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Making It
Making It In The Music Business
The Business and Legal Guide for Songwriters and Performers

Lee Wilson
Reviewed by Jace Carlton
Originally published in
The Songwriter's Connection  -  December  2002

It's about time that a legal and business handbook came along to help us “creative types” out!  I mean, I’d MUCH rather spend my time performing or writing or studying something that will help me improve my craft, but if I have to know and understand the business side of a career as a songwriter then I need the right resources.  I've tried reading similar books in the past, only to be turned off by too much of the typical legal and business jargon before I could get past the first few pages.  Perhaps they offered some truly helpful information that songwriters and performers need to know, but just like a songwriter who's trying to pitch a song has a very limited amount of time to hook a potential publisher before he or she decides to listen a little longer or stop the song in mid-verse, those authors failed to deliver in those few, critical first pages.

Time Well Spent

I put Lee Wilson's “Making It In The Music Business” under the same scrutiny as those that came before.  After making it through the first few pages I thought, “Hmmm, this book might finally pass the test.”  I proceeded through the early chapters on copyrights and found myself gaining a much better understanding than ever before, and that's VERY helpful for those of us who have very strong creative minds and not so strong technical / business minds.  Lee chose to break down the variety of elements involved in the business into digestible sections, rather than trying to cram too much information down our throats all at once.  My time was becoming time well spent.

Throughout his book, Lee offers a variety of helpful tips to keep in mind as we proceed with our careers so that we can avoid what he likes to call “The Abyss of Ignorance”.  Knowledge isn't power; it's only potential power.  We must use what we learn in order to protect ourselves.  What good does it do to apply all that we learn about developing our craft, writing songs that have the potential of being hits and thus carry with them the potential of earning us money, and also residual income for our future and our family's future security, if we end up blowing it all on bad business decisions due to ignorance?

It's Our Future!

The foundation for our careers MUST be made up of equally strong amounts of creativity and business savvy.  The stronger the foundation, the better our potential for success.  The goal, of course, is to reach that point when we can hire our own business manager and lawyer to handle these things for us, but in the meantime it's up to us.  AND … when we DO reach that point in our careers when we can afford those helping hands, we need to have enough knowledge and understanding of their fields of expertise to carry on intelligent conversations with them AND ferret out any weasels that might otherwise take unfair advantage (financial and otherwise) of a less learned client.  It's our future!  It's up to US to protect it!

One word of advisement, of course (and Lee makes it very clear throughout his book), “Making It …” is not to be seen as the final word in case law or procedure.  It's a guide to help us understand the business side of our industry.  When it comes time to needing specific advise, we need to find our own entertainment attorney to guide us through our own specific minefield … and Lee even offers tips and resources on how to accomplish that, as well.

A Definite Guide For Our Success

Whether you're a songwriter or a performer, whether you're solo or in a band, whether you've been around the block a few times or you're just getting started, whether your looking at your first copyright or ready to sign a recording contract, Lee Wilson's “Making It In The Music Business” is a MUST guide to read and keep handy.  Granted, it may not be as “fun” to read as a more songwriting craft-oriented book, but it's equally as important if we want to have successful careers in the music industry.

Copyright © 2002 by Jace Carlton

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Jace Carlton is a Nashville based songwriter, music publisher, artist manager and freelance writer.  As a songwriter and collaborator much in demand in the Country market, he also enjoys writing for A/C, Pop, R&B, Smooth Jazz, Contemporary Christian, and Cabaret.  As a Freelance Writer he has contributed reviews on new CD's to online newsletters and artist websites, and occasionally contributes book and concert reviews along with personal commentary on the music industry to Nashville's Songwriter's Connection e-Zine.

He was recently honored by being selected to be a part of Nashville's Shine On Foundation, assisting talented songwriters, artists and musicians.

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