The music business, the life of celebrities in the music industry – the reality of it all is explored in depth in music business books.

We like some good gossip, new relationship, divorces, and a bit of drama, but we also closely follow our idol’s personal lives.

However, we all know that they’re usually different in real life. Sure, it’s one thing to promote a certain image and a completely different thing to be 100% natural.

You might have read about such celebs before. Their music is perfect, you love it. But then, you find out they’re terrible people treating their workers like slaves. You might have read about their expectations and demands when going on holiday or staying in various hotels too.

Some of them have the weirdest preferences. Others are too nice and shy. Everyone’s different, no doubt about it.

But if there’s one thing we can all learn from this, that’s the fact that real life is different from what we’re shown.

With these ideas in mind, here are a bunch of music industry books, the types of books that will give you some insights into what's going on behind the scenes. Let’s go!

What Are The Top Music Business Books?


Protective Perspective, by Todd Fox (2022)

Sometimes, the music industry is defined by music. When it comes to books, it’s defined by words. But then, there are times when the music industry is better explained without any words at all… Nothing but pictures.

Sure, pictures can be misleading at times, but I guess they often tell a lot about what’s going on behind the scenes. And Todd Fox does a pretty good job at it.

The book brings in a wide variety of pictures related to a global music tour from 2022. I know what you’re thinking, artistic pictures of various celebrities while jumping and smashing it on stage, but you’re wrong. The book offers a deeper insight into what it takes to prepare such an event.

All the conceptual pictures relate to the daily operations required to ensure the global music tour was a success. It’s a deep visual perspective of people working behind celebrities, what happens away from the public, and what it takes to tour with high profile celebs.

It's not much to read, and you can easily go through the whole book in one setting. But then, trust me, you'll be captivated by the feeling of being a celebrity behind the scenes and experiencing the intense lifestyle of a musician.

This is the type of book you keep around and open every now and then.

All You Need to Know About the Music Business, by Donald S. Passman (2019)

I'm not sure who this book is for, but I think it's for everyone with a passion for the music industry. It comes from a world renowned music lawyer, and it's often referred to as the music bible. To me, it's just one of the most detailed music business books on the market.

The book has been through a few editions with numerous updates overtime, so I recommend the latest one.

It goes through a series of events, more or less obvious, that redefined the music industry. From trends and genre updates to specific events, this book has everything.

For instance, here’s something you never thought about before and something that blew my mind.

These days, music is no longer valued by how many people buy a release. Instead, it’s monetized by how many people stream a song. It’s a completely different concept that changes everything in the industry.

All sorts of such trends are explained, as well as their impact, from audio sharing applications and iPods to the Internet and streaming services.

Whether you have a passion for music or you want to be in the industry, this book is a must.

Music: The Business, by Ann Harrison (2017)

Revised every now and then with more up to date info, Ann Harrison’s masterpiece is more like a guide. If you’re into music industry, this is a must.

I found lots of useful information, but I have to warn you, it’s mostly aimed at the British music industry.

However, if you’re into music or you want to find out more about the industry, I believe everyone has something to learn from it.

Based on her experience as a media lawyer, the author discusses some of the most prolific and controversial contracts in the music industry, different deals, and the whole industry.

Everyone can see the music industry is changing on a regular basis, and the most recent change is deeply analyzed with expert opinions.

The latest version of the book includes the most common types of deals in the music industry today and a guide about everything in the industry, from publishing deals and distribution of music to band arrangements and touring.

Moreover, you’ll get some case studies and an in-depth look into how the recent pandemic has affected the industry.

How Music Got Free, by Stephen Richard Witt (2016)

This is one of the most realistic music business books and a story of crime, deceit, and greed, three issues that have always affected the industry.

Anyway, this book runs around a concept that actually makes sense. We’ve all downloaded our favorite music before. We knew it was illegal, but we did it anyway. What happens when the whole generations commit the same crime? Can you put everyone in jail? No. You adapt instead.

This book goes in all directions. It’s about the most powerful executives in the music industry, artist management moguls, the biggest pirates of all times, and unique visionaries. It's also about an illegal website that was massive, bigger than pretty much any other music portal available today.

I loved the secrets in this book. It’s great, whether or not you’re into the music industry. It's about German professionals who invented the MP3, music studio workers who leaked thousands of albums, and a moment in the music history when everything changed, but I'll let you discover it yourself.

