SWIMMING WITH SHARKS:
This book is, first and foremost, a guide to the "Business" side of rock and roll - the bits about getting gigs, working out which contracts are likely to leave you destitute, spotting scams, promoting yourself, making a demo which people bother to listen to, and so on and so forth. It also contains a hefty whack of "Don't be a dick" advice - which as well as being good business sense (no one wants to work with a total asshole - especially if you're at the stage where you need a guide to getting big). It's not a foolproof guide to getting a major label contract; the writers don't even think that's particularly important. Instead, it offers advice on the things it'd be a good idea to do whether you want to get super-massive or just earn enough to call yourself a professional musician without utilising too much romantic license.
This is a very nuts-and-bolts guide, and it assumes that you're prepared to put the work in, to be nice and professional towards people rather than assume they'll fall at your feet because you're so evidently the Next Big Thing. It's not a "Wow! Rock'n'roll! This way to drugs and orgies!" affair. It's very much a beginners guide, hoping to alert the innocent to ways in which people will try and burn them before they learn by actually getting burned.
While I didn't dig the "finding and choosing your band members" advice - surely, beyond the "make sure you trust and like them because otherwise you'll fall out like Chernobyl" bit, this is too personal a thing to apply universally - the legal advice is very useful. Especially the bit saying "Never sign a contract with the words 'in perpetuity' in it." Older, more cynical musicians may already know a lot of this through experience or cautionary tale, but those who're newer to the cut throat world of well, of life, may well learn a lot from reading this and could well avoid getting royally fucked. It is worth pointing out that this is an American book, based on American law - much of the legal side of it may not apply exactly to the UK, although all the scams mentioned are definitely, depressingly transatlantic.
And whether you get it from this source or from elsewhere, this book
contains a lot of stuff that bands who aspire to make it big - to "swim
with the sharks" in the music industry - ought to know. And even
if it doesn't quite tell it perfectly - some of the anecdotes are a
bit bitchy, and some of them ramble like drunkards - it's nonetheless
good that this is out there. I've always been, and always will be, extremely
dubious about the idea of learning rock'n'roll from books. But when
it comes to stuff like realising when your manager's screwing you over,
what a dodgy contract looks like or when an agency is just out for your
cash (and possibly your creative soul), then frankly the more chances
people have to be shocked into developing the necessary caution, the
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