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TB Compilation: Must-Read Book Recommendations

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by DanielleMuscato, Apr 14, 2008.


  1. DanielleMuscato

    DanielleMuscato

    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    I'd like to start a thread listing specific books you've found that are helpful. I've found a few random suggestions by searching, but I'd like to put them all in one place.

    This thread is specifically not for books about theory, sight-reading, or playing bass, but rather managing a band, touring, playing music as a profession/being self-employed, promoting oneself, networking in the biz, etc.

    I have no formal or informal affiliation with any of these books or their authors; I have just read a LOT of books about this stuff and these are what I consider to be the best of the best. The Amazon links provided are for your convenience only; you might be able to find a better price elsewhere or even get them for free at the library. I'm not getting any kind of compensation or referral fee for posting the links, or anything like that. I just read a lot - at least 2-3 books each week; I own over 2,500 at present, 90% of which are non-fiction - and the only purpose of this thread is to share the wealth with my fellow TBers.

    Here's my list. Please feel free to add your own, and I'll add them to this original post for your convenience.

    1) The Power of Positive Confrontation by Barbara Pachter. I was originally going to post a thread recommending this book by itself. It seems to me that almost all of the things brought up in this forum (Band Management) that have to do with inter-band problems or problems with clubs, talent buyers, etc are caused by a lack of appropriate communication. Good communication means discussing the problem - before it snowballs - using appropriate, powerful and succinct language, and creating a win/win solution. This book saved me from quitting my band of 4 years (and walking away from $4k that was owed to me). All it took was discussing our problems in a positive and constructive way, and this book taught me how. Now, we are playing shows again, being productive, sharing expenses & making some money, and I have a signed promissory note for the money owed to me, with no hard feelings. I am living with much less stress and although we still have conflicts, just like every band, we are productive and happy.

    2) The Musician's Guide to the Road by Susan Voelz. This is the best book I've found when it comes to touring. Susan Voelz gives you some real, down-to-Earth tips for making it on the road. This book is more designed for people who find themselves out on tour, and how to make the most of it and survive, not so much how to arrive at this point. However, it has very valuable information about not going crazy and not going broke and I highly recommend it, even if you never plan to actually tour yourself - it's amazing what touring musicians go through to bring you their live shows and a real eye-opener for fans, too.

    3) Ruthless Self-Promotion in the Music Industry by Jeffrey Fisher. This book is more for someone who's just beginning to realize that you don't have to lose money in order to play music. It has the basics of putting together a plan and mostly focuses on changing your thinking rather than providing specific tips, but IMO, your mindset is even more important than actual tips. Tips only help you when they are applied correctly: It is being creative and understanding your goals and how to reverse-engineer your way there that is the important part. You can come up with your own tips if you know what you want, and this book helps you figure that out. If you want to go straight to the specific tips, check out...

    4) Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook: 201 Self-Promotion Ideas for Songwriters, Musicians and Bands on a Budget by Bob Baker. The title says it all. Not all of these are applicable for every situation and some of them stink with "duh" factor, but there is some GREAT, GREAT stuff in here that every band should consider. Really though, I consider this book to be a jumping-off point for coming up with your own ideas. On that note...

    5) How to Get Ideas by Jack Foster is one of the positively indispensable books in my library. This book teaches you mostly about the literal process of creating new ideas out of combining old ideas and a goal. Jack Foster mostly teaches advertising, where account executives have the occupation of coming up with new ideas all day, every day. If you are trying to accomplish something relatively open-ended, like "promote my band" or "make money making music," this book is a great place to start. I am a firm believer that tips do not help you unless you already have the right mind-set. This book will give you the right mind-set. If you read the "201 Ideas" book above before reading this one, you might get 100 applicable ideas out of it. If you read it AFTER reading this one, you might get 400 applicable ideas out of it. I highly recommend this!

    6) How to Think Like Einstein by Scott Thorpe. This book is similar to the book above, but more broad. I recommend it for the same reasons as the last book. They are both great; if you are have to choose just one, get the other from the library :smug:

    7) The Future of Music by Dave Kusek. This book is about music business and how the industry is changing (and not changing) to accommodate and profit from new technologies. If you plan to sell your music, or if you buy (or download legally or illegally) any music now, this is necessary reading. Dave Kusek teaches Music Business at Berklee College of Music.

