10 great novels set within the music industry

[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. -AC]

The first novel I read about the music industry — or at least about a band — was Cotton Candy, a 45-cent purchase made in junior high through the Scholastic Book Club. It told the story of a bunch of young teens who form a pop group and end up facing off against a denim-and-leather rock band in some kind of battle of the bands. It was also one of those after-school movies written by — wait for it — Ron Howard with help from his brother Clint. Ron also served as director.

Both the book and the movie were, well, not good. The dude fronting the rock band was especially grating as they played a terrible version of I Shot the Sheriff. (Fast-forward to about 6:35 in this clip to see what I mean.)

That book and movie soured me on the whole idea of novels about rock bands and stories set in the recorded music industry. But about 20 years ago, the genre suddenly evolved. The writing got better. The stories became more compelling. And writers had a much better grasp of how the world of music worked.

With fall beckoning (and perhaps another COVID-19 lockdown) looming, here are 10 music industry-related novels. They’re all pure fiction and highly entertaining.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

2 thoughts on “10 great novels set within the music industry

  • September 21, 2020 at 10:13 am
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    You or your readers should check out Year Zero, by Robert Reid, a fun little sci-fi novel exploring intergalactic challenges with our copyright laws

    Reply
  • September 22, 2020 at 3:50 pm
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    If you enjoyed Utopia Avenue you and other readers of the blog may want to hunt down a copy of “Glimpses” by Lewis Shiner. It’s about a veteran of failed garage bands and a tape deck that records lost albums. Much like “Utopia Avenue” it is focused on the 1960s.

    Reply

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