By Alyssa Minnec & Adam Freedman
These days, musicians/artists/producers really have so much access to information about the music business that generations before them did not. People have now written books and created newsletters doing deep dives on the subject. A-Level artists and executives have written books detailing their experiences in the industry, while even more are dropping gems on social media.
However, with so much information at their disposal, there’s no reason for artists and producers to make the same mistakes as their predecessors. Nevertheless, we keep hearing the same issues again and again.
Therefore, we wanted to put together a guide with some of what we consider to be the best resources for learning about/staying up to date with the music industry, including newsletters, websites, podcasts, books, and organizations. These are the same sources that we follow and use ourselves, and we highly recommend that all artists/musicians/producers/etc do the same, so they can be empowered to deal with the changing industry landscape, as well as the day-to-day nonsense we’re all too familiar with.
1. Motive Unknown — Link
Motive Unknown is sent out three times a week, providing articles and analysis about the latest “need to know” news in the music, tech, and app spaces. Motive Unknown is great because it provides articles about a wide range of topics yet it always goes beyond the surface level.
2. Ari’s Take — Link
One of the best in the game, Ari’s Take is a music business education and artist advocacy company and newsletter focusing on empowering musicians to have successful careers in the “new” music business and industry. If you’re new to the industry, we recommend diving into all of Ari’s work. He’s able to break down complex concepts into simple, easy-to-understand language.
3. Trapital — Link
Trapital is a weekly newsletter that provides the latest trends and insights into the hip-hop industry, as well as giving access to deep-dive essays featuring knowledge to improve your career and business. Some examples of the type of insights Trapital hits on are “How The Weeknd Mastered his Brand,” “Beyonce’s Streaming Strategy,” how popular rappers became multi-millionaires, and more. If you’re looking to break into the hip-hop scene, this is the newsletter for you.
4. Music x Technology — Link
Written by strategists with backgrounds in music startups, Music x Technology provides insights about the future of music, media & tech on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This newsletter is all about strategy, the metaverse, industry predictions, and community. One of their most viral pieces is all about the important lessons for music startup founders. If you’re looking to start a business in the music industry, check out this newsletter.
WEBSITES AND NEWS
1. Music Business Worldwide — Link
Like the name suggests, Music Business Worldwide provides news all around the world, and even organizes the stories by country. Easy to navigate, the website is organized by news, interviews, analysis pieces, has a podcast, and posts the latest jobs in the music industry worldwide. The website features a fun interview series called the “World’s Greatest,” where they showcase interviews with inspiring women, managers, producers, songwriters, and leaders.
2. Water & Music — Link
The goal of Water & Music is to empower music-industry professionals with the knowledge, network and skills to do collaborative and progressive work with technology. Created by Cherie Hu, one of the smartest women we know in the music and technology space, Water & Music helps you to learn how to make efficient business deals, keep track of music trends, market and promote your brand, and stay up to date on need-to-know information in the industry, giving you the ability to create valuable conversations and engagements.
3. Billboard Biz — Link
Billboard Biz provides insights, deep dives, and charts surrounding finance, music and the music industry (by genre), Web3, record labels, trending topics, culture and more. At Billboard Biz, you can track the latest charts: Hot 100, Billboard 200, Global 200, new trending songs, year-end charts, etc.
1. The New Music Business with Ari Herstand — Link
Ari Herstand is the best-selling author of “How To Make It in the New Music Business.” In this show, he steps away from the fundamentals and dives into the “day-to-day” of the music industry. Ari interviews and deconstructs future-thinking minds to find new tools, tactics, and strategies that listeners can use to learn, embody, and run successful careers of their own. Some examples of topics that Ari brings to light are the significance of TikTok in the music industry compared to utilizing other social media platforms, effective approaches as a manager or talent buyer, the ideal “artist pitch,” and more. What you won’t find in a textbook, you’ll learn on this podcast.
2. Producergrind — Link
Producergrind is one of the most popular interview-based podcasts specifically for hip-hop producers. They speak with legends like Zaytoven, Sonny Digital, Jetsonmade, Pyrex Whippa, Ant Chamberlain, popular music engineers, and more. This podcast helps listeners learn the ins and outs of the music business from a producer’s perspective. If you’re an aspiring producer or one that likes to make sure they’re always learning, we highly recommend this podcast. Some recent interviews included tips such as “why you struggle to sell beats,” “how to stand out from the competition,” getting more placements, and how to talk to people in the music industry.
