Martin Atkins is the definition of entrepreneurial activity in cultural arts endeavors.
His three decades in the music business spans across genres, borders and industries. Having experience in nearly every aspect of record production and promotion has given Martin a unique perspective not only on where the music industry is currently, but where it is going in the future.
After playing drums in a variety of English bands, Martin auditioned for and subsequently joined Johnny Rotten’s Public Image Limited in 1979. His first contribution to the band was cowriting and performing on the song “Bad Baby” for the revered Metal Box LP. After touring the world with P.i.L and contributing to several more studio albums Martin left the group in 1985. Over the next five years, he played with and managed Killing Joke and toured with Ministry. In 1990, while on tour with Ministry, he formed his own band, Pigface. He also worked with Nine Inch Nails, performing on the Grammy award winning “Wish” and appearing in the “Head like a Hole” video.
Martin began working on the business side of music in 1988 when he formed Invisible Records and then Mattress Factory Studios in 1996. Over two decades Invisible has released over 350 albums and has had placements spanning from the original Miami Vice to Showtime’s Queer as Folk to Robert Altman’s The Company.
Atkins wrote his book Tour:Smart in 2007 and has since spoken around the world at major industry conferences, recognized universities, and nonprofit organizations. His distinguished speaking resume includes: SXSW, Warped Tour, CMJ, New Music Seminar, Unconvention, NAMM, By:Larm, Dfest, USC, Drexel, Virginia Commonwealth University, Full Sail, Weiden + Kennedy, Chicago Cultural Center and many more.
Atkins currently teaches at Millikin University in Decatur, IL and acts as the Music Business Program Coordinator, leading courses on Touring, Advanced Entrepreneurship, Artist and Event Management, and Online Marketing. When he’s not teaching, you can find him on the road, promoting with his third book, Band:Smart, consulting with artists and organizations, or working on his next book, Memories: My Time In and Out of Public Image Ltd.
He is a father of four boys and lives with his wife, Katrina, in Chicago.
“One of the best books (Tour:Smart) on the logistics and strategy of street, local and band marketing.”
– Seth Godin
“I just (finally) finished the book and loved every bit of it. I think it should be required reading for every event planner on earth, not just music!”
– Andy Sernovitz (CEO, GasPedal)
“Best Panel at SXSW 2010”
– Caine O’Rear (American Songwriter)
“Best guidance I’ve seen for emerging musical artists. It is brutally honest, remarkably wise, and extremely helpful.”
– Cool Tools
“Heard you were fantastic! Jim Riswold thinks you are a bloody genius. Who am I to argue. Wish like hell I could have been there!”
– Dan Weiden (Weiden + Kennedy)
“With their chic spectacles and slick audio-visuals, [Jarvis] Cocker and [Martin] Atkins joined a list of rockers who have made the transition from the stage to the lecture circuit, including David Byrne, Lou Reed and Brian Eno.”
– Greg Kot (Chicago Tribune)
“Western civilization needs you…. You are brilliant.”
– Howard Bloom (referring to Martin Atkins)
“Four Stars! The ultimate touring manual. Tackles every conceivable aspect of getting the show on the road in a highly readable style.”
– Kris Needs (MOJO Magazine)
“Finally, a book that’s the real f***ing story and not some fairy tale.”
– Jim Cuomo (President, Ryko Distribution)
“Should be in the car, van, or bus of anyone trying to make it.”
– Trevor Fischer (Illinois Entertainer Magazine)
“Best speaker on the planet.”
– Paul Natkin (Chicago Music Commission)
“Attention Rock Bands – this is your owner’s manual!”
– Joel Selvin (Senior pop critic, San Francisco Chronicle)