This is the bible of the music industry. It’s the standard first assignment at top music industry programs like USC’s Thornton School of Music, and it’s probably the most famous instruction manual on the music industry ever written. Even if you never read another book about the music industry ever again, read this one.
The author, Donald Passman, has been a top music attorney for more than 30 years since graduating from Harvard Law. He also taught an advanced music industry course at USC’s law school for many years, and famously negotiated R.E.M.’s $80 million Warner Brothers deal, among other accomplishments. In other words, he knows his stuff.
The topics covered by the book include:
- What managers, agents, and attorneys actually do in the music business, and how to build your team
- How record deals work, and the major points you need to pay attention to
- The business of songwriting and publishing
- A detailed overview of copyrights
- How the business of concerts, touring, and merchandising works
While the book gives you essential knowledge of how the business works, it doesn’t move much further than a solid overview. This is both an advantage (it’s actually enjoyable to read) and a disadvantage. But the biggest flaw of Passman’s book is that it fails to go into any real detail on music streaming, which is becoming an extremely important area of the music business.
For foundational knowledge on the music business, this is a must-buy.