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Secrets of Negotiating a Record Contract.

by Moses Avalon. Backbeat Books (600 Harrison St., San Francisco, CA 94107), 2001. 303 pp., $22.95.

In Secrets of Negotiating a Record Contract, Moses Avalon takes on the musicians' point of view in the David-and-Goliath relationship between the recording artist and the music industry. As recent developments in artist-compensation are highlighted, along with the advent of Internet music distribution, this book helps fill a void in an artist's knowledge of the business of making music. The book's purpose is to act as a field guide for recording artists and composers in the complicated process of managing business dealings and contracts. Avalon, using a pseudonym, spares nothing in frankly and harshly describing the various tactics of lawyers representing labels and how to combat them.

Cleverly written, the text combines real-world experience with snippets of contract legalese, translated for the musician, that are the centerpiece of contract negotiations with record labels. The entertainingly readable anecdotes in each chapter help emphasize points like: "Sting Gets Stung in Cyberspace" and "The Wacky Tacky New Techie Wholesale Royalty Runaround." The overall progression of this book is from the beginning of a recording negotiation to the final deal, with the goal of negotiating a more favorable deal for the artist. Each chapter guides readers regarding what can be presented as fact, both in terms of time commitments, as well as monetary provisions. Sequentially, the reader is seated in the musician's place and offered the terms as usual, and then these terms are decoded. The book goes from novice to professional deal, offering resolutions to each problem.

An important warning: The language of this book contains large amounts of vulgarity and sarcasm. Obviously, he has bitterness from his vast experience as an insider.

This anti-establishment book is a must for anyone trying to break into the mass-marketing music business. For musicians primarily in the art of teaching, this book can show another viewpoint in the music industry. The next time we see an upcoming John Lennon or Madonna on the horizon, in addition to polishing his or her craft, he or she needs to make a beeline for this book. Reviewed by Ellen Goldberg-Shapiro, Marlton, New Jersey.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Music Teachers National Association, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Goldberg-Shapiro, Ellen
Publication:American Music Teacher
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 2002
Words:361
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