3. The Music Business Podcast — Link
This one is for our music business professionals. Every Thursday The Music Business podcast brings listeners insights and trends from various well-known managers, label executives, lawyers, agents, etc. This podcast features a wide variety of professional perspectives, as the topics range from discussing major labels, running marketing campaigns, discovering new talent, growing your career as a songwriter, and more.
4. DIY Musician Podcast — Link
The DIY Musician Podcast is all about promoting and marketing your brand. It features interviews with promoters, publishers, booking agents, and artists of all styles and backgrounds. Their goal is to educate and encourage artists to be their best while building a strong community. If you want to learn a little bit more about the “behind the scenes” of music business as a whole and how it relates to branding yourself, check out this podcast. Some of the latest topics cover “the post-pandemic plan for musicians,” “NFTs for musicians,” mechanical royalties, and artist endorsements.
1. How To Make It in the New Music Business by Ari Herstand — Link
Widely adopted by music schools everywhere and considered “the best how-to book of its kind,” it inspired thousands to stop waiting around for that “big break.” Now trusted as the leading expert for “do it yourself” artists, Ari Herstand has released a second edition, diving into conquering social media, mastering the art of merchandising, embracing authentic fan connection, and offering inspiring success stories across media such as Spotify and Instagram.
2. All You Need to Know About the Music Business: 10th Edition by Donald Passman — Link
Passman’s comprehensive guide offers timely, authoritative information on topics such as how to select and hire a winning team of advisors and structure their commissions and fees; navigate the ins and outs of record deals, songwriting, publishing, and copyrights; maximize concert, touring, and merchandising deals; and how the “game” is played in a streaming world.
3. How to Build a Sustainable Music Career & Collect All Revenue Streams by Emily White — Link
As an entrepreneur, manager, and consultant, Emily White has navigated countless new platforms for musicians and presents the findings in a methodical and step-by-step manner. This book shows musicians how to build a career from day one, as well as how to get your career organized moving forward if you already have some industry experience.
4. The 11 Contracts That Every Artist, Songwriter, and Producer Should Know by Steve Gordon — Link
“The 11 Contracts” is an in-depth guide intended to assist any aspirant wary of navigating the music business or struggling to interpret its language and jargon. This no-nonsense book follows a simple format: Steve Gordon presents a sample agreement, then breaks down the nuances of both the legal and business sides of the arrangement.
1. Women in Music — Link
Established in 1985, Women in Music is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization committed to advancing equality, visibility and opportunities for women in the musical arts through education, support, empowerment and recognition. A diverse global community, WIM encompasses chapters around the world.
2. Music Entrepreneur Club (MEC) — Link
The Music Entreprenuer Club (MEC) is now powered by Beatstars! The MEC provides free, live, weekly sessions with music industry professionals and provides the opportunity for private consultations. The MEC’s goal is to provide an interactive platform where viewers can ask questions with the speakers, share industry stories, and trust that they’re receiving real, helpful information and tutorials to excel in the music space. MEC also has a podcast, with new episodes dropping every Monday.
3. Musicares — Link
Founded by the Recording Academy in 1989 as a U.S. based, independent 501(c)(3) charity, MusiCares safeguards the well-being of all music people through direct financial grant programs, networks of support resources, and tailored crisis relief efforts. Offering preventive, emergency, and recovery programs, MusiCares is a safety net supporting the health and welfare of the music community. For example, Musicares provided a fund for artists and musicians during COVID 19, to help them stay afloat while live shows came to a halt. The organization hosts weekly meet ups around the country to provide a safe, fun space for various groups in music such as the LGBTQ and black music communities.
4. Diversify the Stage — Link
Diversify the Stage is a network of industry professionals working to establish more inclusive hiring practices and greater access to opportunities in live music, events, and touring industries for historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. Their goal is to help evolve current industry practices by encouraging practical actions towards accountability, introducing new methods of recruitment, and providing education for next-generation workforces.