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All You Need to Know about the Music Business

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  1,155 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
Universally regarded as the definitive and indispensable guide to the music industry and now in its fifth edition, "All You Need to Know About the Music Business" has undergone its most extensive overhaul to date. Veteran music lawyer Donald Passman sees a major change in the way record labels are doing business in response to today's numerous technological advances and un ...more
Hardcover, Fifth Edition, 464 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by Free Press (first published 1991)
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Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For school. Already had a copy from over ten years ago, but finally updated to the newest edition. Passman is great about including accurate and relevant information as the industry continues to change. Have heard this labeled "the music business bible" time and again, with due reason.
Matt Jasper
Sep 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommend this book to people through my work all the time (Disclaimer: I work in the music business). When I was hired, my boss commanded me to read this book. It really is the definitive starting point for understanding how the music industry works. You can get the overview, or the advanced view, depending on how far you want to dive in. Passman has a good sense of humor, even about subjects that can cause musicians' eyes to start to glaze in many other industry guidebooks. Be on the lookout ...more
Sep 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In my senior year of high school i interned at an entertainment compnay and 1 of my bosses sensed my passion for music and how serious i was about getting into the music field so she gave me this book to hlep me along the road on embarking into the brand new world!!!

Very intuitive!!!
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Was given this as a textbook for a class in school (Business of Music class) and it is a must-read for people going into the industry. Not just because it is greatly informative, but because it makes learning fun.
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was great overview and a must for anyone who wants to work in the industry, or just learn about the business side of it.
Al Medina
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this a looooooong time ago when I aspired to break into the (music) business. It truly is ALL you need to know about the music business. I'm thinking that what I read back then doesn't apply to today's scene but I'm also sure there have been updated versions of this book with additions and revisions. And, considering that I was reminded that I read this by a recent pic that someone had posted to facebook, it would appear that this book (or, at least the updated versions) may still be rele ...more
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music-ref
Finished my preliminary read through for All You Need to Know About the Music Business. This is a book to have on the shelve for future reference. This is a must-have book for anyone interested in the music business as a career.
Thomas O. Seiling
For Anyone Interested in the Music Business

This book was very informative ! Plus, it's written in a very informal style. I totally understand why it's in it's ninth edition. Great book !
Hangi Tavakoli
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the 2017 edition of this book and it was really helpful.
David Melbie
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Musicians
Recommended to David by: Big fan!
This is probably the third time I have read this. I now own a copy and will reference it often.
Vernita Naylor
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Artists, Publishers, Songwriters, etc
Recommended to Vernita by: Ran upon it as I was entering into the business about 13 years ago
All You Need to Know about the Music Business

It takes gut and wisdom to become a part of the music and entertainment industry. It take much more to stay and make a living in it. All You Need To Know About the Music Business is a tool designed to help you to better understand all of the intricate parts that is being played in the industry. It is also a great tool to help you to see (if you do not have an idea) what type of role may interest you from artist, musician, engineer, publisher, promoter
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I took a fast approach to the book, as simply a music enthusiast. (The author recommends his own "Fast Track," as well.) The writing was entertaining enough for its arguably dry information (lots of royalty rates and music business lingo). But I took away some very valuable information about the roles in the traditional music industry and a vague idea of how much everyone gets paid.

This book is truly geared toward an artist or band that is starting out in the industry, but I still found it a dec
Feb 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I had known about this book when it first came out in the 1990's, my life would be dramatically different today. Or maybe not. At least I would not have believed that there was no hope for a normal human being like me to make a living in the music business; at the time I thought they were all either hopelessly skanky and corrupt, or else breathing rarefied air. All or nothing thinking tends to plague lots of people, not just the young.
Now I know that if I apply myself even now, I could publis
Oct 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The 5 star rating is in the context of the book's genre. This is a manual/reference for anyone who wants to understand royalties, licensing, publishing and all the other eccentricities of the music industry. The book covers a lot of ground in enough detail to be useful but not too much as to bore the reader with legalese. It is also written with a dry humor that keeps things moving through some pretty dull topics. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand how to structure music deal ...more
Sep 11, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone involved / interested in the music business
I bought this book because I wanted to know about record deals, music publishing, royalties, copyright etc.

Passman's writing style (which is at times humorous) and the way he treats each topic makes this book an easy and interesting read. He also includes diagrams of industry structure and examples of how royalties are worked out.

