The 8 Best Music Business Books (Because There aren’t 20)


Last Updated Oct 10, 2020

You’re are a busy musician or producer learning to make a successful living from your music. Then you need some great highly actionable books and general knowledge to get you on the right track.

I did the hard work for you — I got rid of the other books that are time-wasters or just fluff. So here are some of the best music business books I founded curated for you.

How to Make It In The New Music Business by Ari Herstand

If you are new to the music industry this is one of the first books that I recommend to people. This isn’t as technical as Donald Passman’s book, All You Need To Know About The Music Business, but it has a lot of practical advice about starting your journey as a professional musician, building a fan base, ideas for promotion, and merchandising. With this book, you will get a broad picture of what needs to be done to have a successful career in the music business. It also provides a lot of examples of strategies that he has personally used and anecdotes of other successful artists.

How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician
713 Reviews
How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician
  • Hardcover Book
  • Herstand, Ari (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 528 Pages - 11/05/2019 (Publication Date) - Liveright (Publisher)

Get More Fans

“Today, if you’re making music that the world wants to hear, it’s only a lack of hard work; knowledge and imagination that can hold you back.”

Jesse Cannon

Jesse Cannon, a well-known mastering engineer, turned author has written a comprehensive guide on how to, well, get more fans. It is packed with 600 pages of experience he has had in the industry distilled down to an easy to read reference book.

You will be able to use this book to help grow your audience for years to come.

Recommended For: I recommend this for anyone that has already ready “How To Make It in the New Music Business” by Ari Herstand (My next book recommendation. This book’s focus is a little narrower so it is able to go deeper into the strategies on how to build up a fanbase.

Get More Fans: The DIY Guide to the New Music Business (2023 Edition)
364 Reviews
Get More Fans: The DIY Guide to the New Music Business (2023 Edition)
  • Cannon, Jesse (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 706 Pages - 07/10/2015 (Publication Date) - Musformation (Publisher)

Work Hard Playlist Hard: The DIY playlist guide for Artists and Curators

“The best part for an artist is that all of the pre-orders are counted on day 1. This means that all the “sales” over the weeks leading up to that release are all calculated on release day. This strategy is how many labels and artists would have a “number 1 on iTunes on release day”, although they may go quiet in the days that follow.”

― Mike Warner, Work Hard Playlist Hard: The DIY playlist guide for Artists and Curators

The author, Mike Warner, is an independent artist, and a Spotify playlist curator who is quickly becoming the go-to expert in the streaming music world. He has been a freelance Streaming A&R agent for independent artist and major labels leading strategic streaming campaigns.

He brings all of together and wants to share the knowledge his has gained in the streaming world to help artists of all levels get a foothold in the world of streaming in this book. He teaches how to grow an audience through profile enhancement, data analysis, automation, and creating value as a curator. So if you have had questions such as: how to build a playlist following, pitch to other curators, grow your own network — then this is the book for you. Turn yourself into a Spotify playlist expert.

Work Hard Playlist Hard: The DIY playlist guide for Artists and Curators
29 Reviews
Work Hard Playlist Hard: The DIY playlist guide for Artists and Curators
  • Mike Warner (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 06/17/2019 (Publication Date) - Tablo Pty Ltd (Publisher)

All You Need To Know About The Music Business

Donald S. Passman an entertainment lawyer with over 30 years of experience will teach you everything you need to know about the music business and more. This is the book they use to teach music business in schools. Now on its 10th edition, it stays up to date with the latest changes and advancements in the music industry.

No matter if you are a performer, or aspire to be one, songwriter, manager, even just a hobbyist producing music in the bedroom, he covers every topic that you need to know to navigate the complicated world of the music industry.

Recommended For: I recommend this book for anyone that takes their music seriously. This is the bible of the music industry and if you want to successfully navigate through all the complicated topics such as copyrights, publishing deals, and royalties, then this is an essential book for any musician. It does all this while staying entertaining and fun.

All You Need to Know About the Music Business: 10th Edition
2,430 Reviews
All You Need to Know About the Music Business: 10th Edition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Passman, Donald S. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 528 Pages - 10/29/2019 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

The Prosperous Hip Hop Producer: My Beat-Making Journey from My Grandma’s Patio to a Six-Figure Business (The Prosperous Series) (Volume 2)

“Music is simply the soul boiling over into sound. When you produce with this in mind, there is no way you’ll ever miss the mark.”

