“Tour: Smart” - By Martin Atkins
“Tour: Smart” - By Martin Atkins
Book Blurb & Martin Atkins Q&A:
This book is a distillation of Martin Atkins' 30+ years in the business, from backing strippers at the age of 11 on a Sunday afternoon at Newcastle Labour Club, to appearing on ABC’s American Bandstand and BBC TV’s live Old Grey Whistle Test, to touring the world with Public Image Ltd, Killing Joke, a spell contributing to Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. Atkins formed the bands Pigface, Murder Inc, The Damage Manual, and Brian Brain. He is the owner of Invisible Records and The Mattress Factory Recording Studio. In addition, he teaches The Business of Touring at Colombia College Chicago, conducts his own seminars, guest lectures on many topics around the world, and is a weekly columnist for the SuicideGirls. Atkins married Katrina in 1996 to and is the proud father of their three boys, Ian, Harrison, and Sidney.
With contributions from 100+ top experts and industry professionals on: mistakes to avoid, myths about touring, sex, drugs, software, marketing, better sound, opening bands, sponsorships, immigration, real stories, booking yourself, 61-proven strategies for a better show, and a combined 500-years of experience that will make a difference to your band tomorrow!
That’s right . . . Hundreds of years of experience, triumphs and catastrophes crammed into over 550-pages from: Recognized educators, managers, crew, journalists, venues, publicists, musicians, merchandisers, tour managers, accountants, immigration attorneys, bus companies, sponsors, Al Gore's national campaign scheduler, radio personalities, sex advisors, artists and professionals who are out there doing it . . . and more.
Including a stunning array of luminaries and lunatics from the real world of touring:
Henry Rollins, Cynthia Plastercaster, Zim Zum, Kevin Lyman, Steve Blush, Chris Connelly, Curse Mackey, Jason Pettigrew, Chris Payne, Jeff McClusky, Nixon Suicide, and The Enigma from in and around such revered institutions as: Time Out Chicago, University of Southern California, Alternative Press, House of Blues, Jam Productions, Adrenaline PR, Q101, CMJ, Lollapalooza, Columbia College Chicago, PETA, Senator’s Coaches, The SuicideGirls, Jagermeister, Revolver Magazine, Woodstock Tattoo and Body Arts Festival, The Metro Chicago, Bottom of the Hill San Francisco, Presonus Audio, DSG Accounting, Plastichead Distribution, SmokingGun.com, the Vans Warped Tour . . . and more
Not to mention chapters on:
Planning, Routing, Marketing, Booking Yourself, Promoters, How to Be a Better Opening Band, Why Tour?, Press and Publicists, Radio, Sponsorships, Merchandising, Revenue Streams, Using the Web, Creating Your Own Event, Building Blocks, 42 Strategies for a More Successful Show, Excel Basics, Agents, Buy-Ons, Management, Guest Lists, Crew/Production, How to Get a Better Sound, Scenery, Sex, Drugs, Personalities, Software That's as Hard as Nails, Accounting, Settlement, Contracts, Transportation, Health Tips, The Future of Touring, Stories from the Front Line, Good Advice from Baaad People, Being a Grrrl on the Road, Case Studies, China, and even more.
trakMARX - How did you come up with the initial idea for "Tour: Smart"?
MA - I started teaching ‘the business of touring' at Columbia College in Chicago 4-years ago - kind of by accident - I was producing yet another 4 or 5-band package tour: 3-busses, two-trailers, 35-people, 60,000-promotional postcards 100plus-street team leaders across the country - and I went up there to try and get some more help for the office - after I finished my presentation about the up-coming tour they said: 'great, when can you start!’ It was horrible timing, we were 6-weeks away from the tour - and the class started two days after my first meeting - but I knew it was a great opportunity to see what’s up in that world - so I did it - and made part of the first classes a kind of hands on - 'look at me - I haven't slept in three days', kind of experience - there wasn't enough time for the last two classes before the tour - so I brought the whole class out to a sold out show at the Metro in Chicago and started the class at sound-check - pulling in some of the crew guys to talk about the previous 5-weeks - and encouraging the class to smell the crew!.
