Taking a look at Seattle's musical genealogy is like reading out of the Book of Matthew: There are so many leaves on the family tree, such a litany of who begat who begat who begat, that a little slice of local history takes on biblical proportions. It's an appropriate metaphor: This city's got its heroes, tyrants, exiles, prophets, and total nutcases. Add on top of all the legends the new bands arriving daily, and you get more cultural ins and outs than a Gomorrhan nightclub.

Which is where, not surprisingly, we step in.

As music becomes more of a solitary pursuit, with Amazon.com replacing record shops and MySpace friends as important as real ones, a lot of hand-me-down wisdom slips through the cracks—or heads down to Portland. For the past five years, The Stranger has published a Musicians' Directory to catalog the city's wildly diverse music scene. This year we've gone a step further and produced a super-practical handbook of all things musical in Seattle, a rock-n-roll bible for both the true believers and the skeptical newcomers. Like the good book, it's got a lot of practical, straightforward lessons and a lot of utter bullshit (from which you can learn practical, straightforward lessons).

From booking shows to picking the right groupie, we went to the industry experts to get the real info you need to get your band to the Promised Land. We spoke to three of Seattle's production gurus for some nuts-and-bolts tips on how to make the best possible recording and uncovered the secret to actually making money making music. These pages are populated by label honchos, venue bookers, gutter punks, drag queens, superstar DJs, and all the other assorted scoundrels that make a healthy scene.

We also combed through The Stranger's giant Bands Page directory (thestranger.com/bands) to find our favorite young acts working in and around Seattle. The Prime Time Nine and other up-and-coming bands are the future of Northwest music. They share lessons learned and stories gleaned over the last year on the front lines.

No matter how much time you spend at the club, in the studio, or onstage, there's always more to learn. Rock 'n' roll can be heaven or it can be hell. Whichever way you go, the least you can do is go in knowing what to expect.