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I’ve Got the Need, the Need to Read – Part 2 | USAA Member Community



Last week I highlighted two of my favorite business books. Here are two more of my favorite books written for musicians.


(Cue Music!)


“All You Need To Know About The Music Business” by Donald S. Passman


For all you musicians who plan to pursue a career in song, this is a cool reference guide on all things music. The author is an attorney with over 30 years in the music business. If you plan to embark on anything musical – from digital downloads, to copyright, to film music composition, to managers and agents, this book is for you.


Think of this book as a desk reference that provides exhaustive information about numerous aspects of the music industry. It’s like having an entertainment lawyer at your fingertips in page form.


To give you an idea of who have either read or recommended this book, consider the Artists quoted on the back cover: Katy Perry, Randy Jackson, Tom Waits, Quincy Jones, and Adam Levine, to name a few.


“All You Need To Know About The Music Business” is jam-packed with valuable information. So, if you’re in one of the military bands or you’re planning to go from the barracks to the big time, this book will be a great addition to your library.


“From Zero to Sideman in 5 Steps” by Mel Brown


Although I don’t play Saxophone professionally on a full-time, regular basis, I did decide step up my practice routine and made the time to improve as much as possible years ago. I have some very kind, professional musician friends who let me sit in on a tune or two from time to time. This is how I met Mel Brown.


The year was 2011, and a friend of mine came to town to play a gig. As usual, he told me to bring my horn and we’d play a couple of tunes together. When I arrived at the club, I prepared as much as possible and had practiced quite a bit and felt somewhat comfortable with the song selections – now mind you, it was only two songs.


I walked into the Green Room (for those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s the waiting room for anyone about to appear on stage). I met the drummer and shook his hand. Then, I turned to meet the bass player Mel Brown.


If you’ve never heard of Mel Brown, let me share with you short version of a long list of extraordinary musical accomplishments he has under his fingers. He’s a Grammy Award-winning, recording, and touring Sideman/Musician. He has 15+ years performing and on-camera work for major films and television. Worked with Eddie Murphy, Gladys Knight, Marc Anthony, Brian McKnight, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Toby Keith, Wayman Tisdale, and others.  And, he appeared on several #1 Billboard albums and singles.


I knew none of this as I stepped into the room, much less stepping into “scared speechless” mode! In the course of the conversation with Mel, I learned 3 things:


  1. Mel Brown appeared alongside Eddie Murphy in the movie Coming To America. (Watch the scenes involving the band!)
  2. Mel Brown, at the time, had recorded as the featured bass player on half of the Top 50 Smooth Jazz recordings on the ranking charts.
  3. I should have practiced more!

In his book “Zero to Sideman”, Brown tells it like it is. He breaks the music industry down into little bite-sized portions so that you can fully grasp the concepts on what it takes to be successful.


He covers topics such as: the dedication required in this industry, where your career can take you, equipment needs, what you need to learn, the importance of demo tapes, self-promotion, what being a sideman is all about, and the financial aspects and must-know stuff.


What prompted me to buy Mel’s book was the experience of playing a couple of songs with him. He’s a great guy and willing to share his knowledge and expertise in person. He made me feel at ease as someone who hadn’t reached a LIVE performance comfort level and in spite of his notoriety and super human musical skills. He’s forever humble while being the consummate professional musician.


So, there you have it! Four books – one for each letter in the words MOJO or FUBU! Or, for you musical types, one for each string on a bass guitar or each space on the musical staff!


My hope is that you can get your MOJO working in business or music, or both!


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Related article:

I’ve Got the Need, the Need to Read – Part 1





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