Everybody wants to tell their story. I think that I am not exception on that. The hardest part is deciding where to start. I think it would be best to go back in time to the moment in which I was 17 years old. The world through the eyes of that young man is quite different than what it is in the age of forty-seven.

I was a promising baseball player. Music, of all options, seemed a least likely option, not to mention a career as a contract lawyer or an artist manager. If there is anything to go by my father, our family shouldn’t have a sense of rhythm. However, something made me choose the music – as well as the jurisprudence. I got some hands on John Grisham book The Firm. Reading that book inspired the career with the law – though not quite in accordance with the script.

I noticed at the beginning of my career, while working with the artists, record companies and other music business players, how important the agreements and intellectual property rights can be. The kind of thing that seems unfamiliar causes uncertainty. This naturally began to appear in the study plan. Law school is a fine school. It gives the opportunity to tailor your study plan so that it best supports your future endeavors. In my case, it was the ability to work as a manager.

During my studies I got an interesting bundle of contracts that one of my artists got downloaded online. Their origin was confirmed in the United States. When I started to look at that material in more detail, I noticed to receive a very broad overview of the US music business contracts. Although I did not yet understood the importance of them yet, or any of its future sights, I took the material collected.

The career as a manager had already going on for some time, I found again those agreements. I began to learn them better. I have to admit that the initial felt was pretty frustrating. After all, the material in question was from a whole different culture where I used to live.

I still don’t know how I came up with an idea to start write a study book about the music business. It was year 1999. It was a half-joke to send a letter to all book publishers I knew. Edita Publishing got that letter and called me to an interview next week. We enter into a publishing contract without even a decent script. I  realized later how much that moment changed my plans for the future. I really was not ready to be a writer – I didn’t even associated myself as such. The first three month I mainly organized the Post-It notes in my studio. Miraculously, I got finished the script, which was also adopted by my publisher. Time well done, because I did not even fully comprehended what the real script should look like.

The result was, say, reasonable. Despite of the lack of necessary experience, it was good in structure. However, the book sold enough to make the next step happen. It was the first book on the topic of all time in Finland. I think because of that I got many things forgiven. I got my publisher persuaded that there is a need for the sequel. At this point, I began to focus on the issue a little better. I took up again those agreements that I mentioned earlier. It followed a systematic translation – first literally and then adapting to the Scandinavian legal culture translation. Bringing that content towards that perspective and needs was the biggest challenge of the work.

The sequel became more assertive. My publisher acquired a bunch of university professors to evaluate my performance. This increased my confidence and courage. The sequel also had a Second Edition. At that time also the first artists of mine started to join the foreign markets. The following years passed by with their affairs. However, I never stopped writing. In 2010, together with my colleague Jone Nikula, I released an updated version on the laws of the music business – this time for another Publisher.

In 2013, as I drove one of my artists to a Tokyo Flight to have a show in Japan, I decided to start gradually to work on one of my biggest dreams – to begin to write in English. I logged in to the University again. How fortunate to me, the old English language teacher of mine was still in the house. He agreed to take me in to carry out my training, in conjunction with the first and second year students. When I was still additionally having a right to attend all the international courses at Turku Law School, I got the needed repetition for the contract law and intellectual property rights.

Now, after all this, I have two manuscripts in my hands. At last, I have written down the things that I’ve always wanted to say. Unlike with the earlier production, I have been able to concentrate on structuring without major distractions.  I deliberately paused for management to get the necessary peace of work. It was that one book came in two. I would have never imagined for it to take almost four years. At least I got my batteries charged. Now it is just nice to continue with all kinds of management and its legal side.

UPDATE – the book series was supplemented as a trilogy. The Essence of the Music Business:Strategy was published in May 2019. And there is more to come.

March, 4th, 2020




Mika Karhumaa: Musiikkibisnes – kevyt musiikki ammattina ja liiketoimintana (Edita Publishing 2000)

Mika Karhumaa: Musiikkibisnes 2 – sopimukset kommentaareineen (Edita Publishing 2002)

Mika Karhumaa: Musiikkibisnes 2 – sopimukset kommentaareineen (Edita Publishing 2004)

Mika Karhumaa w/ Jone Nikula: Musiikki Liiketoimintana (Teos Publishing 2010)

Mika Karhumaa: Boost – Managementin FAQ (MK 2014)

Mika Karhumaa: The Essence of the Music Business – Contracts ( MK 2017 )

Mika Karhumaa: The Essence of the Music Business  – Philosophy (MK 2018)

Mika Karhumaa: The Essence of the Music Business – Strategy (MK 2019)

Mika Karhumaa: The Essence of the Music Business – Contracts, 2nd Edition (MK 2019)