    8) How To Be Your Own Publicist by Jessica Hatchigan. I have been in Rolling Stone, People, Time, The New York Times, SPIN, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard Magazine, and on MTV News, VH1, NPR, MSNBC, ABC, Kevin & Bean/KROQ in LA, and Howard Stern because I read this book and combined that knowledge with something newsworthy and put together good team of people to help me. Enough said!

    9) Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki & Sharon Lechter. Everyone interested in making better use of his time, earning an income, and being successful should read this book, if he hasn't already. When you've finished, read "Cashflow Quadrant" by the same authors. These two books, along with the next one, are the reasons I no longer work 60 hours/week as a kitchen manager at a fast-food restaurant, with more debt and less income than I have now. (I'm now a much-happier musician; I'm debt-free, and I have 3 years of income set aside for emergencies. By the way, I'm 24.)

    10) The Joy of Not Working by Ernie J. Zelinski. This book also contributed a lot to getting to where I am now, as far as my job and what I do with my time. In gave me the knowledge - and courage - necessary to quit a job I didn't love so I could do something I'm passionate about, and for a higher standard-of-living, too.

    11) The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko. I know that these last few books don't seem to have much to do with music business, but they are important material for anyone self-employed. The things that kept me from being able to make money as a musician and made it necessary for me to hold a "normal" job are the same things that keep "normal" job holders out there from being truly successful and making the CEOs of their companies rich instead.

    12) All You Need To Know About The Music Business by Donald Passman. This is the industry standard, and still my favorite. There are lots of books on this subject, but this is the best (IMO). It talks a lot about things that may not concern your average working indie band - recording contracts, major label distribution channels, international touring, etc - but the basics are good stuff to know if you plan to make a career out of music. Just like music theory, it is better to know it and choose not to use it than not to know it.

    13) The Real Deal: How to Get Signed to a Record Label by Daylle Deanna Schwartz. This book is not quite what the title says: The author takes the approach (and I agree with her) that in this day & age, if you want to get signed to a label, you should become successful independently first, and then when a label approaches you for a deal, you can tell them, "What can you offer me that I don't already have on my own?" instead of blindly signing whatever they offer you. Record labels rarely develop from scratch these days; they are much more interested in bands that are very successful in a regional or under-ground arena, and then taking that nationwide or global. This book takes you step-by-step through the process of becoming independently successful as a band, and then the second part of the book takes you through the process of attracting the attention of labels who can help you take that to the next level. Even if you only read the first half of this book, it's well worth the it.

    14) Behind The Glass: Top Record Producers Tell How They Craft The Hits, by Howard Massey. This book is more about recording, but it is so good that I wanted to include it in my "must read" list. Even if the extent of your recording goals are a 3-track demo at a local studio for the purposes of getting more gigs or putting on your MySpace, you should read this book first.

    15) Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. This is the best book about networking I have found. I really believe that in music - in all business, really - it's not what you know, but who you know. Some people, especially artists, seem to be stuck in this mindset that networking is only for used-car salesmen, or that networking means handing out two business cards at a time during dinner. This is not so, and networking is not a bad thing because it's mutually beneficial. The key to networking (and to getting press, in my experience) is not seeing what you can get, but seeing what you can give. This book is great at helping you figure out how.

    I hope this helps. Please feel free to post your own favorites, and I'll add them to the list so they're all in the first post. Please include a link to the book on the web, the author's name(s), and a short description of the book, what you learned from it, and why you're recommending it!

    Best,

    Dave

    ----------

    Suggested by zongeek:
    Tour:Smart: And Break The Band by Martin Atkins and The Musician's Atlas, edited by Jude Folkman.

    Suggested by Croox:
    This Business of Music: Marketing & Promotion and
    This Business of Global Music Marketing, both by Tad Lathrop.

    Suggested by Will!!!:
    The Daily Adventures of Mixerman by an anonymous person, and it seems this book is currently unavailable, both from the official website and from Amazon.

    Suggested by Ground Pounder:
    Unleashing the Ideavirus by Seth Godin - a series about target marketing, geared at "passionate types who need to break away from the generic approach" according to GP, and available in hardcover, paperwork, and legal free PDF download.
     
  2. worker201

    worker201

    Mar 21, 2008
    Temporarily, TX
    Wow, great post!
     
  3. DanielleMuscato

    DanielleMuscato

    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Thanks :) Feel free to add your own! I'm looking for suggestions, too, haha :smug:
     
  4. Subscribed. I know I'm lacking in this kind of knowledge. Good topic, Dave. :thumbsup:

    FWIW, I like the "Idiot's Guide to..." series and the few Mel Bay books I have on scales and modes. I looked at others, but Mel Bay's make sense to me.

