Review: The Beginners Guide to the Gospel Music Industry

Monica-CoatesI have read a number of books about the music industry. When anyone would ask me for recommendations, the first book I would tell them to read was usually Everything You Need To Know About The Music Business by Donald Passman. The conversation would usually start and end there. I wouldn’t mention any other books unless prompted to. For my money, there isn’t a better, more complete book on the market. (At least that is what I once thought.)

From now on, when I talk to people about the music industry, two books will enter the conversation (if the person is interested in Gospel music). I just got finished reading The Beginners Guide to the Gospel Music Industry: A Handbook for Aspiring Artists and Industry Executives by Monica Coates. In this book, I found another excellent resource that is full of quality information for anyone interested in any aspect of the gospel music industry.

Here are my overall observations.

What You Get
I’ve read other books before and I found myself constantly asking the question “How does this relate to Gospel?”. With “The Beginners Guide…” you get a complete reference that is dedicated 100% to the Gospel music industry. This book tackles the industry from multiple perspectives, not just the artists’. The author talks about record label executives, radio, management and other media.

Monica Coates does a good job in outlining what sets Gospel apart from the rest of the music industries. There are some key ingredients that aspiring artists, industry executives or media personalities must have. She provides plain and easy to understand explanations about what it takes to make it in the industry.

There are some artists in the past that I thought put out some quality music, but for some reason they were not able to last in the industry. After reading The Beginners Guide to the Gospel Music Industry I immediatelymonica understood why those artists were not able to connect with more of the core Gospel music fans.

The Author
It is obvious that Monica Coates has enjoyed a successful career in the industry. In this book she provides you with a glimpse into her journey through the industry. She makes is clear that a career in gospel doesn’t just happen through talent and prayer. She role models and explains the actual work that is required for success.

Her writing comes off as extremely genuine. It is obvious that she has a true heart for God and for the Gospel music industry. I was impressed with the sincerity she showed throughout the entire book.

What’s Missing?
This book does not get into some of the technical aspects of the industry like calculating royalties and things like that. If that is the type of information you need then you should look to another source to supplement the information that Coates provides.

There wasn’t much specific information about choirs and groups. I often get into discussions with other people about the economics of gospel music as it relates to choirs and groups. I know there are many people that would be interested to know how choir and group members are compensated for CDs and on stage appearances.

Hopefully Coates will write another book that addresses these issues and more.

The Bottom Line
Monica Coates does an excellent job of describing both the natural and spiritual aspects of the Gospel music industry. If you are thinking about being a member of the gospel industry in any way, this is a MUST READ book. In fact, this should be required reading for any label executive and aspiring artist. It will take you a large amount of time and many conversations to accumulate the knowledge that she shares in this book.

In case you haven’t realized by now, I highly recommend this book! To purchase the book and/or to find more information about Monica Coates, you can visit her website:

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  • Walter Jones

    Hey Cliff, great article by the way. I run a facebook group called, “The Gospel Music Industry – Secrets to Succeed in a Digital World” and Monica Coates is one of my friends on facebook. My advice to many of my members and private clients can be a bit too advance at times and through all of the hundreds of books I have on the subject of Music Business in my person library, I have zero on Gospel… well, until NOW.

    I ordered her book on a Monday and that sucker was in my hands on that Wednesday. I opened it and remained glued to it until I was finished. She brought out the Ministry part of Gospel that many don’t talk about. I guess you can say its a basic “101” class on the subject and is needed for those aspiring to delve into their craft. She did a bumper of a job writing this resource and she may never know how many people she has helped in writing it. I give it 2 thumbs up!!

    Sir Walter Jones

  • Aarika

    I just finished this book a couple of weeks ago and I agree that it definitely shows you the basics. It also give great ideas of things that you can do. As Cliff said, I hope that Ms. Coates decides to write another book that will address some of the things there were not discussed in the current book.

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