Three Must-Read Music Marketing Books (And Why You Must Read Them)

Marketing Techniques to Help Your Music Career Soar

Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Gayle, and more. You may be asking yourself, why mention these artists? What do any of them have in common? Well the answer is simple, really: Marketing. If marketing yourself as a music artist feels like a puzzle you cannot solve, don’t worry as you are not alone. In fact, it is such a common question that there have been entire Music Marketing Books based around this very concept!

If you are looking to better market yourself as a music artist, books are a great place to start! They can answer all sorts of questions.

For instance, you may be asking yourself, how can I, as a music artist, market myself in an effective and cost-efficient manner? Or you may be wondering how to navigate this new landscape of social media in a way that is conducive towards building a personal brand.

Music Marketing Books are an important resource in finding these answers. With these books as a guiding point, you will have taken your first step towards achieving a successful music career!

Books and albums on shelves at a store.
Music Marketing Books are an important resource in developing your career strategy.

First Things First - Why the Emphasis on Marketing?

While several music artists have harnessed the power of marketing to generate momentum in their career, there are still many individuals who do not recognize the importance of a personal brand. If you find yourself in that category, let me show you some examples in which marketing was  transformational to an artist’s journey.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift posing for her Lover album photoshoot with pastel blues, yellows, and pinks surrounding her.
Taylor Swift achieved great success in part because of her marketing strategy. Here Taylor is showcasing the theme/focus colors of her album Lover. Image courtesy of Euphoria.

Taylor Swift is one of the most popular artists of the generation and has earned a reputation among the internet as a marketing genius. In fact, some regard her business skills as being equal with her music prowess!

How did she achieve this title? She implemented techniques such as dropping easter egg hints in her music videos and songs  in order to increase fan engagement. This fan engagement generates hype even among those who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves Swifties. For instance, my sister, who does not actively search for this information, knows all things Taylor Swift simply because of these easter egg theory videos filling her Tik Tok For You page!

These marketing skills can be traced all the way back to the beginning of Taylor’s career, more likely than not helping to explain how she achieved some of her once-in-a-lifetime success.

Olivia Rodrigo

Olivia Rodrigo posing for her album Sour surrounded by fun star and butterfly stickers.
Olivia Rodrigo utilized nostalgic early-2000s imagery (shown above) to market herself. Image courtesy of The Glitter and Gold.

Olivia Rodrigo is another music artist who capitalizes on the positive impact of marketing. In early 2021 Olivia exploded onto the music scene with her first single “Driver’s License,” now streamed over one billion times on Spotify!

Sometimes after an artist has such a successful first single, they find it difficult to keep the momentum going because they now face the challenge of living up to their initial hype. Olivia was able to avoid this problem entirely due to her propensity for Marketing.

Olivia’s debut album Sour achieved immense success, taking the internet and the world by storm. In less than one year, she had gone from a relatively unknown music artist to a staple in the music industry!

Much of the hype surrounding Sour and Olivia herself stemmed from marketing tactics in which she created a personal brand of nostalgia and relatability. Olivia identified her target audience as the younger generations (Gen Z and Millenials), and played into these generations’ longing for a simpler time. She costumed herself in early 2000’s clothing and wove this theme into her music videos in an effort to have a nostalgic appeal.

Olivia also pushed her relatability factor by tapping into the common theme of teenage angst. She drew from the nostalgic angst of bands’ past, such as Green Day and Paramore. Her open expression of angst allowed her audience to feel connected through this shared experience, and bonded them to Olivia.


Gayle, as well, took advantage of marketing to gain notability. Her breakout song, “abcdefu”, blew up on Tik Tok because of a marketing plan done so well that many didn’t even realize they were being marketed to!

This marketing scheme featured an individual, who we now know was a part of Gayle’s team, commenting on one of Gayle’s Tik Tok posts asking if she could make a song based on the alphabet. She responded to the comment with a video of her singing the chorus of “abcdefu”. Quickly gaining millions of views, all of a sudden Gayle’s new song was everywhere from Tik Tok trends to the radio!

Photograph of the music artist Gayle.
Gayle is best known for her hit single “abcdefu” which went viral on Tik Tok. Image courtesy of Billboard.

How Can I Replicate These Artists’ Success?: Music Marketing Books!

While many of these artists had marketing teams who helped them construct these strategies, I would argue that there is a way for you to learn these skills yourself: Music Marketing Books.

The three music marketing books featured below are a great way to generate your own marketing ideas and begin to expand your audience! The best recipe for success is to combine your personal creativity with the lessons taught in these books, and you will be well on your way to building your brand as an artist!

A photograph of Lil Nas X posing with a silver and black jacket and hat.
Lil Nas X is one of the most well-known artists right now and has created a personal brand centered around self-acceptance. Image courtesy of Los Angeles Times.  

All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald S. Passman

Widely regarded as the golden standard of music marketing books, this is a must-have for anyone hoping to break out in the music industry. First published in 1991, and routinely updated to keep up with the changes in the digital world, All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald S. Passman goes into detail regarding record and managerial details along with information on how to negotiate and more!

Readers of All You Need to Know About the Music Business sing its praises, with the average rating on Amazon being 5 stars and reviewers using words such as “informative,” “excellent,” and “must read” to describe their experience with this book.

Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy

While not music-industry specific, I would say Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy is just as important, if not more, than an industry specific book.

This is because, nowadays, knowing how to brand yourself on a social media platform may be all that is needed to jumpstart your career. For instance, look at our earlier example of Gayle. She achieved overnight success simply through her involvement on Tik Tok! All it took was one viral video, spurred on by a comment designed as a marketing ploy, and she had a music career!

Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media by Brittany Hennessy covers all this and more! You’ll learn how to establish a following online plus create a brand for yourself, which then can be used to launch your very own successful music career!

A phone with social media apps such as Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
Social Media has become one of the best ways to market yourself and subsequently begin a music career. Image courtesy of Talking Influence.  

Music Marketing for the DIY Musician by Bobby Borg

As we know, the rise of social media platforms, such as Tik Tok, YouTube, and Instagram, have changed the way the music industry operates. Because of this, it is now possible for a musician to launch their career without the backing of a big record label.

This shift in the music industry offers up-and-coming artists an incredible opportunity to create their own success! However, as discussed, marketing plays an important role in determining success. This is where Music Marketing for the DIY Musician by Bobby Borg comes into play.

Music Marketing for the DIY Musician by Bobby Borg teaches musicians who are forging their own paths, without the help of big teams, how to market their music to a broad audience on their own. It provides the musician with all the marketing tools they could possibly want or need!

Now after reading this book, you may be thinking, “Okay, I know how to market myself, but how do I go about publishing my own music?”. Don’t worry, we have the perfect solution to that too! Head on over to this article in which we discuss all the ways one can self-publish their own music!

What Are You Waiting For?!

A band performs on stage at a concert together as pink and purple lights illuminate the area.
Get started marketing yourself as a music artist now so one day it can be you performing up on stage! Image courtesy of Aesthetic Magazine.

Well, I think that just about covers it! Let’s recap what we covered really quick:

  • The importance of marketing and building your own personal brand
  • Musician success stories involving marketing strategies
  • How you can achieve success as a musician utilizing marketing
  • The top three music marketing books I recommend

Now that that’s done, I think you’re ready to go out there and conquer the music industry! Don’t forget: Have fun, stay true to yourself, and make your best music!

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Elyse Endres

Elyse is a marketer, writer, and lover of dogs, dance, and reading. She resides in Columbus, Ohio.
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