These days, music is digital. These days, music can be found everywhere, and you don't even need to actually buy it. What a massive change we've been through, but without actually paying attention…

Artist Management for the Music Business, by Paul Allen (2022)

I’m not sure how to describe this book. Some would say it’s a professional guide regarding artist management and what the industry involves.

I'm not a music manager and not interested in becoming one either, but I love a proper insight into the industry. To me, this is one of the most detailed music industry books on what it takes to swim in a sea of sharks.

The author gets you ready for the harsh realities of being a successful music manager. It’s a high risk industry, indeed. There are thousands of aspirants, but only a few make it. But then, those who make it are about to face incredible rewards.

The book offers some insights into some of the industry's most prolific managers, templates for career plans, and even a directory of management directories.

From a more professional point of view, it also offers exclusive details on how to prepare for such a career. It's about coaching, leading, and organization. It's also about finances, marketing, and advertising.

Bottom line, it’s a must for pretty much everyone involved with the music industry, as well as anyone who’d like to find out more about it.

This Business of Music, by M. William Krasilovsky, John M. Gross, and Sidney Schemel (2007)

The latest edition of this book is up to date with the latest legal aspects of the music industry. I'm not talking about boring stuff like payrolls or agreements but about digital music.

It’s given as a guide to the new music industry. Sure, it’s helpful if you’re part of the industry. But for the average reader, this is one of those music business books discussing financial and economic aspects of the music industry with plenty of insights.

Now, here comes the fun part that affects pretty much everyone in this book… The MP3 part.

We’ve all downloaded MP3s, and we've all known that it wasn't legal. The book discusses some of the legal implications associated with such download and describes international efforts to prevent such things from happening.

To be honest, I don’t think the MP3 will ever go away.

Then, you'll learn more about Napster and how this whole world of piracy started, its death, and how it managed to get back to life. Believe it or not, Napster is still around today.

Music Money and Success, by Jeffrey Brabec and Todd Brabec (2018)

Those interested in joining the music industry will find tons of useful info in this book. This is an insider's guide on how to actually make money in this industry.

I’m not part of the industry itself, but the insider part drew my attention straight away. I love some good insights in the music industry, and I like to see how things go around, as I've got so many questions.

Although it’s described as a money making guide, I see more in this book. There are deep insights into contracts, decisions that affected the industry overtime, and a plethora of opportunities, many of them missed.

Every wheel in the industry is described in small details. Whether you want to join this field or you’re just curious, you’ll find out how everything works, from artist management and video games to television and record sales.

Piracy, downloads, streams, and advertising are also discussed in the book, and to be honest with you, these are some of the most exciting parts.

Then, you'll learn more about Broadway, the new way to create media, impressive contracts, licenses, the music industry in different countries, and even toys and interactive dolls associated with the music industry.

Exactly! You can make money in countless ways if somehow you manage to build your way up, but at the same time, this is also one of those music industry books that reveal numerous secrets.

You’ll learn more about the types of things you don’t really see in the media. These are the things kept private between managers and advertisers, the types of things that would definitely rock the industry.

Three Chords and the Truth, by Lawrence Leamer (1997)

Three Chords and the Truth is a music business book about the country genre.

You don’t have to be a big fan to read it though, as it offers lots of insights into different aspects of the business.

Now, let me make a brief intro… Every June, the world’s biggest country musicians attend the Tennessee State Fairgrounds festivals. It’s a whole week of fun with different performances and concerts, but stars also gather around and sign autographs for fans.

It’s a fun week for every country music fan.

1996 was a great year for the festival and brought together some of the biggest names in the industry. But for Nashville, it was more than just a festival. It was a dramatic change filled with uncertainty.

From many points of view, that week was like a country song. It had both happiness and disappointment, both laughter and sadness.

The author gained access to everything going on behind the scenes. Not only will you get to find out more about what happened that year, but you'll also learn more about the private lives of Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, and so on.

From new hits and top selling records to fans tearing up pictures and Shania Twain interacting with her disabled fans, there’s a bit of everything.

Stars like LeAnn Rimes, James Bonamy, and Mindy McCready are also featured in the book. It almost feels like you've been there…

Final words

These music industry books go in a wide variety of directions, but they have a bit of everything.

Whether you’re part of the industry or you’re curious to know what’s going on behind the scenes, the above mentioned titles will definitely satisfy your curiosities.

Pictures, insights, secrets, things that everyone thought they were forgotten… It makes no difference if you’re a fan or not, you’ll find lots of useful ideas and up to date information.​

If you like stories related to musicians and bands check our music related fiction books.