It wasn't my first meeting with a publisher, but it was my biggest meeting at that point. I was 16 at the time, and although I'd had many “good” meetings, I hadn't as yet had any big yeses. The gold records that lined the wall were impressive – especially for a teenager – and I was feeling a little lightheaded about even being in an office so nice. I handed him the cassette, feeling confident about my songs – it was my best writing to date.
The tape screeched as he fast-forwarded to the chorus.
As humans, we often look to others for inspiration and guidance (hence why YouTube hair and makeup tutorials are so popular). The same goes for the indie musician, possibly even more so because there's such a brilliant array of sources from which to glean wisdom, marketing tactics, stage presence ideas, and even songwriting hacks. But one of the most popular, straight-forward, and easily accessible ways is to pick up a book (or download an e-book, whatever).
They're out there somewhere: tastemakers. Talent buyers. Record label CEOs. They probably look like you and me, but they have the ability to hand you an opportunity to step onto a larger stage, taking a huge step forward in your career. If you're lucky, you're only one degree of separation away from someone who show you a path to fame or, at the very least, doing music full time. These opportunities can arrive at absolutely any time, and often in the most unlikely ways. These five stars prove how important it is to be practiced, committed, and prepared for when those opportunities come knocking.
It's important for any musician to understand the industry, but DIY bands and artists hoping to cultivate full-time careers from their creativity will especially benefit from learning its ins and outs. This means understanding its past and educating yourself on the now, as well as keeping a close watch on the future – because, after all, the industry is constantly evolving.
These five books were all published in the last seven years and successfully cover timeless topics with a forward-thinking lens. That's not to say standards like All You Need to Know About the Music Business are obsolete; in fact, that one and several others are regularly updated. Still, these selections feel extra timely, and totally relevant for DIY musicians navigating the industry at this very moment.