20 quotes from my favourite music business book

“The $150,000 music degree” is a book written by Rick Barker (one of the music industry’s best marketers and artist developers, having spent two years managing the day-to-day operations of superstar Taylor Swift) and Wade Sutton (spent nearly two decades working as a radio journalist before founding one of the largest artist development competitions in the eastern United States).

This book is VITAL to all singers, musicians, bands, and managers looking to navigate the modern music industry without making many common mistakes that could doom your career before it even gets started.

I chose 20 quotes I liked most because they might be useful for anyone interested in the music business.

  1. “Your level of success will be connected directly to your productivity, decision-making, and luck. Your standard of “working hard” will change forever. It will change whom you want to surround yourself with and will make you think twice about working with many of the people already close to you. You will up your game…or you will fail.”
  2. “If you act like you belong, you belong.” “If you want to be a star one day, act like a star. If you want to be equals with them, act like you are equals with them now.”
  3. “There are four pillars to any successful business. And we have to start looking at the artist as a business.
    1. Brand 2. Build 3. Cultivate 4. Sell”
  4. “The vast majority of income for most bands is brought in by their live shows, yet most of them spend little or no time trying to make those live shows more entertaining for their audiences.”
  5. “Musicians need to understand they are not just musicians. They are also Internet marketers.”
  6. “Take a long term view of collecting e-mails. Don’t expect one hundred e-mails the first night you are collecting them on your website. Getting e-mails is like getting fans: You get them one at a time.”
  7. “If you’ve got the right product and you’re the right artist, a label can absolutely change your life.
  8.  Now, is a record deal for everyone? Absolutely not. Have we heard reports of people who’ve signed bad record deals? Sure.
    Blame your attorney if you sign a bad record deal. Or don’t sign it.
    You’ve got the choice.”
  9. “The record labels have the ability to take somebody from something small to outside the stratosphere. They also have the ability to totally screw things up depending on the record label and depending on the company that you get involved with. A lot of times I find record labels, in my opinion, are signing artists’ way before they’re ready. Then the artist is getting pissed because radio didn’t play them, or this or that, or blah blah blah.”
  10. “Everyone thinks Taylor Swift came out of nowhere. Taylor Swift was building her fans and working on her craft for four years before she ever stepped foot in a radio station.”
  11. “Do you need a major label record deal to have a career in the music business? Absolutely not. Do you need a record label if you want to have world domination in the music industry? In my opinion, I believe so.”
  12. “The deal is you don’t really start making money on your single until it gets into the Top 20. That’s if you happen to own the single because the only people making money on the first radio single are the publishers and the writer of the song. It’s not the record company and it’s not the artist. Radio airplay pays whom? It pays publishers and writers!”
  13. “The hardest part is getting your song heard.”
  14. “I guess what I am trying to say is don’t go to the same places that everyone else is going. It’s crowded there. Try to create your own space.”
  15. “If you are reading this and you’d like to be a manager, work yourself into that role. Find yourself a band that you believe in and say, “Hey, I’d like to help you get better. I would like to help you achieve your dreams. I think I can be a very valuable part of your team,” and work yourself into that situation.”
  16. “All of the iconic superstar artists are also great business people. So I am also going to be looking for someone who understands and treats it like a business.”
  17. “If you are an artist, show me that you are a hard worker. Show me that you are consistently doing the things you need to do to move your career forward. Show me that you put in the initiative. Show me that you are out there busting your hump every day to move your career forward. If you are a manager, what kind of artist should you be looking for? Work ethic, work ethic, honesty, and integrity. That’s just my little bit of advice to you.”
  18. “Many singers and bands not achieving their desired level of success are being held back not by a lack of talent, but rather their lack of commitment to the business side of their act.”
  19. “If you are a brand new artist and you sound really good but you have no following, no online presence, nothing going on, you are not very attractive to them. No matter how great you sound, no matter how good you think your show is, if you don’t have anything to bring to the table, why would the venue book you? And why would the booking agent risk that relationship by putting an act in there that they know can’t sell tickets?”
  20. “Do NOT be afraid to pursue a career in commercial music. Do NOT be intimidated by what you have to learn to be successful. EDUCATE yourself to give yourself the best chance at making it.”

I learned a lot of things from this book and I highly recommend it. If you want to read it, it’s free with Kindle Unlimited.

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