Building Your Music Business Basic Foundation
Spiritmedia LLC (release date: September 25, 2022)
By Robert M. Marovich
Building Your Music Business Basic Foundation is a brief primer written by music industry veteran and educator Henry Harris. He shares practical general knowledge, gained over years of experience, to help independent artists learn the fundamentals of the professional music business.
His goal, Harris writes, is to help artists live their dream, fulfill their vision, and make a living in music. His tips are designed to level the playing field for those who have quality creative content but little, if any, knowledge about how to get heard.
The book focuses on what Harris terms the Music Business Basic Foundation, or MBBF. It is a left-brained analytical business complement to the right-brained creative process. Harris breaks the MBBF blueprint down into four fundamental components: Revenue, Media, Marketing, and Performance. Four balancing factors are Content Creation, Registration, Discovery, and Recognition. All must balance, Harris argues, for the artist to be successful in navigating the music business.
In describing each of the four fundamental components and four balancing factors, Harris covers topics such as music policy, copyright, the varieties of contracts and royalties, performing rights organizations, effective metadata for tracking and royalty collection, music publishing, cost- and time-effective marketing strategies, and active and honest uses of social and traditional media. Harris explains and expands terms so they cover contemporary uses, such as mp3s as masters and synchronization licenses.
The book is written in uncomplicated language and is well organized. There’s a simple quiz and a list of helpful resources at the conclusion. Although Harris is best known as an industry leader in the gospel music community, his book is sufficiently general for use by artists of any genre who are embarking on a music career. It is also a pathway to more comprehensive learning in genre-specific topics.
Longtime professional musicians will be familiar with most, if not all, of Harris’s topics and tips., He covers the basics, and sometimes just reinforces common sense, but doesn’t do deep dives on any particular subject. That’s something the reader can do later, based on their specific business needs. While including real-life examples from Harris’s experience would have helped readers gain a greater understanding of each subject, the book is a handy and easy-to-use reference tool.
In the end, Harris argues, just as quality creative content cannot get heard without following the MBBF principles, the principles are valueless without quality creative content. “You cannot market an ineffective product.” He instructs artists to establish their mission first so they don’t go into the business without a clear vision of what they want to achieve. You cannot be successful if you don’t have a sense of what success means.
Harris’s book is not meant to be a magic bullet; he acknowledges that starting a music career is not easy. But having an instruction manual from Henry Harris can help an artist avoid common mistakes and setbacks. The book is also available on Kindle and as a 67 minute audio version on Audible.
Written by : Bob Marovich
Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.
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