Curtiss King

The world of hip-hop production has become as competitive than ever and Curtis King, the author of this book, documents his roller-coaster ride though the industry. This is a story of an artist, and entrepreneur, making the right and wrong decisions while allowing you to have a passenger seat view.

If you are a producer and are struggling with problems creatively or with business, then you find that Curtis went through that same problem you are having right now. You just need to read the book to find the solution.

Recommended For: I recommend this for anyone that is a producer — this isn’t just for hip-hop producers, however some anecdotes will be from that point of view — any artist can get a lot of valuable knowledge on the “mindset” of making it in the industry and practical advice while being given a basic blueprint for success.

Music, Money, and Success 8th Edition: The Insider’s Guide to Making Money in the Music Business

This probably isn’t a book that you will sit down and read through like Ari’s Book, but this book will be an invaluable book to reference as you go deeper into the music industry want to learn about all the ways of monetization. If you have very wondered how money flows through the music industry, then this book has detailed examples of how to make money in the music industry, how to get paid. As it is now on its 8th edition, this book is staying modern and is incorporating all the changes that have been happening in the music industry.

The reason it can go into the depth that it does is because of the combined experience of the brothers Jeffrey and Todd Brabec. Jeffrey Brabec is Vice President of Business Affairs for BMG Chrysalis and a professor at USC teaching music licensing, music publishing, film, television, and video game scoring, and song contracts. Todd Brabec was the  ASCAP Executive Vice President with 37 years of experience in operations — They know a thing or two about the music business, especially on the publishing side.

I would recommend getting this book after reading though All you Need To Know About The Music Business.

Music Money and Success 8th Edition: The Insider's Guide to Making Money in the Music Business
151 Reviews
Music Money and Success 8th Edition: The Insider's Guide to Making Money in the Music Business
  • Brabec, Jeff (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 688 Pages - 11/01/2018 (Publication Date) - Schirmer Trade Books (Publisher)

“Non-Music Business” Business Books

Even though the music industry has been moving and changing at a rapid pace these past few decades, the actual business of music has been slow to keep up. There are dozens of other fields that are adapting and changing well with the times.

So let’s not only limit ourselves to books solely focused on the music business. As with listening to a multitude of genres, reading about the business of other industries can open you up to better and more creative ideas.

The Go Giver

“Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.”

Bob Burg, The Go-Giver

This is not a book specifically on the music business, but contains one of the most powerful business ideas that will totally change your perception of “business” in general. If you are like me, when you think of the word “business”, things such as corrupt, greedy guys in suits trying to take your money. But what if I told you, that is not how real successful businesses operate, especially in the age of the internet.

The focus of running your business, and your music is a business, is to focus on giving rather than getting — putting your audiences’ or fans’ interests first and providing real value leads to getting more in the long run.

This is a quick read, probably about an hour, but has a powerful lesson on business and life. This website probably wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for this book.

Recommended For: Artists and creatives who get a bad taste in their mouth when they hear the world “business, marketing, and promotion”.

The Go-Giver
9,164 Reviews
The Go-Giver
  • John David Mann,Bob Burg (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 07/24/2024 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books Ltd (Publisher)

Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work

You are a musician, producer, or other creative. You don’t follow the traditional paths of life or career, but you have a internal crisis of turning this creative endeavour into a serious full time commitment. Turning pro is about taking a hard look at yourself in the mirror and deciding that it is time to take this creative endeavour and follow the path even though it will be hard and difficult.

Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life's Work
6,004 Reviews
Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life's Work
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Pressfield, Steven (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 146 Pages - 05/31/2012 (Publication Date) - Black Irish Entertainment LLC (Publisher)

Honorable Mentions

Final Thoughts: What is the best music business book in your opinion?

I mentioned a few of the best music business books and a select number of general business books. But I know there are many more out there that I haven’t had the time to read or find.

Have you read any books that you could recommend? I would also check out my other list of books that I think every musician should read.

What are your top music business books of all time?

What are the must-read business books for musicians or producers??

By Chris

Chris is a mixing engineer and enjoys creating interesting vibrations out of nothing.

The Indie Musician Resources

There are 5 spheres of knowledge and skills that go into making and releasing a song successfully. What do you want to develop?



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