I've read this title once and find it to be a great source for reference.
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an important primer if you're a working musician who wants to understand the industry you're in. Yes, the examples are pretty hokey, but important to understand. It's well worth reading also if you work with musicians or are at all interested in knowing how the music business pies are divided up.

Full disclosure: I didn't actually finish reading this version because I've read THREE previous editions and just couldn't take any more talk of puppies and lemonade stands.
May 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has really heped me learn the ins-and-outs of praciticng Entertainment Law. I liked how Passman discussed how the Entertainment industry operates and what roles the different parties play in the industry (i.e. agent, manager, accountant, lawyer). Furthermore, his analysis of the contract provisions that are common in Entertainment Law was incredibly easy to understand and helpful in my pracitice.
Brad Branham
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A necessary book for anyone (musician, producer, or even just fans) who wants to understand the modern music business.

It isn't *exciting* reading but it is informative and I really like that the author has kept up and released updated versions as business radically shifts through paradigms.

I used it as one of my research tools for the writing of my fiction series about a rock band, "It Really IS Rocket Science".
Garrett Cash
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the definitive book on the subject for a reason. An absolutely essential reference point for an artist who wants to remain astute in the pack of wolves. Passman is entertaining and loud out loud funny quite frequently for such a draining subject. Frankly, I was surprised at how much I already knew, and I'm not even in the music business. It's not as complicated as it seems. Keep this book for reference, get a good team, and go from there.
Matthew Pierleoni
May 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
As big of a book as this is, with it's fair share of complex topics and tricky mathematics, Passman's style of writing is approachable and far from dry. Even if you're not looking to get into the music business but just curious about how it operates, this is the book you want. Although, due to the ever-changing nature of the music industry, only go for the newest edition available, which Passman puts out every few years.
Jay Cruz
Aug 16, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, music
Since the music industry has collapsed, or starting over and reinventing itself, it all depends on how you look at it... the irrelevancy of this book is not even funny. Specially this edition. I mean, it mentions A&R people. There's definitely good advice in it, copyright issues and what nots, but it's mostly founded on how the traditional music biz has worked. You can safely stay away from this one.
Ian Whalen
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I forget which edition I read, but I believe it was an old edition because I remember him discussing the 'revolutionary' idea of sending music to people through their cable boxes some day. I still consider this pretty much required reading if you're going into the music industry so that you're maximally conversant in the language of royalties, mechanicals, etc.
Alex Gordon
pretty much the basics of my music business class in one book... But you will need a whole lot more info... I've read a ton of music business books and the best ones for me were ones written by folks who did at least one of these things: touring/writing/recording/producing/mixing/engineering/performing/booking/etc... with real stories of their own.
Mar 22, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely geared toward the artist who is shopping record deals, but also a helpful book for someone just getting started who wants an overview of how the business works. This can also be helpful for someone interested in a career on the business side. Too much discussion of royalty computations, but it's written by an entertainment lawyer, so I guess it's expected.
John Burns
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young bands who are being approached by slimy A&R guys
Shelves: non-fiction
Seems to do a good job of clarifying the world of the music business (mainly the legal side of things) which is all very complicated but seems to sort of make sense when you study it. The ultimate test is how helpful it is to professional musicians who have to deal with the situations detailed in the book. I cannot personally vouch for it in this regard.
Rushay Booysen
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read i was given a signed copy as a gift and i was very skeptical but as i started reading this book it got more and more interesting.You never to old to learn.I would suggest a copy for any serious artist.This book copies basically every aspect of the music business and the author updated it to include the new digital platforms
Mr. Jones
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys pain
Shelves: top-shelf
It made me think twice about getting into the business. Now i know what I'm getting into if i decide to continue down this road. Now i can only get robbed with my eyes open. Now i don't make such rookie decisions in music, life dealings.
Garrick Jannene
Sep 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're in the music business or would ever like to be, this book is your new bible.

If not, it'll bore you to tears. But maybe you should give it a quick skim to see what we have to put up with. ;)
Charles Yan
Jan 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really really jam packed and dense full of information. Needs a few rereads if you aren't familiar with the topic and lingo like me. He does a good job at trying to explain everything in layman's terms, but a lot of the concepts still flew over my head
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