5 Books Every Entrepreneurial Musician Should Read

September 29, 2017

Next to music, reading and books have been a great passion of mine, and I've been a serious reader my whole life. They provided a huge escape for me while I was growing up. My favorite writers are Haruki Murakami, Junot Diaz, Banana Yoshimoto, Julia Alvarez, Wally Lamb, and Margaret Atwood. Stories and books have the ability to expand our humanity and raise our consciousness. I also read a ton of business and music business books, and I've listed below some of my favorites (not in any order). 


1. Beyond Talent: Creating a Successful Career in Music by Angela Beeching


This is the ultimate guide, almost like a reference book, for all musicians. I still go through it all the time to check certain things, such as how to format a CV, a list of tax-deductible expenses, etc. I also really like how Angela incorporates real stories and examples to illustrate her points on ways musicians can create their own opportunities through having an entrepreneurial mindset. Many musicians balk at investing in themselves (even though they probably paid an arm and a leg to go to conservatory) but did you know Claire Chase, founder of ICE and MacArthur Fellow started with a budget of $600 from her holiday catering job tips? 


2. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is my go-to guru on business and marketing. Some other books of his I love are Tribes and Purple Cow. Linchpin talks about how you can create value in your work and business, thus becoming indispensable and sought-after in your organization and/or industry. I try to apply his principles on emotional labor and being generous.


3. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

I've given this book to friends as gifts multiple times. It has a wonky title but the book outlines extremely effective communication techniques. The ability to communicate effectively is key in getting what we want whether it's for a job interview, request for a raise or promotion, negotiating fees, or asking a presenter to book you. One major takeaway I got from this book  is to always frame asks in the other person's self-interest. 


4. Emerge Already! The Ultimate Guide to Career Building for Emerging Artists by Jade Simmons

This reminds me of almost like a tell-all by a seasoned industry veteran. It kind of is. Jade gives the inside scoop of the classical music business whilst giving very practical advice and addressing common pitfalls. 


5. The Savvy Musician: Building a Career, Earning a Living & Making a Difference by David Cutler


This is also full of solid advice with a ton of real-life examples and a treasure trove of ideas, I often use this as a reference book as well. Cutler has a very good section on money matters. 



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Photo credit: Shervin Lainez.