For his first foray into the world of writing; long-time artist, manager, and record label owner Michael Repel offers up The Music Industry Self Help Guide: Taking Your First Steps Towards Trampling Over the Obstacles in an Independent Market. Set to be the first in a series of music education guidebooks, this volume offers a career development strategy for those emerging artists looking to find their way in the industry.
This is not a book for musicians who are unwilling to roll up their sleeves and put in the work themselves. The author is a firm believer in the DIY ( Do It Yourself) mentality. Repel has a very honest approach, with what he refers to as “hard doses of common sense.” This is evident even in the introduction when he says, “Get this through your thick fuckin head: No one cares about you, and you are not as awesome as you think you are. So get over yourself.” And that won’t be the last time the F-bomb will be dropped, so if you are a gentle, faint-of-heart soul, brace yourself.
He starts off with some of the basics- or what you might assume are the basics but are often overlooked by those who expect to become a star without the hard work. The author offers a basic course in music theory, and even covers the ins and outs of poetry as it relates to rap music. He also covers the importance of your band’s line-up, name and logo. Repel then moves on to the next level, after the basics are in place. There are chapters on how to develop a solid online presence, merchandising, the importance of your album artwork and the band’s first release. There is also useful information on how to approach dealing with copyright issues, performance rights and royalty collection.
There are also those aspects that a young musician may assume someone will do for him/her, and they very well may, but there is no substitute for knowing how to do it yourself. The musician will need to develop a press kit and prepared to give interviews to media outlets, learn how to market and promote themselves, book shows for themselves and live the touring life. And if you are not going 100% down the DIY path, there is a chapter on how to deal with labels and management.
To be sure, Repel is honest and straightforward throughout the book, but really lays it on the line when writing about some of the common pitfalls that musicians will most likely encounter on their path down the music highway such as dealing with bad promoters, live sound problems, haters, violence, and chemical dependency. The author offers helpful and sometimes sobering statistics along the way, and even offers a basic layout that any band could tailor to their needs to create live performance agreements, performance riders, and a stage plot and input list.
This is an excellent, no-holds barred manual that any musician, especially those in the beginning and intermediates stages of their career, should take to heart. All of the bases are covered. And while each chapter deserves a thorough read, the layout of the book makes it simple to find or revisit individual topics at the those points in your career when you specifically need to refresh your memory on copyright issues, or merchandising, for example.
In addition to encouraging performers to take the DIY route in the music business, it appears that Repel takes his own advice in the writing business, as this book is published on Repel Media Publications. More information and links can be found at http://themusicindustryselfhelpguide.com.