Donald S. Passman is a popular, well-respected entertainment lawyer throughout the music industry, having garnered praise from the likes of Jimmy Iovine, American Idol judge Randy Jackson and producer Rick Rubin, among others, and whose many clients over the years include Green Day, Quincy Jones, Tom Waits and Pink.
Late last year, he published the seventh edition of All You Need To Know About The Music Business, a book that aims to give musicians, producers, and anyone else trying to make a living in the ever-changing industry the essential guide on how to survive and thrive in it.
Not counting the Index, the book is 444 pages long. If this sounds like too much reading for you, it’s good to know that author thinks so, too. Passman writes in its first pages, “You can read it as casually or intensely as suits your interest level, attention span, and pain tolerance.” You’ve got to love a writer with a sense of humor – there’s plenty more of that throughout these pages. But everyone starts with “Part I: Your Team of Advisors,” which is a long but useful guide on how to pick your team of professionals as an artist: personal manager, business manager, attorney, and agent.
Of all the great info in this section, the following stands out: A personal manager is the most important member of your pro team, since he/she is more involved in an artist’s day-to-day activities than other members. However, an industry lawyer is “much easier” to get than a manager, according to the author (an attorney himself). That’s because a lawyer’s time with you is minimal compared to a manager’s time, and they’re less expensive, believe it or not. A Passman line worth noting: “It’s the lawyer’s relationships – not their time – that count.”
Key book tip one: The site allaccess.com is an often updated list of people in the music business you might want to contact and make part of your pro team.
Key book tip two: Pick a lawyer with good references and who believes in you as a recording artist, not one who will shop just anyone. Lawyers have good and bad reputations within the music industry and picking the wrong one could backfire on you.