January 03, 2013

Recommended Reading: The Music Industry Doesn't Have to Kill You

"Music has an extremely unique way of impacting each one of us; but the realities of the business that surround it are far from safe, comfortable, or loving. Frankly, it can often be terrible and destructive...The music industry does not have to kill you. Nor does it have to make you generally miserable. This is not a self-help book. Nor is it a how-to guide. It is my first step in spending the rest of my life encouraging people in the music industry to think differently." - John Clore, The Music Industry Doesn't Have To Kill You,Introduction 

The music industry isn't just known for its art and the glitz and glamour of the red carpet, it also has an infamous reputation captured in the well-known phrase (not to mention countless movies) "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" and the similarly popular Hunter S. Thompson misquote "the music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like gods. There's also a negative side." It may be a misquote, but there are reasons it became popular.

That can be pretty discouraging if you're pursuing a music career simply for the love of music and not based on an interest in becoming rich and famous yourself (and if that's actually the case, you might want to reconsider). The good news is it doesn't have to be that way.

The Music Industry Doesn't Have To Kill You: Conversations with Remarkable People from the Music Industry is a compelling series of interviews with established music industry veterans written by John Clore (who is a music industry vet himself). It's filled with both knowledge of how the music industry works and insights on how to maintain your ethics and character while still building a successful career.  But honestly, this is not just about reviewing some book and telling you to buy or even read it, because I don't just write about anything on here. I won't review a book unless I've read it myself and really believe it has something of value to offer, it's not about advertising. John was nice enough to send me a copy of his book to check out and I truly enjoyed reading it. I bookmarked or made a note of something at least once every few pages because this book has that many quote-worthy and thought provoking ideas. The book focuses on the Nashville scene and includes interviews with 23 different music industry people of varying backgrounds including everything from executives to tour managers and people like Jim Foglesong, Brenda Lee, and Alan Parsons. Clore uses these interviews to showcase how these individuals have managed to succeed while giving back to their communities, overcoming addictions, keeping their egos in check, sticking with their morals, and generally just being a decent person. The interviews almost feel like you're in the room listening in, and you'll learn a lot from them, but my favorite parts are actually Clore's own short anecdotes between the interviews. These sections help provide some of the bigger pictures lessons (like one of my favorite sections "You Probably Aren't That Cool") and give the book a very personal feel.

The Music Industry Doesn't Have To Kill You is a great read for anyone who's interested in the music industry, especially students or anyone who might be feeling discouraged, and a great start for the new year. It will help you learn about how the industry works while confronting the stereotypes you've heard and challenging you to change them.