Wednesday, July 23, 2008

All You Need to Know about the Music Business

Sixth Edition
by Donald S. Passman, Esq.
Free Press
Hardcover, $30.00
462 pages, Illustrated
ISBN: 0-7432-9318-5

Book Review by Kam Williams

“In the music business, the key to success lies in knowing how to protect yourself. To do that, you need the best and most up-to-date advice available… This latest edition of what the L.A. Times called ‘the industry bible’ will lead novices and experts alike through the fundamental practices as well as the new, uncharted territory of one of this country’s most dynamic industries…
For fifteen years, All You Need to Know about the Music Business
has been universally regarded as the definitive, essential guide to the music industry. Now in its sixth edition, it has been completely revised and updated with crucial, up-to-the-minute information on the industry’s major changes in response to today’s rapid technological advances and uncertain economy…
It’s a book that no musician, entertainment lawyer, agent, promoter, publisher, manager, record company executive – anyone who makes their living from music – can afford to be without.”
-- Excerpted from book jacket cover

Although I no longer practice law, there are two types of people who still routinely approach me for legal advice: convicts behind bars and aspiring musicians. Unfortunately, I’m simply too busy to take on any clients, however, I do have good news for the latter group, a state-of-the-art handbook which breaks down every aspect of the business in relatively-plain language.
Author Donald Passman is a Harvard-trained attorney with over 30 years of experience in the field. His impressive client roster includes such A-list acts as Janet Jackson, Green Day and R.E.M., to name a few. His user-friendly, how-to tome is apt to be of most use to up-and-coming unknowns trying to kickstart their careers, a time when naïve performers are most likely to be exploited and make critical mistakes out of an eagerness for fame and fortune.
Passman addresses virtually every question you can think of, structuring his invaluable advice in the logical order in which it will be needed by the neophyte. He suggests that you start your assault on the industry by assembling a team of advisors which ought to include a personal manager, a lawyer, a business manager and an agent.
The next section breaks down every aspect of a record deal, from advances to royalties to albums to videos to marketing to touring to merchandising. Next, he focuses on an often overlooked area, intellectual property, which is comprised of copyrighting, publishing and songwriting. And the text subsequently answers an array of ancillary inquiries about creative control, bootlegging, fees and financing.
If you know anyone dreaming of making it in the music world, I implore you to insist that they read this priceless treatise from cover to cover before they even think about entering into any agreements.

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