I regularly receive requests for book suggestions relating to the music industry. In the free time, when we’re not producing music, a lot of us like to continue to learn and grow as creative professionals or hobbyists. The past 3-4 years I’ve spent a great deal of my time reading dozens and dozens of books on music production. There are many books out there with boring and recycled content. However, there are also some gems that I would highly recommend everyone to read. Although not all of these are books on music production, they all deal with understanding what you are doing, how to develop yourself into a successful artist, and how to deal with the struggles we face in order to  challenge the fixated thought of what we think we know.

Comprehensive List of Books On Music Production and Creative Growth

Books On Composition:

1. Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies – Dennis DeSantis

In my educated opinion, this is the single best mixing reference book for both beginners and intermediate producers. Very in-depth book that covers everything engineering related; from how to set-up for accurate listening to the purpose of each mixing and mastering plug-in. Highly recommended for all skill levels or to keep handy as a reference.

2. Music Theory for Computer Musicians – Michael Hewitt

Hewitt’s book is a really easy to digest book on music theory, as it applies to your DAW. Each DAW is used in the examples, so it is not limited to a specific program. I highly recommend this for someone starting out with theory to improve their productions, or someone with no musical background. Hewitt is great with explaining complex musical ideas in easy to process ways, by providing practical examples within the DAW.  

3. Secrets of Dance Music Production – David Felton

This book I recently picked up and so far it’s been quite good. It goes over all the different elements of what dance music is composed of, and get’s quite detailed within his explanations. Felton’s book is more geared towards the beginner, however it was engaging nonetheless, regardless of your skill. I would say it is the best ‘EDM specific’ production book I have read. 

4. Ocean of Sound – David Toop

Toop has published a well written and interesting book on ambient music. Not only does David go over the technical side and history of ambiance and musical atmospheres, but he also speaks very poetically about creating these soundscapes and how they relate to our interpersonal emotions. Fantastic read that I recommend to everyone. Atmosphere is such an important aspect to creating strong productions. 

Books On Audio Engineering:

5. Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio – Mike Senior

In my educated opinion, this is the single best mixing reference book for both beginners and intermediate producers. Very in-depth book that covers everything engineering related; from how to set-up for accurate listening to the purpose of each mixing and mastering plug-in. Highly recommended for all skill levels or to keep handy as a reference.

6. Zen and the Art of Mixing – Mixerman

In Zen and the Art of Mixing, Mixerman has written an interesting read that deals with the why’s more than the how’s. Mixerman, a professional audio engineer, goes in detail to talk about the mix engineer’s mindset, how to approach projects, and how to make critical mixing decisions. Really entertaining read that is never a bore. 

7. The Mixing Engineer’s Handbook – Bobby Owinski

This is a fantastic companion book to keep around. Not only does Owinski go into great technical detail, but he also includes interviews from various audio engineers that I personally found very helpful and inspiring. It is an all-encompassing reference ‘bible’ for any producer or engineer.

On The Music Industry

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

This book is simply a must read for anyone hoping to make a professional career out of music, anyone wanting to start their own record label, or anyone interested in how the industry works. It’s a very informative book for any level of producer, and is kept up-to-date with the frequent revisions. 

9. Rick Rubin: In the Studio – Jake Brown

Highly engaging read that is a semi-biographical book on one of the greatest record producers, Rick Rubin. Brown goes into personal detail through the book, talking about Rubin’s life, experiences, and processes. Although the book can get quite technical when referring to the recording process, there are better books focused on technical info. This is a fun read on one of the most successful producers in history. 

10. Behind the Glass – Howard Massey

Behind the Glass contains a collection of interviews from a diverse range of musicians who speak about creativity, workflows, and experiences in the music industry. Really light, easy to digest book. that is great to keep in the studio or on the coffee table for a periodic dose of inspiration.

Books On Creativity:

11. The War of Art – Steven Pressfield   

Pressfield’s short book is a must-read, in my opinion, for any creative individual. It is a very philosophical book on dealing with our own mental battles as an artist, and how to overcome them. Personally I enjoy revisiting this book when I am feeling discouraged or at a creative block. Definitely pick this one up. 

12. This is Your Brain on Music – Daniel S. Levitin

This book is written by a neurologist on the psychology of music and greatly focuses on what makes us attach emotions and feelings to musical art. It’s a fairly scientific book but it is a very rewarding read with some great ideas. Moreover, it will help the reader develop a better understanding of the effects music has on our minds. 

Books On Personal Growth and Development:

13. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

Although this seems like an odd book for a music producer, personally I think this is one of the most influential books I’ve ever read. There is a reason why this is one of the most recommended books for any professional in sales, marketing, or business related fields. Knowing how to be personable, effectively network, and form relationships is extremely important in our industry. Whether it be meeting and talking to labels, meeting other artists, or getting through to A&R, this book helps with all these areas and I suggest this book to all of you. The book will educate you on how to present yourself in a professional way.

14. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey

Similar to the recommendation above, Covey’s book is not directly linked to music. However I assure you reading this book will change your views on life. It is a very engaging and practical book, and gets you in the right mindset to be successful in your life and music career. The ideas of success, persistence, and work ethic are not different for music as they are in other professions. The habits presented in this book can all be applied to our creative lives.

15. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

You know the feeling when you are really in the groove of jamming out and all worries tend to slip away for those moments? That is the ‘Optimal Experience’ according to the book’s author. This book will teach you about that experience, and how to encourage and find it in your work. This is a very challenging, immersive, and enlightening read, which deals with the bigger picture and finding happiness in your work and life. Very inspiring book that puts you in a good mindset when you’re doing creative work. A very important read.

16. The Art of Work – Jeff Goins 

Goins has written a fascinating book that looks at taking your passion (music in our case) and making the most out of it. It guides you on how to be successful and turn your passion into your career. The book includes some very interesting sections touching on dealing with failure, disappointment, and criticism, and despite the discouraging moments, listening to your intuition and following your passion. Inspiring and uplifting book to say the least.  

Elpine

Contributor

Elpine is a Canadian producer focused on deep, emotive techno and house music. Be sure to check out his work on the following platforms: BeatportSpotify and Instagram

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.