Books

Revised Book Explains the Business of the Music Business

President Donald Trump signs the Music Moderizaiton Act on October 11, 2018. Performers inlcuding singer/rapper Kid Rock (wearing a hat, 'natch), former Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, and soul legend Sam Moore of Sam and Dave look on.
President Donald Trump signs the Music Moderizaiton Act on October 11, 2018. Performers inlcuding singer/rapper Kid Rock (wearing a hat, 'natch), former Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, and soul legend Sam Moore of Sam and Dave look on. Official White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian/Wikimedia-Public Domain
All You Need to Know About the Music Business—Tenth Edition
By Donald S. Passman
528 pp.
$35
Simon & Schuster


So kid, ya think ya got some talent and ya wanna break into the music biz? Yer momma and all your Facebook Friends tell you your signing is tops and nobody plunks a piano key or pens musical poetry like you? Sure! Sign right here!

Oh, and by the way, I’m sure you’ve already picked out a personal manager, business manager, lawyer, agent, and PR team, right? And you know the difference between U.S. and foreign royalty configurations? Along with the meanings of phrases and business concepts like a controlled composition clause, deal points, double commissions, net tour take after deductions, advances against royalties, merchandising cuts, song copyright, and group provisions – just in case your bassist quits in a huff. You know all that, right?

click to enlarge SIMON & SCHUSTER BOOK COVER
Simon & Schuster book cover
Chances are…you probably don’t. But fortunately, there’s this book that music attorney and musician Donald S. Passman first introduced in 1991 and has consistently updated since then.

Full of explanations, case studies, advice, and resources, there’s an awful lot of info packed into these pages that any budding (or even veteran) performer should, could, and needs to know in order to help guide their own careers with the maximum benefits. And you better believe that a book could be written five times as long about musicians who did not know when they were doing early in their careers, and got screwed for it.

In his introduction, Passman notes that this is by far the most extensive revision of any previous edition for two reasons in music’s shifting landscape. First, streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and Amazon Music have changed the game entirely about how the public consumes music and the songwriters and performers get paid for it. And did you know that YouTube alone streams more music than all of the other services combined?

The second is the 2018 passage of the Music Modernization Act, a consolidation of three separate U.S. Congressional bills which figures into that streaming consumption and how artists are paid for it.

While this is a dense book that even its author suggests the reader digest in portions, skipping forward and back to sections that relate to them, it is not written in a stuffy textbook style. Passman keeps things snappy, but doesn’t skimp on technical terms or insight.

All You Need to Know About the Music Business has helped many over the years – including pop princess Katy Perry who, according to an enthusiastic cover blurb, first read it at age 13. Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and legendary producer Quincy Jones also sing (so to say…) its praises.

Finally, Passman also discusses fielding angry phone calls from fellow attorneys over the years for giving out information for the cost of a book that they would normally charge hundreds or thousands of dollars to disperse. And that includes knowing the difference between tour, retail, and D2C merchandise once you hit the big time…and need to sell a lot of T-shirts!
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero