Recommended books
good music biz reference books

Music biz books

Here’s a reading list of books I found useful. There are more off-site music resources on the DIY music links pages.

How the music business works

These are the best books for an understanding of the UK music industry (publishing and recording).

Music the BusinessAnn HarrisonThe best comprehensive book on the UK music business. Very good and practical.
The MMF Guide to Pro Music ManagementMusic Managers ForumThe Lee & Thompson Music Guide has most of the text online. Don’t worry about the title, it isn’t just about management. If you’ve read Ann Harrison and want more detail this is the one, although I disagree with Chapter 13 (Internet issues). The Music Management Bible is basically the same book repackaged. Both have a directory of MMF members (managers) in the back.
The Unsigned GuideUK directoryAn excellent, comprehensive music directory of resources for independents including retailers with rack space for indie and unsigned artists, and student media. Based in the UK NW but relevant more generally. The 2004/5 guide comes in two editions: North West and Greater London.
How To Succeed In The Music BusinessAllan Dann & John UnderwoodA good business addition to Ann Harrison and MMF (artist management) books. Ignore the cheesy title, it’s organised into the various sections of the music business with practical details and directory info. The authors have a modern publishing background.
The Guerilla Guide To The Music BusinessSarah Davis & Dave LaingAnother odd title—this one is a USA/UK guide mainly for live performers with advice from a variety of professionals in different fields, including some basic recording and gigging info. It has some useful background on the music business and a directory of professional bodies, some forms and agreements in the back.
Confessions of a Record ProducerMoses AvalonHow to survive the scams and shams of the music business. This is based on the music business in the USA but it’s a fair guide to big label practice anywhere.
Secrets of Negotiating a Record ContractMoses AvalonThe musician’s guide to understanding and avoiding sneaky lawyer tricks. USA based again, but also relevant to big label contracts anywhere, this goes through a standard contract line by line.
All You Need To Know About The Music BusinessDonald PassmanManagement, contracts, record and publishing deals, copyrights, merchandising, licensing, based on the US music business but with good footnotes on the UK.

How the USA music biz works

The music business in the UK is substantially different to the USA. Donald Passman—above—covers both the USA and UK music business perfectly well but this is a very good, concise summary of the USA.

The Music Business (Explained In Plain English)Naggar and BrandstetterGood concise coverage of the US music business.

Music business stories

Hit MenFrederic DannenPower brokers and fast money inside the music business. This history of modern labels explains why the USA and UK record label bosses are mainly lawyers, and gives some background on cases you’ll know.
ExplodingStan Cornyn & Paul ScanlonThe highs, hits, hype, heroes and hustlers of the Warner Music Group. This is an insider’s history of Warner Brothers Records from 1959 to 1999, including a preface on the earlier Warner/Brunswick story. Cornyn had a number of roles at Warners and he appears to know more about what was going on than some of the bigger names. One of the best record label books.
StonedAndrew Loog OldhamEgocentric and idiosyncratic. Told in quotes from Oldham and other key players: growing up through a number of jobs in Sixties London to the early years of The Rolling Stones. Sharp and revealing about the man and the period—you can read between the lines, and he is honest in his way. The sequel 2Stoned covering the later megastardom and excess is not so good, or such an interesting era.
Bill Graham PresentsBill Graham & Robert GreenfieldTold in quotes, this is the career of the pioneer rock promoter who founded the Fillmore and dominated American music events from the Sixties through to the Eighties. A dreadful Pete Townsend introduction and a lengthy childhood development (in the American style) but a great book. Very interesting and enlightening.
The Creation Records StoryDavid CavanaghMy magpie eyes are hungry for the prize. The Eighties and Nineties UK indie music business around Alan McGee described in detail. Well-researched, well-written and funny. A must-read on UK labels. From the twilight of punk to the dawn of Napster with some surprising insights about the record industry on the eve of destruction, such as Sony blocking Creation’s plans for an online label in 1998.
Where Have All The Good Times Gone?Louis BarfeWell-written and researched story of the record labels right up to date. A useful background for understanding the format changes that are happening today.
PlaybackMark ColemanEqually good but slightly shorter history of recorded media. Both books are worth reading, the overlap is useful revision.
Follow The MusicJac HolzmanThe life and high times of Elektra Records in the great years of American pop culture The inspiring journey of Jac Holzman from post-War record label start-up around 1950 to Major label inconsequence with WEA in 1973. Elektra was awesome in its day and Jac built it.
White BicyclesJoe BoydMaking music in the 1960s A very good Sixties story about Joe Boyd’s work with Elektra, American folk and later his own Witchseason promotions and records, including Nick Drake, The Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention.
Hit And RunNancy Griffin & Kim MastersHow Jon Peters and Peter Guber took Sony for a ride in Hollywood Another excellent account of how artist agency and management runs through the entertainment business, and how the wheeling and dealing is simultaneously irrelevant and essential to mainstream success.
The Last MogulDennis McDougalLew Wasserman, MCA and the hidden history of Hollywood This is the story of Lew Wasserman and MCA (the Music Corporation of America). The roots of MCA in artist agency and management before World War Two is a perfect explanation for the behaviour and expectations of the Major record companies over the next 60 years. This book will help you understand the late 20th century corporate music business mindset (as will Hit And Run).
Ready, Steady, GoShawn LevyPutting the main components of Sixties London (art, photography, fashion, cinema, theatre, music, etc.) into context with brief chapters on key figures. If you want to understand or remember the era this is a good, light summary.
Hippie Hippie ShakeRichard NevilleAnother excellent story of the Sixties UK counter-culture by a legendary journalist of the time.
England’s DreamingJon SavageThe story of Punk based around the Sex Pistols and Malcolm Maclaren. Good.
The Last PartyJohn HarrisThe story of BritPop and the 1990s music scene, well told.
Howling At The MoonWalter Yetnikoff & David RitzYetnikoff started as a lawyer and became head of CBS records. This is a good look at one of the big labels of the period (mid-Seventies to mid-Nineties), the deals and how they were done from his point of view.
The OperatorTom KingA biography of David Geffen. Somewhat journalistic and over-keen on personal trivia, but good in spite of that.
Mr BigDon ArdenDon Arden was an artist turned manager in the Sixties when he schooled Peter Grant and the Seventies when he managed ELO, but Mr Big was just a rumour. A light read, to be skimmed.

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