REVIEW by Willard Manus

Here are three books for all those who are in--or wannabee in- -the
music business.

THE GUERILLA GUIDE TO THE MUSIC BUSINESS by Sarah Davies and Dave Laing, published by Continuum, 448 pp, $29.95 ppbk, looks at just about every aspect of the music business from the inside. As the authors say, "It is a book for the independently minded player, D.J., songwriter and
music business person, a book that we hope will help you enjoy what you
do, avoid too many pitfalls and, yes, maybe even help you have a hit along the way.,,,One of our main aims is to help you decide when or whether you need the services of a manager, lawyer, accountant, agent, record label publisher, and so on. We do this ...through interviews with experienced music business professionals, from both sides of the Atlantic. In our interviews these professionals give you advice on the pros and cons of 'going it alone' in the music business."

A sample passage, On Running a Record Label: "The first rule of thumb
is to identify your market. This doesn't, however, mean that you shouldn't identify your market and not ask yourself, 'Who do I think is going to buy my records?' and 'Do these people exist and are they accessible as a group?' This isn't as daunting as it sounds. You may be a rock band and decide to put out your own records. You've discovered that 150 people go to a certain pub every Saturday. You've found out from the musicians who play there that they play in twelve similar pubs. Do your sums and you'll discover that you've actually got a potential buying public of a couple of thousand people reasonably local to you. They won't all buy the record--if they did, you'd have a mildly successful first release--but some will buy it and play it to their friends, and if the record's good the word will spread and the next record should do better, and so on."

SECRETS OF NEGOTIATING A RECORD CONTRACT, THE MUSICIAN'S GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING AND AVOIDING SNEAKY LAWYER TRICKS, by Moses Avalon, Backbeat Books, 305 pages, $22.95 pbk. As the publisher says, "This is a streetwise guide to deciphering music recording agreements crafted by today's top major label lawyers. To help you out-maneuver treacherous loopholes, hidden agendas and other contractual land mines that drain your earnings, Secrets exposes-- once and for all--the sneaky, multi-layered language that lawyers use."

Sample passage on How to Negotiate: "Until you prove yourself, this will be a tough battle. What you should try to negotiate is the aggregate. That is the total amount that the label agrees to reimburse you for tour costs. Try to get it not recoupable. (Hey, it's worth a try). Indie labels will budge more on this than m,ajors, in my experience. 50% recoupable for a new act is not unheard of."

R&B (RHYTHM & BUSINESS): THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF BLACK MUSIC, edited by Norman Kelley, with contributions from hip-hop luminary Chuck D., Courtney Love, Danny Goldberg and others. Akashic Books,
334 pages, $24.95 hdbnd. This "is the first anthology that explores the
economic relationship between black music and the record's
really about black economic development--or lack thereof. Most books that focus on black music tend to look at the content or form of the music, but curiously neglect its economic aspects."

Sample passage: "It is the contention of this essay that black music operates within a 'structure of stealing' that dates back to the time when the ancestors of today's African-Americans began arriving in this country as slaves...The structure of stealing that has evolved since the slavery period has allowed both whites and blacks to ignore the critical roles of black music and black labor in the American music industry."

Provocative statements like this are to be found on every page of this hard-hitting, gutsy and important book.