    I've got a bunch of links to good sites on my comp at home - I'll edit this post later to reflect that, if it's okay.
     
  5. Outlaw_son

    Outlaw_son

    Mar 8, 2007
    Omahell
    Exellent post. Im on my way to the B&Nbles
     
  6. worker201

    worker201

    Mar 21, 2008
    Temporarily, TX
    I read tons, but just not in this vein. Currently working through "Rotten: No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish". Recently finished "Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk" and "Main Lines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader". Would totally recommend each of them.
     
  7. DanielleMuscato

    DanielleMuscato

    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Are you talking about playing bass, or band management? Is there even an Idiot's Guide... to band management/music business? I've seen the one re: actually playing bass, but that's another forum...
     
  8. DanielleMuscato

    DanielleMuscato

    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
  9. sloppysubs

    sloppysubs

    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    TOUR:SMART by Martin Atkins.

    I find this book to be incredibly helpful. Also, Martin is a really nice guy to boot.
     
  10. DanielleMuscato

    DanielleMuscato

    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Thanks for the tip, zongeek. I'll add it to the OP...
     
  11. sloppysubs

    sloppysubs

    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC


    Thanks Dave.

    A friend of mine e-mailed me some suggestions, he says he swears by those books. I have yet to check them out, however, I will post them when I check that e-mail again.


    Another thing I thought of would be the Musician's Atlas. It comes out every year and is a really great and comprehensive book with venues, promoteres, places, etc.... Worth it if you are looking to gig away/tour.
     
  12. DanielleMuscato

    DanielleMuscato

    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    I have Musician's Atlas but I don't recommend it as a must-read because the information changes so much and it's mostly ads. The online version is more frequently updated and more comprehensive, although it costs more, it's actually useful IME/IMHO.

    http://www.musiciansatlas.com/pages/order.asp

    Really though, I don't think this resource is worth the $. Sonicbids and a solid network of other bands is a much more effective way to get college gigs and road gigs than blindly zapping out promokits to people who don't know you. You could spend many thousands of dollars doing that and not see a single gig. I prefer to network with other bands - opening for each other, touring together and splitting booking duties (trading off openings, for example), and sharing connections that local bands have established with clubs/colleges, rather than starting from scratch with a list of clubs & talent buyers who will chuck your $8 promokit before they open it.
     
  13. Valerus

    Valerus

    Aug 4, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    This is a great list! I'm going to get a few of these.

    I ALREADY bought The Musician's Guide to the Road by Susan Voelz and it's fantastic!
     
  14. I'm 17 right now, so I'm not living on my own...but that doesn't mean I shouldn't get ready. Those books look like good reads, def gonna check out a few. Rich Dad, Poor Dad gets quite a lot of media and I know a few people who have read it so I may check that out first.
     
  15. Croox

    Croox

    Sep 16, 2007
    South Side Chicago
  16. Will!!!

    Will!!!

    Nov 18, 2007
    Eugene, Oregon
    MIXERMAN!!!!
    How to be in a band and especially how NOT to be in a band.
     
  17. DanielleMuscato

    DanielleMuscato

    Jun 19, 2004
    Columbia, Missouri, USA
    Endorsing Artist, Schroeder Cabinets
    Thanks, Croox and Will!!!. Post #1 is updated with your suggestions.
     
  18. sloppysubs

    sloppysubs

    Nov 24, 2002
    Swansboro, NC
    Great info.!

    I was unaware that the Atlas had a website.

    I'll have to do more research into Sonicbids. I don't know much about them, but I always hear about them. Are they really user friendly?

    The art of business... ahhhh.:D
     
  19. I'm a huge fan of Seth Godin and his series on target marketing. Almost all of his work is geared at folks like us musicians - passionate types who need to break away from the generic approach.

    One good book to start with is "Unleashing the Ideavirus", available in both hardcover and paperback form, or (the best part) in a legitamately free downloadable and shareable .pdf from his website, here:

    http://www.sethgodin.com/ideavirus/01-getit.html

    Also be sure and check out his blog here (I particularly like the "Passion and Pop Curve" post from a few days back):

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com
     
  20. mambo4

    mambo4

    Jun 9, 2006
    Dallas
    hey mods: Sticky this thread please!
     

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