to clear any confusion.

 

If you have no idea what music publishing is and how integral it is to your music’s success, this is a great place to start. If you’re a seasoned pro in the music business, chances are you’ll still find something to make this book worth your while.

 

20. The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship (2018 Edition)

 

The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship Book Cover

2020 is the age of the entrepreneur. More and more professional fields are seeing self-employed individuals form a successful career themselves. The music business is no different and this book teaches you everything you need to know as a “musicpreneur.”

 

It talks about what it takes to be an entrepreneur, and the ins and outs of starting or acquiring businesses.

 

Whether you’re a musician, studio owner, manager or any other form of musicpreneur, there’s plenty to learn in this book.

 

Conclusion: Best Music Business Books of 2020

 

The music business can be a tricky field to navigate as an indie artist. Thankfully there are plenty of books out there, full of tips and tricks to succeeding in the industry.

 

Once again, our top 20 recommended music business books for indie musicians in 2020 are the following:

  1. All You Need to Know About the Music Business (10th Edition)
  2. Real Artists Don’t Starve
  3. Your Band Is A Virus – Expanded Edition (Volume 2)
  4. Get More Fans: The DIY Guide to the New Music Business (2019 Edition)
  5. How To Make It in the New Music Business (2nd Edition)
  6. Start Your Music Business (Volume 1 and Volume 2)
  7. This Business of Music (10th Edition)
  8. Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment
  9. The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory
  10. How Music Works
  11. Six-Figure Musician
  12. Unlabel: Selling You Without Selling Out
  13. Spotify Teardown: Inside the Black Box of Streaming Music
  14. Music Marketing for the DIY Musician
  15. How Music Got Free: A Story of Obsession and Invention
  16. Show Your Work!
  17. The Realist’s Guide to a Successful Music Career
  18. Artist Management for the Music Business (4th Edition)
  19. The Plain and Simple Guide to Music Publishing (3rd Edition)
  20. The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship (2018 Edition)

 

If you found this guide useful be sure to share it with your friends. Check out the rest of the Sundown Sessions Studio blog for more tips and tricks on songwriting, home recording and music business.