Have you ever found yourself wondering "is it really possible to make a comfortable living as a musician/composer/artist?" I have. And I went to some of the best music schools in the world. But, they didn't teach me anything about how to run my music business, how to market my music, entrepreneurship, advertising, social media marketing. It takes more than a great music education these days to make it. We need another type of education too, a real 'boots-on-the-ground', day-to-day, how-to-make-money-with-our-art kind of education.

Here are several resources that I have found very useful when considering how to market my music. Since I left life as a University Music Professor, I've held jobs in online marketing and social media marketing. I've learned a ton by reading many books, taking courses, attending seminars, listening to podcasts, and otherwise immersing myself in all things to do with Direct Response Marketing. As I've been learning, I've been thinking about how these things can apply to my life as a musician. I hope you find them as useful as I have! I personally endorse each one of these excellent products. In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm also an affiliate for each of these, so if you buy them using my links below, I'll get a little commission.

Books About Being an Artist/musician

Real Artists Don't Starve by Jeff Goins

A MUST READ for all artists and musicians, especially early in their journey. Jeff Goins dispels the old notion that the so-called "starving artist" is something we should aspire to. His prime example is the great artists Michelangelo. Does a great artist really have to wait until after they're dead to be recognized and appreciated?  

The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins discusses the all important topic of Vocation, finding your true calling in life. This really helped me get over a lot guilt I've had for many years about my choice to go down the long and deep rabbit hole of professional musician-hood. Highly, highly recommended.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

This book is just the kick in the butt I need on occasion. How to break through all sorts resistance that get in the way of creating great art.  Pressfield gives lots of great advice about what makes one a professional vs an amateur when it comes to writing, or any kind of creative activity.

It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden

Short and insightful, but right to the heart of the matter, this book is a keeper. Because it's so short, you can read it many times. I get something new out of it every time I read it. It gives me that empowered feeling I often need to pull through a tough spot with my art.

A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young

More and more I'm realizing that artistic creativity and entrepreneurship come from the same place in my brain. It takes lots of good ideas to succeed in both arenas. I used to think that running a business was dull and boring. As it turns out, it can be just as creative an exercise as writing a great song or composing a symphony. This book is very short, but worth reading again and again. It is a great idea sparker!

Peak by Anders Ericsson

What does it really take to become an Expert in a given field? You've probably heard of the 10,000 hours rule. It has been misrepresented in some popular literature. Anders Ericsson, who developed this rule, sets the record straight in this book. It's an excellent guide to learning what it really takes to reach Expert level in your chosen field and applies directly in the music field.

Books About Business & Marketing

DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson

This is a great introduction to the world of online marketing, selling, and growing your own little company. There's SO much to learn in this field and there are many books you don't want to read. This one, however, is great because it gives you a really clear view of the whole playing field.

Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

Hyatt's book is great for getting started and building a solid presence online. There are many short chapters that help you think about how your message, your distribution channels, your website, how to build an audience, and much more.

To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink

Most of us are new to the world of selling. Pink's book is a great introduction into a world that we all live and work in already, whether we realize it or not. Through many great stories and examples, he'll help you realize that you are already a sales person and how to make the most of it.


No B.S. Direct Marketing by Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy is one of the Godfathers of modern marketing. Of the thousands of marketing books available, this is one of the few that cuts through the crap and gets right to the point.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Ries & Trout

Ries & Trout spent their careers studying trends, rules, and laws in all sorts of marketing and business building. All of their books are great, but this one is a summation of all they learned, honed down to the crucial 22 laws. And, as they say, "violate them at your own risk!"

How To Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards

The definition copywriting (not copyright) is "salesmanship in print." In other words, it's choosing the right words to help you sell your products. Ray Edwards is one of the best copywriters around. He's written copy for Tony Robbins and many other famous people. His book is the best, short and simple guide to writing great "words that sell" for beginners.

Building A Story Brand by Donald Miller

So much of selling is storytelling. Don Miller teaches how to use the art of storytelling to clarify our message as business owners, whether in the field of music or any other field. But as music itself is often a "storytelling" kind of endeavor, these teachings and methods are particularly appropriate for music marketing. 

The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki's book is, hands-down, the best book on social media on the market. It is a MUST read for musicians trying to build a following. He doesn't get much into paid ads on social media, but the truth is, if you don't have the basics mastered, you'll be wasting you money on paid ads. So, master this stuff first, and then look for info about paid ads. 

Persuasion Secrets of the World's Most Charismatic & Influential Villains by Ben Settle

Ben is a master of "Character based marketing." In other words, using his unique personality and quirky character to attract an audience. I'm finding that this is very applicable to music and art businesses as we often have unique personalities. This is one of many books by Ben, but it's one of the most character oriented and useful for musicians. 

Favorite Online Business Podcasts