I'm constantly coming across old features (most I've long since forgotten) that I wrote for print publications many years ago. This review was published originally in 2003. And although the music biz has changed drastically in the wake of the digital explosion, much of Borg's information remains relevant and his book warrants a re-visit.
THE MUSICIAN'S HANDBOOK:
A Practical Guide to Understanding the Music Business
Bobby Borg / Billboard Books
This insightful book opens with an equally insightful quote from Hunter S. Thompson — 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 dogs. There's also a negative side.
I wish that I'd had this book back in my younger days when I would spend every night hanging out with my fellow bandmates and other rocker dudes in our porno-filled rehearsal spaces, trying to convince each other of how much we knew about the biz. But after years of misguided hard work and dedication, I've learned in under three hundred pages, just how clueless we all were.
If you're a young musician just starting out, this book is a must-read. If you're now, oh say, forty-something and you've already sacrificed EVERYTHING in life since you were fifteen to be a rock star and you want to see all of the areas in which you blew it over the years, this is a must-read for you too!
From the beginning, author Bobby Borg explains the importance of educating yourself about the music business, setting realistic goals and getting EVERYTHING in writing. Band agreements, copyrights, royalties, agents, lawyers, managers, sponsors, touring and merchandising are just a few areas covered in The Musician's Handbook.
Before reading this book I couldn't even spell Synchronization Fee, let alone what it meant. And if the subject of Cross Collateralization doesn't scare the heck out of you and send you running to the local pawn shop to unload your gear, then I don't know what will.
A Berkley graduate, Borg has toured the world drumming for several major bands and is a frequent columnist for various music publications. But even with his extensive and impressive credentials, many of his points are backed up and confirmed throughout the book by other well-known industry big wigs.
Yes, The Musician's Handbook offers a fascinating look at the very frustrating and often scary machine called the music business. In sum, once I picked it up, I had a hard time putting down. I only wish that it had been released twenty years earlier.
Author/musician, Bobby Borg
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