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Launch Your Music Business: Print Resources

This guide is your introduction to business opportunities in the music industry
Print Resources


"In a world of regret, sacrifice and hardship, laughter and music are medicine." - Immortal Technique

“Ten years have worn this guitar down
Its ivory whites are now mustard brown
Its face bears cracks from every town
Still it resonates with age.
Where would I be without its ring?
Who would I be if I didn't sing?
For half a chance you spare nothing --
A tethered bird to a tethered cage.
I sing to you to feed the dream...”
- Ferron song, Shadows on a Dime

"I didn't expect to do this for a living, being a recording artist. I was just playing music for the fun of it and writing songs. That was kind of my escape, you know, from the humdrum of the world." - John Prine

“Making music for me is truly therapeutic…I always feel like a sense of release every time I make a project…to let go from some of this trauma I was holding on to for decades…let it go with hopes that it would help other people too.” – Red Shaydz interview on Hot96.9

“When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups…I want to speak to their souls.” John Coltrane

“Music makes us want to live. You don’t know how many times people have told me that they’d been down …But then a special song caught their ear and that helped give them renewed strength. That’s the power music has.” Mary J. Blige

“I would rather write 10,000 notes than a single letter of the alphabet.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

“People don’t understand the kind of fight it takes to record what you want to record the way you want to record it.” – Billie Holiday

“and they can call me crazy if i fail, all the chance that i need, is one-in-a-million, and they can call me brilliant, if i succeed,  gravity is nothing to me, moving at the speed of sound, i'm just gonna get my feet wet, until i drown” - Ani DiFranco song, Swan Dive

“I am not going to be dictated to by fans, certainly. I am dictated enough to by my record company to last me a million years.” – Marvin Gaye

“Toto stop your barking, 'cause we’re not in Kansas no more…” – Melanie Safka song Kansas

"I wish there had been a music business 101 course I could have taken." - Kurt Cobain

“From the get-go, I wasn’t going to sign a record deal unless I could completely do it on my terms…I’m not going to bend in hopes that it’s going to reach more people or whatever. It’s just not worth it.”  - Kacey Musgraves

“Good art provides people with a vocabulary about things they can’t articulate.” – Mos Def

“Life is like a great teacher... she will repeat the lesson until you learn.”
 - Ricky Martin

“At noon on one day coming, human strength will fill the streets

Of every city on our planet, hear the sound of angry feet

With business freezed up in the harbour, the kings will pull upon their hair

And the banks will shudder to a halt, and the artists will be there…” Ferron song, It Won’t Take Long

“Success is how many people I can impact and connect to in the crowd on a scale where they want to push themselves further in life.” – Kendrick Lamar

You can spend ten minutes in a really dark place and write a song about it that lasts forever.” – John Doe

“The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.” – BB King

“Dream only a dream if work don’t follow it.” – Kendrick Lamar song Institutionalized

"It's not in the mainstream media, but across towns, it is amazing how there are small groups of people getting together and forming artistic collectives - they may not be being overtly political, but I'd say by channeling their energy into community projects, that's a valid political statement.” – Johnny Flynn

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Topics of Research - Print Resources

For  information on how to use the catalog to search by subject or keyword, visit our research guides on Using the Library Catalog and Researching at the Boston Public Library. We also offer a general research guide Music @ the BPL

When searching out catalog, each title has an availability statement. Not all titles are available to borrow.

"In Library Use Only" normally means the item must be read at the library. During COVID-19 closure, you can apply to borrow an "In Library Use Only" title:

1) Submit an Inter-Library Loan Request

2) After assessing the condition of the book, staff will let you know whether it can be borrowed. Your request may not be approved if the condition is poor.

Here are a selection of titles available through our catalog:

Songwriting is composing music and writing lyrics (words) for songs. For some, composing music comes easier, for others it is the lyrics. Many people find getting started the hardest part. What does it take to write meaningful lyrics and successful melodies? Here are some books that provide inspiration and technical advice on musical styles, writing lyrics, composing and arranging music, and more:

Recording captures musical sound, with the intent of preservation for later duplicating and sharing with others. How is this don? There are many processes and approaches to this aspect of the music business. Here are some books to help you understand your options:

Performing is the act of making music in from of an audience – be it one person or 1 million. Regardless of where you go to make your music, you do this to be heard and enjoyed. It is an act of sharing. Use these books to explore which aspects of performing to plan around before your first gig:

Business principles can be applied to many aspects of the music industry. Here are some of the books we have to help you get some know-how so you can avoid pitfalls like copyright infringement, performance contract loopholes and financial failure:

Legal issues are covered in many music business resources listed under our other topics. Here are some titles specific to legal aspects of the music industry and of owning a business and copyright protections:






Explore the myriad and endless career possibilities in the music industry with these books:

Want to learn some new skills? Maybe try a new instrument or read about music theory. Here are a few suggestions to inspire your exploration: