The best books for starting your own band

Who am I?

Since childhood, I've been in love with musicians, the world they live in, and the fruits of their labor. I spent years listening to my parent's record collection, which covered everything from pop, rock, and country, to jazz and classical. Today, music continues to stir my passion like nothing else. Though an industry career was never in the cards for me personally, I've frequently hovered around its periphery. My goal was to write a band story, one that strayed from common tropes to explore, through humor and heartbreak, the many joys and pitfalls of life in this mercurial and often nonsensical industry. The result was my trilogy, Idol Pursuits. Enjoy.


I wrote...

Swimming Through the Dawn

By R.P. Rioux,

Book cover of Swimming Through the Dawn

What is my book about?

Swimming Through the Dawn begins the Idol Pursuits trilogy, a captivating adventure of a dreamer who tempts the odds by starting her very own K-Pop girl group in America. What could possibly go wrong? 

The books I picked & why

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The Disenchantments

By Nina Lacour,

Book cover of The Disenchantments

Why this book?

In a certain sense, musicians are like athletes. The vast majority will never come close to turning pro, but they continue to do it for the love of the experience. I like this book because it focuses on a group of young people at a crossroads in their lives and their relationships with each other. They decide to kick around one summer on a low-profile band tour of the Pacific Northwest. Not concerned with record deals or writing hit songs, they just play music because they can, and why not? Along the way, they discover a realization about who they are as individuals and the different directions they might be going in as they mature.

The Disenchantments

By Nina Lacour,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Disenchantments as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the award-winning, bestselling author of Hold Still and We Are Okay.
(Cover may vary)

Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall.

But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of…


The Commitments

By Roddy Doyle,

Book cover of The Commitments

Why this book?

In my opinion, few writers have expressed in words the sensation of what it's like to make and listen to music quite like Roddy Doyle has in The Commitments. The book abounds with youthful energy and humor. His nearly complete reliance on dialogue rather than description creates an immediacy that I've rarely experienced elsewhere. He eschews tired cliches in favor of presenting music-making as a craft that requires prodigious amounts of labor and a high tolerance for BS. This also happens to be the source material for one of the best band movies ever made.

The Commitments

By Roddy Doyle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Commitments as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1988, THE COMMITMENTS follows a small band of musicians from the Barrytown area of Dublin as they try to make the big time. From the author of THE SNAPPER, THE VAN and PADDY CLARKE HA HA HA.


How to Write One Song: Loving the Things We Create and How They Love Us Back

By Jeff Tweedy,

Book cover of How to Write One Song: Loving the Things We Create and How They Love Us Back

Why this book?

Unless you plan on exclusively being a cover group, you're going to have to come up with your own songs eventually. Their quality, or lack thereof, will absolutely make or break your band. Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo fame discusses the process of writing a song from beginning to end.

The route he takes leans more philosophical than towards the nitty-gritty details of music theory. He encourages you to be less self-critical, illustrates how to draw inspiration from personal experiences, and notes the importance of infusing your everyday life with creativity. One of my own book's main characters struggles mightily with self-acceptance. She could have benefitted from Mr. Tweedy's advice.

How to Write One Song: Loving the Things We Create and How They Love Us Back

By Jeff Tweedy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Write One Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A ROUGH TRADE and PITCHORK BOOK OF THE YEAR

'A guide to rediscovering the joys of creating that we all felt as children.'
NEW YORK TIMES

One of the century's most feted singer-songwriters, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, digs deep into his own creative process to share his unique perspective about song-writing and offers a warm, accessible guide to writing your first song, championing the importance of making creativity part of your everyday life and experiencing the hope, inspiration and joy that accompanies it.

'Fascinating.' ROUGH TRADE
'Eloquent.' INDEPENDENT
'Nourishing.' PITCHFORK
'A proselytiser for the act of songcraft.' FINANCIAL TIMES
'A smart,…


How to Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician

By Ari Herstand,

Book cover of How to Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician

Why this book?

You've read it all before. The standard trope of a rockstar genius turned slow-motion trainwreck through drug-fueled self-indulgence has become all too common in music fiction. The truth is a successful career in the music business requires lots of hard work and smart decision-making. This is especially so in today's world of rapidly shifting technological and social dynamics. Herstand, in plain language, tells it like it is, offering both a sobering assessment of the many challenges you'll face, but also practical real-world advice on how to overcome them. Even if you have no intention of becoming a musician, it's an eye-opener into how the modern business works.

How to Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician

By Ari Herstand,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How to Make It in the New Music Business as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How to Make It in the New Music Business has become the go-to resource for "do it yourself" musicians eager to make a living in a turbulent industry. Inspiring thousands to stop waiting around for that "big break", Ari Herstand returns, maintaining that a stable career can be built by taking advantage of the tools at our fingertips. Including the latest trends and developments in the bustling UK music scene, he offers inspiring success stories across media. With the overarching theme of making real connections with human beings, it is a must-have for anyone navigating the complex yet advantageous modern…


Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl.

By Evelyn McDonnell,

Book cover of Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl.

Why this book?

In many ways, my trilogy is an open love letter to the many female singers and musicians I've admired ever since I was young. While extensively referencing numerous artists as befitting the context of my story, it pained me I had to leave out many noteworthy examples for practical purposes. Women Who Rock goes a long way towards making up the difference. This powerhouse book represents a compendium of extraordinary ladies who have contributed to the evolution of pop music in our culture, but who rarely get as much credit as they deserve collectively. The assembled stories force you to sit up and take notice of their impressive accomplishments. 

Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyonce. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl.

By Evelyn McDonnell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Women Who Rock as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Bessie Smith and The Supremes to Joan Baez, Madonna, Beyonce, Amy Winehouse, Dolly Parton, Sleater-Kinney, Taylor Swift, and scores more, women have played an essential and undeniable role in the evolution of popular music including blues, rock and roll, country, folk, glam rock, punk, and hip hop. Today, in a world traditionally dominated by male artists, women have a stronger influence on popular music than ever before. Yet, not since the late nineteen-nineties has there been a major work that acknowledges and pays tribute to the female artists who have contributed to, defined, and continue to make inroads in…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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