...anyway, I looked around for a text book to help with the lessons and structure... there wasn't one. One of the students had bought the book recommended by the previous professor... it was written in 1964 - so then I added in a bit about students needing to PAY ATTENTION - classes are expensive!
...then I looked around for books - starting with some Billboard books about touring - but they were all written by lawyers whose unabashed main piece of advice was... to get a lawyer..! - one actually said 'the most important creative decision that faces your band is... hiring the right attorney’ - are you fucking shitting me!!! It made me furious! One book was talking about problems involved in renting your own private plane... I left a message with the author that I was going to punch him in the face!
...all of the worst books seem to be highly recommended by David Geffen... oh yeah, the fucking DIY guru himself!
trakMARX - How long has it taken to come to fruition?
MA - Well, 4-years from the idea, 2.5-years of solid work, a lifetime of mistakes - and just getting back up and trying not to get hit in the nuts again.
trakMARX - Did you have any problems finding a publisher/distro?
MA - I published the book myself, it seemed like we had most of the marketing in place, so it seemed like a no brainer. I've been all over the country guest-lecturing and realised that this is a sorely needed book, so I was ok with the investment/risk. We just signed a distribution deal with IPG here in Chicago to distribute the book.
trakMARX - Are you pleased with the finished article?
MA - First off, with so many things going on, I'm just very, very happy that it exists. I fucking wish I'd had this 20 years ago (oooops, 30!) - it would have saved an awful lot of problems if I'd been able to give one of these to every band that signed to the label... but, yeah, I'm very happy with it... there are too many illustrations/pics, way too many FUCKS (166)... and even a CUNT... but, that’s life on the road baby, get used to it!
trakMARX - Where's the best place for punters to access a copy?
MA - www.tstouring.com is the best place to order from right now, official release date is Sept 07 - then you'll be able to get it from Amazon and local bookstores too.
trakMARX - What next for Martin Atkins?
MA - Mixing the music I made in China - China Dub Sound System - its fucking awesome - from Tibetan singers to scratch DJs, and everything in between... luvvin’ it! Also mixing tons of other great stuff: The Countdown - and more bands from China - Snapline! (you can check them out on chinamusicnetwork on myspace) Working on a new PiL coffee table book, another:smart book about bands, keeping busy with My Suicide Girls band advice column and releasing a new sound library through cakewalk in just a few weeks..! And I have a retrospective gallery show in NYC for the week starting August 15th at Fuse Gallery, bits of BIG art, some memorabilia, some un-seen photos from my time with PiL etc...
“I'm super impressed with the final product!It's really an outstanding publication - content rich and beautifully produced.Again, I'm so pleased to have been included, and have just ordered three additional copies from your website for other friends!”
Jade Dellinger - author of books on Devo and Kraftwerk.
“Congrats on an absolutely terrific book!! Finally, one that is the real f*****g story - and not some fairy tale.”
Jim Coumo Ryko Distribution
“The book is fucking brilliant. I cannot believe the sheer volume of content in this thing.”
Michael Gallina - Field Rep
“This is the bible! Martin Atkins is a genius.”
Sarah Dope – model, merchandiser, instigator.
“I was impressed with how encompassing it is and the variety of its focus. Many younger people compelled by our business will find this to be a tremendous aide in contemplating the complexities, challenges and rewards of the live touring industry. I can tell it isa labour of love come to life for you, Martin, but even more, a piece of art about our industry.”
Steve Traxler - Jam Theatrical Productions
“I received your book today, and I think it is terribly interesting and a must have for any band. I'm not in a band nor do I plan on starting one, but this is so interesting. Tour:Smart is absolutely brilliant.”
Greg Z – Field Rep, CA
“Upon my initial thumb-through, I could not think of anything that did not get included. I'm on page 40-something now and can confirm that all subjects so far have been inundated with information. This is like the richest chocolate cake for the eyes and mind. No stone appears to have been unturned. Two or three re-reads will definitely be in order to soak it all up.”
Jeremy - Myspace
Martin Atkins – tMx 30 – 07/07
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