It's summer, which means that if you're a student, you might be twiddling your thumbs wondering what to do with all the idle time you now have on your hands, and even if you've long since graduated, there's nothing like enjoying a good book!
If you're worried that time spent reading should be spent perfecting your home studio or getting more active on your band’s social media pages, we've got you covered. These six books were written precisely for you, the indie musician who's learning the ropes as you go. While experience may be the best teacher, learning from those who have spent years songwriting, recording, and networking will keep you on the right path and help you avoid costly mistakes. The following books cover a wide range of topics, from promotion to music law to mixing – everything the DIY musician needs to learn about if they want to navigate the brutal world that is the music industry.
Tell us what you're reading this summer in the comments below!
1. Get More Fans: The DIY Guide to the New Music Business by Jesse Cannon and Todd Thomas
Calling this a comprehensive guide is an understatement. Get More Fans, now in its highly relevant 2015 edition, was written for the up-and-coming musician struggling to figure out the best way to build a fanbase. It covers everything from promoting music on a tight budget to turning casual listeners into diehard fans. If your social media could use an overhaul, Cannon and Thomas have the answers after working with noteworthy acts like Misfits and Animal Collective. This book goes to show that you don’t need to be on a major label to attract fans – you just need to be willing to put in the effort.
2. Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio by Mike Senior
Just because you're on a budget doesn’t mean you can't put out high-quality mixes. In Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio, Mike Senior pulls tips and tricks from the engineers working with multi-platinum artists, revealing that the "magic" behind superior mixing is achievable even in your own bedroom studio. Senior teaches you how to stretch your dollar when it comes to equipment, and you'll learn every type of mix processing, from the simple to the complex. Senior also debunks pervasive myths like "you need high-end gear to create commercial-grade mixes." This is a must-read for anyone mixing and recording their own music.
3. The Recording Engineer’s Handbook by Bobby Owsinski
The Recording Engineer’s Handbook is another one for those of you who are looking to gain a competitive edge when it comes to recording, or just need a crash course before getting hopelessly lost. The book is divided into two different parts. The first takes you through the basics of recording vocals, drums, and other instruments. You'll also learn techniques on recording basic tracks, overdubs, and more. The second part contains invaluable interviews with 13 of the world’s leading music engineers and recording professionals. Taking the opportunity to learn from industry vets is something you shouldn't pass up, because they've gone through hell and back to craft the masterful mixes we know and love today.
4. Music Marketing for the DIY Musician: Creating and Executing a Plan of Attack on a Low Budget by Bobby Borg
As a contributor for the Sonicbids blog, Bobby Borg has given out a wealth of music marketing knowledge, much of which is inspired by the content of this book. With Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, Borg dives into deep detail with his budget-friendly "plan of attack" for the indie musician who desperately desires for his music to be heard and appreciated. In this day and age, you need to be a businessman just as much as you are a musician, and becoming business savvy isn't selling out - it's leveraging your talent, and it's necessary. Filled with templates and step-by-step instructions, this book will help guide you through music marketing and show you that you don’t need a massive team of managers to do it.
5. Music Law: How to Run Your Band's Business by Richard Stim
No one wants to trudge through all the rules and regulations of the music world, but it's necessary to protect your music and to make sure you’re playing by the rules. Richard Stim's Music Law: How to Run Your Band's Business will ensure that you're doing everything by the book and don't run into any trouble later by accidentally giving your copyright away. The book provides practical information on legal topics from understanding record contracts, to finding the right manager, to selling your music. With information presented in simple English, you'll avoid misunderstanding copyright laws, and you'll be totally prepared the next time (or first time!) you walk into a meeting room with a record company.
6. Six-Figure Musician: How to Sell More Music, Get More People to Your Shows, and Make More Money in the Music Business by David Hooper
For some of you, being a musician is already your full-time job, and if you're not there yet, that might be your ultimate goal. As such, there's no getting around it: your music needs to make you money. David Hooper's Six-Figure Musician is about transforming your hobby into a means of sustaining your livelihood with. With an emphasis on maintaining creativity and artistic integrity throughout everything, Hooper explains how to get the monetary results you want to see through fan engagement, working your merchandise table the right way, and even leveraging piracy to your advantage. If financial stability has ever been a worry, this book is a must for gaining the security you desire.
Katarina Underwood is an editorial intern for Sonicbids.