Book Review

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How Not To Destroy Your Career In Music is a non-fiction book written by author Bruce Haring, a independent DIY musician who has had years of experience as a musician in the current music industry. In his book, Haring argues that many musicians succumb to the common pitfalls of mistakes that occur in the music industry. Many of these mistakes can be easily prevented by being prudent in respects to marketing your music, touring and booking in different areas, making the choice to be funded by a label or to be independent of a label, planning your expenses, and management. Despite the fact that the current music industry from the 1980s and onwards are manipulated by six colossal record label giants, many musicians have been able to achieve success by making choices for themselves rather than having a major label take the majority of the musicians’ money in exchange for doing promotion, distribution, management, and general funding for the musicians.

Haring notes that musicians must be wary in dealing with major labels because he believes that many major labels take advantage of the artists due to the intricately worded legal contracts major labels offer many inexperienced artists. Major labels exploit the artist of the sales of their product in exchange for services such as mass promotion, recording, and tour funding. Depending on a musician’s sales, many times this can potentially bankrupt a musician, or leave the musician without gaining substantial profit. However, various genres of music in the 1980’s have given rise to the practice independent labels and also DIY musicians themselves. Alternative rock, punk, hardcore, metal, and other underground specific genre categorizations have found ways to target their audience when mainstream music listeners would not listen to them. The rise of the internet and social media has helped these underground genres achieve recognition by prudent promotion today, and has helped connect underground bands to a devoted fanbase. Haring argues that promotion, merchandise and ticket sales, image, selective marketing, touring, sponsorships, music media exposure, and shrewd decision making are all factors that affect the relative success of a musician in the music industry.

How Not To Destroy Your Career In Music by Bruce Haring is coherent for many parts but contains some logical fallacies and assumptions that can affect points that Haring argues for in his book. In one example, Haring makes a fallacy of false cause. In this example, Haring states,

“I think the reason that there have been more pop stars on the charts that came from art school than came from music school is that sometimes if you’re too focused on the music itself, you forget that the pop world has always surrounded the image, identifying with a role model up there on stage who happens to be singing” (Haring 121).

This quote is an example of false cause because it suggests musicians that graduate from music school forget that pop is image-oriented. In this argument, Haring assumes that technically trained musicians that have gone through music schooling either forget about their appeal to image if they attempt to write pop music, or trained musicians care about their technical writing of the music that they do not appeal to consumers of pop music at all and lack the typical pop star image. In another example, Haring also makes a fallacy in where he either misrepresents or exaggerates a statistic. Haring states, “That leaves the independent world, filling up the market void of the other 95 percent of the business” (Haring 37). This fallacy occurs in Haring’s writing like because Haring is a DIY musician, he may make statistical exaggerations to state his opposition against major label practices. Both the uses of these fallacies can affect his argument because it may cause the reader to see through his exaggerations and assumptions at times. Although many of what Haring says in his book is factual, Haring’s opinions and exaggerations on certain aspects of the music industry may make him seem like he is ranting out of his emotions as a result of his own experience with the music industry in certain parts of the book.

I recommend that musicians who looking to making a career in playing music should read this book. As a musician himself, Haring makes great points on what to do and what to avoid in the music industry. His experience and knowledge can be useful to pass on to the next generation of musicians who are interested in living comfortably by touring. This book can also be informative to other people who are also in the music industry, including record labels, managers, booking agents, promoters, music distributors, marketing teams, and more. These people who are also involved in the music industry need to be informed of proper business practices and ethics because they work with the musicians themselves. Shady business practices in the music industry can cause the perpetrator to get a bad reputation in the small network of the industry, that other musicians can potentially refuse to work with the person, effectively leaving the person out of business. This book is important to educating musicians and the various people involved in dealing with musicians.

This book has helped me understand my research topic because it debunks many of the myths about how the music industry works. Although it is true that many major labels can take advantage of musicians by wording their contracts intricately, musicians can achieve success while even avoiding major label support. Not all artists on major label companies make decent profits. Similarly, not all artists that are on independent lack funding. This book has also shown me how much success is up to the choices musicians make when entering the world of the music industry. Musicians have the choice to choose or avoid labels, hire a management team or self-manage, hire a marketing team or self-promote, and the right to choose how to appeal to the demographics of their audience. Success in the music industry is ultimately in the control of the artist to make their own judgments and decisions on how they would like to conduct business in the music industry.

Works Cited

Haring, Bruce. How To Not Destroy Your Career In Music. Los Angeles: Lone Eagle, 2005. 1- 166. Print.

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