When attorney John P. Kellogg decided to write “Taking Care of Your Music Business,” it was his intention to take a very daunting subject matter and simplify it. He succeeded.

“It isn’t rocket science, but these contracts are long and each word means something, so I felt that it was important for these artists who are coming up to understand what their lawyers are dealing with,” said Kellogg. “An educated musician is my best client.”

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to follow along. His work as a professor—he teaches at Berklee College of Music—certainly shined through.

Most of the book breaks down into layman terms the different contracts (exclusive recording artist, exclusive songwriter, co-publishing and administration and personal management) that are often presented to uninformed artists. We’ve seen what happens to artists who sign contracts without understanding the law jargon. They end up broke even after selling millions of records and touring for years. The book also delves into how the evolution of how music is bought, sold and shared affects where the flow of money goes.

Kellogg’s love of music first manifested itself on stage during his days of singing with the funk group Cameo. Soon, something else would peak his interest when he began reading articles in the Black press. He was inspired to go to law school when he read in Jet magazine that renowned entertainment attorney Larkin Arnold became the head of the Black Music Division at Capitol Records.

“As a performer, I recognized that it was important to not only know what’s going on, on stage, but more importantly knowing what’s going on backstage,” said Kellogg.

During the 1970s, when Kellogg decided to study entertainment law, it was mostly a field for private practitioners to represent artists at production companies. His father, who was also a lawyer, was not thrilled about his son’s decision to go into an area of law that was in its infancy.

“Of course, my father would have loved for me to have gotten into a stable area of law, but I wanted to venture into this new area, and I felt well suited for it,” said Kellogg.

It was a huge risk, because it used to be almost taboo to have a Black attorney, especially one without any experience, representing anyone in entertainment.

“At that time, many Black entertainers didn’t want to have Black lawyers,” said Kellogg. “They felt that if it was white, it was right.”

But fresh out of law school, Kellogg found one group that was willing to deviate from the norm. The O’Jays saw the potential in the Black, young, inexperienced law school graduate.

“They said, ‘Let’s give this kid a chance,’ and they did. That’s what really started my career,” said Kellogg.

He has represented influential acts from different generations of music, from the O’Jays and Gerald Levert to members on Shady/Aftermath Records and Bad Boys Records.

“We have to make sure that creators of the music and Black entertainers, who have always been the creators of new musical forms, are protected and understand the value of what I call, ‘powerful products’—those great songs, recordings and performances—so that we can benefit from it financially,” said Kellogg.

Understanding the finances of business is not only important for artists and producers. One of the biggest misconceptions within the Black community—among both new artists and fans—is that getting into the music business is an automatic ticket to wealth. It’s a notion that frustrates Kellogg.

“They think that if you have one big record, get a contract or win ‘American Idol’ or ‘The Voice,’ then you’ve got it made for the rest of your life,” said Kellogg. “It’s really not true. That just gives you the opportunity and doesn’t develop the kind of longstanding career that will enable you to make a good amount of money.”

With all the things that he’s been able to accomplish—attorney, author, professor and assistant chair of music business management at Berklee College of Music—if you ask him if he misses being on stage, he is quick to say, with a laugh, that he is on stage every day when he teaches classes. His new pursuit has been teaching massive open online courses, which are free on the website edx.org.

“I’m really just trying to do what good entertainers do: move and connect with the audience,” said Kellogg.

“Taking Care of Your Music Business” can be purchased at Amazon.com. For more information on Kellogg, please visit kellogglaw.com and search for him at online.berklee.edu.