What They’ll Never Tell You About The Music Business by Peter M. Thall [Book Reviews]
“The people who make up the heart and soul of the music industry do not usually know a break-even point from a producer point, a royalty from a prince, or a mechanical license from a synchronization license—in short, they don’t know their business”
“Record companies, producers, and music publishers need not be concerned that all of their secrets are now out, nor should attorneys and accountants fear that their jobs will be rendered obsolete by this book. Record company personnel may feel that I have given away too many secrets, and my peers in the legal and accounting professions may feel that I have given away for free what they charge fees for. To them I respond, like a retailer who believes the best customers are educated consumers, that educated artists, producers, personal and business managers, agents, A&R (artists and repertoire) people, attorneys, and accountants will be better served, and will better serve each other, than those who have chosen, or who have been forced, to live in ignorance or, worse, in a daydream.”
I’m not in the music business.
I don’t rap or sing; I’m not a producer or songwriter. I have no aspirations of joining the music business in any capacity (unless podcast episodes can be sold like songs — then I’m all-in). I picked up this book because I made the mental connection between book publishing, which I am in, and the publishing that musicians often discuss, the back-end monies that last longer than a recording career. I figured I could learn some details about how publishing and contracts — two areas we often hear jilted musicians gripe about after learning they’re signed to a bad deal — work and apply those ideas to any publishing I do.
I picked up What They’ll Never Tell You About The Music Business after searching Amazon for “music business;” this book was the highest-rated and had a reputation for being the most in-depth.
It delivered on both fronts.
Author Peter M. Thall, an entertainment lawyer himself, goes into deep detail on seemingly every possible aspect of the music business, from song splits to tour management to digital downloads to how artists make money off their name after death. Being a lawyer, Thall spares no detail in this (on iPhone) four thousand-plus page book.
What They’ll Never Tell You About The Music Business is a literal encyclopedia for any musician, one which I’ll be recommending to anyone who tells me they’re making music to sell. You can jump around in it, picking and choosing the areas of highest interest or immediate need to you. But be careful about what you skip: That could be the exact thing that costs you later.
You Should Read What They’ll Never Tell You About The Music Business IF: You’re a musician of any kind. You are a publisher in any form, even if it’s not music. You handle or sign contracts and want to know exactly what you’re signing (and what you’re not signing at all times.