With Summer in full swing, and the World Cup over by the end of the week, we will again have time to read! I assembled a summer reading list of books that I have found to be inspiring, energizing, thought-provoking, innovative and entertaining.
Aside from one single book, none of these books were written with the music industry in mind, and that was a conscious decision when I assembled this list. As the old Music Industry model crumbles, I think it's unwise to try and find inspiration and wisdom from those that are part of the problem. Instead i find myself much more inspired by VC's, tech companies, social media companies, social entrepreneurs, start-ups, and traditional one-product companies than I am by anyone else in the music industry.
Why listen to Doug Morris, when Seth Godin has much better ideas?
The old guard is self-congratulating and reactive, our solutions are proactive and customer-oriented. The old model defends the status quo, our future lies in change. This in a nutshell is the theme of all of my writing on this site, and therefor logically reflected in this summer reading list. When a book has been previously covered in an earlier article on this site, it will include a "Related Reading" link to the article in question.
Fourteen books in no particular order:
- Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer - Am I really recommending artists, managers and other music biz folks read a book about hospitality and starting successful restaurants? I sure am! Full of lessons in customer service, pro-active community building, and more this book is required reading for anyone that has customers. (Amazon) (Related Reading: Hospitality In The Music Business)
- Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin - In my humble opinion the most important book on this list. It should be required reading for every senior in High School. I'm not going to say much more about it and will just hope my recommendation piques your interest enough to purchase it. You won't be disappointed. (Amazon)
- Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson - Even Bob Lefsetz has been touting this one! As a 37Signals customer and fan I pre-ordered this the day it was announced. A fast and focused read, with numerous "keep it simple" style lessons and anecdotes. Truly energizing. (Amazon) (Related reading: What If Jason Fried Worked In The Music Business?)
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Dan and Chip Heath - The Heath's write a column in Fast Company Magazine which I thoroughly enjoy. This is a set of anecdotes and thoughts on why certain ideas "stick", or have traction with an audience, and why others just fade away. Replace "ideas" with "artist marketing campaigns" and get ready to have your eyes opened. (Amazon)
- Getting Real: The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application by Jason Fried, Heinemeier David Hansson, and Matthew Linderman - Don't let the title of this book scare you off. This doesn't have to be about web applications at all, and it certainly isn't a technical handbook. This is the precursor to the aforementioned Rework, and useful materials for artists thinking about their web presence and even stage show. (Amazon)
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen - A well-known classic in the productivity genre. As the new model of the music industry requires more work done by artists and managers in a shorter amount of time, this can be a good guideline to keep your head above water and not drown in your endless list of tasks. (Amazon)
- The E Myth Revisited - Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael E. Gerber - As mentioned in the byline of this site, artists you should consider yourself entrepreneurs these days. Don't be a cog in the wheel, be on the board of your own company, with your art at the center. (Amazon)
- Walden; Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau - Perhaps my favorite book, and definitely the most avant-garde inclusion on this list. Essentially the ultimate guide on minimalism, this book can help teach business men and artists how to run a lean company and not be wasteful in thought or material. Even the NY Times recently wrote about the rise of lean start ups. Lets just say Tommy Motolla and Clive Davis probably never read this one, or else they wouldn't have helmed such bloated companies. (Amazon)
- Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin - 'Fans' are very 2001, these days artists need to build communities of followers, tribes if you will. This is not a how-to book. It's better than that, and doesn't assume you can actually write a how-to book on this complex and organic topic. (Amazon)
- Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith - The perfect complementary book to the aforementioned Tribes. Where Seth takes a bird's eye view, Chris and Julien really dive into the topic. (Amazon)
- The Tipping Point : How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell - One of Gladwell's well-publicized classics, which provides us with anecdotes and lessons on what exactly stimulates trends and where they might originate. Highly useful for artists chasing that illusive viral video goal, or those slowly trying to build their careers. (Amazon)
- Power Hold'em Strategy by Daniel Negreanu - You need to learn how to play poker. It will help you in more ways than you can imagine. It's also really fun. And you have to play for money. Otherwise it's pointless. (Amazon)
- Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk - I mean, look at that title. Now that's what I'm talking about. Remember, work is not a job. (Amazon)
- Follow the Music: The Life and High Times of Elektra Records in the Great Years of American Pop Culture by Jac Holzman and Gavan Daws - Ahhh finally the only music oriented book on this list. Jac Holzman is a music industry hero of mine, from the era of the real 'music men'. He made mistakes, but he did a lot of things right. An example to follow, and many amazing stories to learn from. (Amazon)
Book recommendations from your end would be appreciated as well of course.
Share in the comments!
This post originally appeared on Wesley's great industry blog.