Best Books for Musicians & Music Books

As a guitar player, songwriter, and musician, I’ve learned so much from books form musicians. Music books have taught me how to play my instruments better, how to write and arrange songs, how to mix, and have inspired me to get better at my craft.

These four books are going to be well received by whoever you give them to.

I’d divide the best books for musicians into two categories: books that tell great stories about musicians, and those that teach musicians how to be better.

Both types of books for musicians are important to read, not only because it’s important to invest in yourself, but also because they can provide a lot of extra knowledge and inspiration!

Over my 20+ years of playing music, I’ve read a lot of each. Below are some of my favorite. These books make great Christmas gifts for musicians and also make great birthday presents.

Best Book for Musicians: The Beatles – the Complete Score

The Beatles were simply the best songwriters of the 20th...

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May 2017 stock music licensing earnings report


May 2017 was my best month licensing music. I earned more than $330 on my main licensing site, Pond 5. This is $30 more than my previous high, and I've basically earned more than $300 per month licensing music this entire year. 

I think this success selling music online is due to three main factors:

  1. Optimized pricing
  2. Highly refined keyword tagging strategies
  3. More songs

It's taken me three years to get here, but I feel like my music licensing success is only going to go upward from here. (If you're interested in learning how to license your music I've got a free video telling you how to do it here).

You can tell I had one huge sale for $70+ (thanks pricing) and also the most overall sales I've ever had (thanks keywords and tagging!)

Now I just need to keep doing what I'm doing and keep adding more songs. Onward to June!

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2 Easy Song Licensing Business Models


When it comes to selling stock music (what is stock music?), there are 2 easy song licensing business models that have been successful for countless musicians. The first involves directly pitching your songs to music supervisors. The second, and even easier, way to license your songs involves uploading them directly to websites that serve as the middleman between you and the buyers.

The first method is great for established musicians. But if you're like me (and still learning the ropes), you should start at the second method as you cut your teeth in the music industry.

1st Easy Song Licensing Business Model - Using a Publishing Company

In the first method of song licensing, you develop a network of contacts (or purchase a directory) of music supervisors and publishing companies that are looking for music.

Music supervisors are the end users on projects (let's someone working on a TV show looking for a specific type of song for a scene). 


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Music Licensing: The 3 Types of Rights

If you're interested in music licensing, there are three main types of rights: Mechanical, Synchronization, and Broadcast. There's also a fourth type of right, print rights, but those aren't as common unless you have a big hit.

Now music licensing is super complicated, but I'm hoping to explain it in simple terms. These types of rights are all a little different, and all require different organizations to collect the money for you. Also note, this is not legal advice, just one musician talking to another about the types of rights we're entitled to with our music.

Now, each type of right leads to a corresponding royalty. Basically, as musicians we trade away part of our right, let's say to synchronize our song with a video, in exchange for money and publicity.

So let's dig into the types of rights for music from the perspective of royalties, cause getting paid is always more fun.

The first type of right is to mechanical royalties. This is basically your right to get paid every...

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How to Release an Album Online (Beginner’s Guide)

For years I had no idea how to release an album online, so I let the songs clog up my hard drive. After lots of research (and frustration), I finally put it all together. Here's how.

Note: This article contains affiliate links, which mens that I may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on them. However, that doesn't influence my recommendations.

Many thanks to the incredible Ari Herstand for laying much of this out in his book, How to Make it in the New Music Business (affiliate link). It’s full of brilliant information on all aspects of being a musician these days.

This guide on how to release an album applies a lot of the lessons from that book, as well as my own experiences.

I've tried to make it a practical, FUN case study about how I released my first album for my synthwave project, “Portents.” (you can stream it while reading this very lengthy article - it's great instrumental background music!)


Preparing to publish your...

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September and October 2017 Stock Music Licensing Earnings Reports

Ok, I'm back again with the September and October stock music earnings reports. As I usually say - it was the best of times, it was the worst of times (aka - the industry is inconsistent). 

So in September I smashed through my record high to earn $382 on Pond 5 licensing music. Then the sugar high wore off, and I crashed down to $263.

A drop of more than $100 is kind of shocking. But I've been licensing music long enough to say that it's also totally normal Through most of this year I've been averaging around $320 in sales, and these two months, combined, continue to bear that out. 

The thing I want to say about my music licensing on Pond 5 for most of the second half of this year, though, is that it continues to passive income. I'm earning passive income licensing my music because I haven't been writing and recording new music for Pond 5.

Learn how to start licensing your music today. Click here.

Instead, I've been focused on a couple of really exciting licensing...

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How to Affordably Record Great Rap Vocals

Anyone can learn how to record rap vocals in a home studio with great results.

But don't buy into the hype of needing super expensive gear. If you focus on learning how to record rap vocals, then you can get really nice sounding vocals for cheap, and it does not require crazy skills or a fortune. 

Note: this post includes affiliate links, which means that I receive a commission for purchases you make. However, that does influence what I'm recommending here.

In fact, you can get amazing sounds with your audio interface, a mic around $100, and a couple of plugins applied with care.

Seriously - here's a some clips recorded with that less-than $100 MXL 990 mic. 

Now that sounds pretty damn good for a cheap mic, right? So this guide will teach you how to get that sound. 

In fact, here's how I basically used a cheap ass mic to record an entire hip hop EP which got a publishing deal that earned us a nice chunk of change.

You can record great rap vocals with a cheap...

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How to Sell Stock Music (Start Licensing Your Music Today!)


I recently did a wonderful interview on how to sell stock music with Jesse from Sync My Music. In this 30+ minute video on how to sell stock music, Jesse and I discuss how stock music libraries are different from other types of production music libraries, how anyone can get started selling stock music, and also what I have planned for the future.

Check out this free mini-course to learn how you can license your first song in five days.

Even though Jesse has been making a full-time living licensing his production music through libraries, he is now seriously considering putting his "rejects" on to a site like Pond 5.

The Best Stock Music Site

It's really not that hard to do get started licensing your stock music. I had no idea what I was doing three years ago when I started trying to license my music. Also, I made TONS of mistakes. But I've muddled through with some hard work (the key to success at anything) and a commitment to investing in my growing knowledge.


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How to Get a Record Deal in Hip Hop

A year ago I had no idea how to get a record deal. I was a bedroom producer making a few hundred dollars a month selling stock music. But unbeknownst to me, powerful forces were at work that would lead me to getting a publishing deal. 

Here's how it went down. 

I Wasn't Looking for a Record Deal

To be honest, I was happy just making my music for myself and selling it directly as stock music. But occasionally, a beat that I made would be fire. 

So when that happened, I'd invite my friend Ryn over. Ryn has been a rapper for a long time, and he would come over and spit some lines. It was fun, but we weren't really thinking about how to get a record deal.

It was really just an excuse to drink. And occasionally it would lead to a great track. Over time, it got better. So yea, practice is important. Then Ryn invited his friend Vince over. And Vince is a great rapper to. 

Together, they started making some awesome music. 

Here's the main tip from this story:...

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One of My Worst Songs Made Me $200+ in Licensing Revenue

Would you believe that one of my worst written, worst produced, worst mixed songs - one that uses mainly loops - has generated over $200 and continues to sell?

I'm as shocked as you. 

Update 5/22/18: I just earned $1,800 from this song on back end licensing!!

But it turns out there are at least 3 secret reasons why this song has done so well, which I'll share in a minute. 

First, though, you really ought to take a listen to this little gem.

Originally, I never intended this song for licensing. I was just making a demo song to experiment with mid/side processing. As the song shows, that experiment failed.

However, I accidentally exported the song and uploaded it to some licensing sites with a batch of other files.

When it came time to start tagging the song with keywords and descriptions, I thought, what the hell.

Now, to begin with I recommend writing and recording high quality songs!

The point of this example is just to show that if you know what you're doing when...

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How To Make Money as Musician by Pursuing Your Passion

This 5-day mini course will show you exactly how to launch a music licensing side hustle so that you can finally get paid for your music!