Kelly offers a handbook for music-makers that covers an impressive breadth of topics.
The author is clearly an accomplished musician, which comes across in a quick glance at the several-pages-long table of contents, which is full of multiple headings and subheadings. The book includes sections on such topics as sound equipment, managers, goals, copyrights, unions, and different types of jobs that musicians can undertake. There are also tangential chapters, including “Personal Subjects,” which cover family, friends, and vices. Everything a musician would need to consider is on this list. However, the information in the book itself is poorly organized. The book starts with “The Value of An Education,” discussing different options for musicians to learn their craft. It’s not a bad place to start, but Kelly doesn’t define his audience first—what type and skill level of musician he’s addressing, or what their goals might be. Is the information intended for a basement-rock drummer or a hopeful professional session guitarist or a clarinetist looking to join a major orchestra? As a result, the book starts off-kilter. Some of the book’s advice seems like mere platitudes; a chapter called “Internal Resonance,” for example, addresses the more soulful aspects of being a player, and the first three subheadings are “Believe in Yourself,” “Self-Resilience,” and “Do It on Your Own.” These seem to say similar things in different ways, and sometimes unclearly: “By not behaving obsequiously and using ploys to get a job can also be refreshing and spiritually fulfilling.” There is some good advice in the book, as when the author counsels musicians to make contacts with people who work as sidemen for bigger artists, whom he calls “some of the most important people one can get to know….One can go from a fan to a peer.” He also helpfully offers the addresses of websites where one can find examples of effective resumes. Overall, the book offers to assist musicians who are looking to navigate a confusing and intimidating business. However, the book itself is often hard to navigate.
A disorganized guide but with enough information for readers to cherry-pick the most useful tips.