How the


Business Works

Since its genesis, Exploration has tasked itself with documenting the intricate components of the music business — one of the most complex, infamous, and influential systems on Earth. 

We wrote How The Music Business Works: 2nd Edition to explain how all the moving parts of this industry work in concert, both literally and figuratively.

Available for FREE now!

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2nd Edition

In 2018, Exploration set course to compile and share the most exhaustive guide on the subject with the first edition of How the Music Business Works. This resulted in a freely available digital e-book enjoyed by more than 15,000 readers. 

However, since the initial release, the tectonics of the music world have continued to shift. Developments such as the passage of the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), the global pandemic, and changes in our digital infrastructure have influenced the way the industry operates.

The second edition accommodates for the changes in the music industry since our last publication as well as supplementing the original material — available for free both digitally and in print. With editorial review from students at Belmont University, Cornell University, MTSU, and UNC Chapel Hill, we are proud to share the most current a comprehensive music industry resource to date.



A Look Inside: Table of Contents

  • What is a Composition?
  • What is a Sound Recording?
  • What is a Songwriter?
  • What is a Producer/Audio Engineer? (NEW)
  • What is a Music Publisher?
  • What is a Record Label?
  •  Major vs. Indie
  • Copyright Registration
  • What are the Exclusive Rights in Copyright Law? (NEW)
  • Types of Music Releases
  • The Team
  • Independent Artist Starter Pack (NEW)
  • What is a Mechanical License?
  • What is a Public Performance License?
  • What is  Synchronization Licensing?
  • What is a Master-Use License?
  • What are Neighboring Rights?
  • What are Lyric Rights?
  • What are Print Rights?
  • What is Music Distribution?
  • What is Rights Management?
  • Do I Need to Report My Royalties on My Taxes? (NEW)
  • How Do I Get Paid For Interactive Streaming?
  • How to Cancel and Change Your Music        Representative? (NEW)
  • The YouTube Guide for the Music Business
  • Organizations and Advocacy Groups for the Music Business
  • What is the Mechanical Licensing Collective? (NEW)
  • What is the Harry Fox?
  • What is Music Reports?
  • What is SoundExchange?
  • What is SONA? (NEW)
  • What is LyricFind? (NEW)
  • What is an ISRC?
  • What is an ISWC?
  • What is an IPI Number? (NEW)
  • What is Work for Hire?
  • What is a Digital Download?
  • How Does the Music Modernization Act Work?
  • What is Non-Interactive Music Streaming?
  • What is On-Demand Music Streaming?
  • Music Industry Contracts
  • What is an Exploration Audit?
  • What are Music Industry Consent Decrees?
  • Investing in the Music Business (NEW)
  • Merchandise Economics (NEW)
  • How to Work Remotely in the Music Business
  • A Bird's Eye View
  • A Glossary of Music Industry Terms

The Music Industry Basics





Your Rights

Music Industry Organizations

Advanced Concepts & Others

Exploration © 2020


Live Music & Touring Basics

  • What is a Booking Agent? (NEW)
  • What is a Promoter? (NEW)
  • What is a Tour Manager? (NEW)
  • What is a Tour Cycle? (NEW)
  • Tour Financing Essentials (NEW)
  • Complete Guide to Opening and Operating a Music Venue (NEW)