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  • Writer's pictureKimmy Dickson

5 Indispensable Books To Make a Living as a Musician

Updated: Jul 20, 2021



How do you make money as a music artist? Playing gigs is one way. Finding live events to perform at? That's another way.



But what if there are no gigs available in your area? What happens if you start but are struggling to make it through?


What if you're looking for something more stable than the unpredictability of gigs, or maybe just an alternative to playing cover songs at bars all night long?


If this describes you and your situation, then read on! In this blog post, we'll discuss five books that will help any musician - from the beginner to the veteran - find better success.


The Plain & Simple Guide to Music Publishing (4th Edition) by Randall D. Wixen


The Plain & Simple Guide to Music Publishing is an invaluable resource for music creators at every stage of their careers, musicians starting in the business, and veterans looking to boost their sales.


Get answers to your most pressing music publishing questions from veteran writer Randall Wixen with a foreword by industry legend Tom Petty, now in an updated 4th edition: A plain-spoken, straight-talking approach that offers advice and realities on how these volatile industries work today.


When it comes to selling your songs (or any type of intellectual property), you need all the information about copyright law as well as sound management guidelines.


The traditional "publishing" contract has undergone vast changes since its initial inception, yet there's been very little guidance given up on the present state of the music industry (including contracts, copyrights, and more).

This guide will show you the way.


All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald S. Passman (10th Edition)


Music can be an overwhelming experience when you start learning everything that goes into A&R artist development from being signed to recording album sales.


All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald S. Passman has some deep insights that will help get you started in understanding the basics.


The "music Industry bible"-- as The Los Angeles Times calls it -- covers topics on how to make it big and understand contracts, what royalties are, and other income sources like production, marketing your product, live performance fees, songwriters nights, or showcases–all this good stuff.


The 10th edition is now updated to address the biggest transformation of the music industry yet: streaming.


Updated, right on time.


Music Law in the Digital Age (2nd Edition) By Allen Bargfrede


You’ve created your spectacular tunes, crafted a catchy handle for yourself, but what do you do when the song you want to release today is tomorrow's theme music?


What if someone steals your work? What are you going to do when the industry rips you off?


Allen Bargfrede isn't just a pioneer of the digital music industry -- he's also a relentless crusader in the fight against copyright infringement and unfair distribution of profits.


His legal perspective, after decades as an attorney with his firm -- Bargfrede & Associates -- and another 20 years at two major publishers (EMI/Capitol Records and Warner Music Group), is refreshing, concise, and remarkably current.


With his book Music Law in the Digital Age, Allen helps you navigate through our constant parade of lawsuits over rights ownership in this fast-paced digital era (one where both creativity plus commerce collide).


Today, it's more important than ever to understand music, laws applicable to your work, and more.


Be sure to hoist the book up there on your bookshelf.


How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician (Second Edition)


It can be hard enough to make a living on your own, but then when you factor in the challenges of an ever-changing industry - well, the outlook can turn downright bleak. But it doesn't have to stay that way.


This new edition of How To Make It in the New Music Business is here to help with practical tips on how to build a loyal following and get booked for more gigs.


Renowned musician, blogger, New York Times contributor, and Forbes columnist Ari Herstand takes readers through today’s music landscape: what it will take for musicians to thrive outside of their home region or genre; what is constant and changing about musicians' duty towards self-promotion, and more.


Author Ari Herstand delivers a detailed, no-nonsense manual on how to navigate modern music industry life.


Along with updating all that’s changed since the first edition, this second volume offers inspirational stories and advice about taking charge of your destiny in an era when anyone can succeed—if they have an adequate DIY work ethic mastered.


This is the guide for artists who want to take control of their careers.


Dissecting The Digital Dollar By Chris Cooke


The third edition of Chris Cooke's best-selling Dissecting the Digital Dollar has been significantly updated to take account of developments since 2014.


Chris Cooke is back with a whole new round of updates for 2018 on how streaming services are making an impact in all facets of music, from Beyonce to Drake to Adele; and what that means for major labels like Warner Music Group.


This third edition is updated to take account of developments since 2014 when Dissecting The Digital Dollar first came out.


Not only does it delve into Apple Music & Spotify - including their impact on traditional commercial radio and TV services – but discusses emerging trends like Audiocodes which make it possible for any CD or LP record store owner to stream their inventory live through anywhere in the world with just one single stereo chord


Thanks to Apple Music, Spotify is now operating on more or less a level playing field with traditional commercial radio and TV services. Chris helps show the path to the new technologies, apps, platforms, and the potential of the digital landscape to shape your music career.


Go digital. Now.


Which of these books are you going to hang on to and dig your head in?


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