The Music Producer's Survival Guide

By mic on 4/8/2014

Some time ago I received a copy of a book – The Music Producer's Survival Guide. Chaos, Creativity, and Career in Independent and Electronic Music – by Brian M. Jackson, published by CENGAGE Learning (ISBN-13: 978-1-285-19892-7, ISBN-10: 1-285-19892-1). First, I should apologize to the author and publisher for taking so long to write this. I was traveling over the past one month. And the book is dense.

I enjoyed this book for a number of reasons. It is well written. You would be surprised how difficult it is to write structured sentences that flow into a structured thought. It goes beyond music, into philosophy and psychology. It is full of examples (about Apple, Pro Tools, Lewis Carroll, Dr. Suziki, etc.). In short, the author has done a good job planning this work and is familiar with the field in a way that says that music production and creation is not just a job, but also a hobby.

What did I find?

  • Chapters 1 and 2 – "Musica Universalis" and "Plot Point on the Space-Time Continuum" – require patience. There is much to be said about music and there is much to be put down to set the stage for what is to follow. Patience or not, I enjoyed the examples, quotes, and theory, getting lost here and there and finding my way back. Flipping through these chapters again now though, I see they make sense. This book was written with a plan and these chapters do prepare the reader for the rest of the book.
  • I found it interesting that electronic music was treated as something different and separate, deserving a discussion on its own. I guess this is warranted, because of the rapid technological changes and the different creative process that are particular to electronic music.
  • I was also surprised, in a good way, by the relatively long discussion of the Recording Industry Association of America's and, in general, the music industry's fight with copyright infringements. I liked the story. It was my friends and I have been curious about. I never thought it should be important to the musician, but it does explain a lot.
  • I very much enjoyed Chapter 5 and 6 – "The Social Scene" and "Producer Tips" (i.e., networking, movers and shakers, working with others, communication) – because these are not the first topics we think of, when going into the music business. They should be and have a rightful place in this book.
  • I skipped Chapter 7 – "Creativity". Apologies to the author again: I just happened to zero in on a reference to Chapter 8 – "Selecting Your Tools" (i.e., audio interfaces and digital audio workstations, speakers and headphones, etc.). I have tried to write about this before and to design music software and so Chapter 8 was too interesting to leave for later. (As a side note, I was surprised by the choice of headphones – specifically by the two Sony MDRs.)

I think this book is more of a dissertation – a philosophy of life in a sense and quite an impressive work. I would read it as a book, rather than flip through it as a list of tips. And the author is definitely a person I would like to meet and talk to.

authors: mic


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