With over 30 years in the music business, Martin Atkins is perhaps best known as a musician. A member of Public Image Ltd, Killing Joke, Pigface, The Damage Manual, and Murder Inc., as well as having made contributions to Nine Inch Nails and Ministry, Atkins continues to make a name for himself. The author and owner of Invisible Records and Mattress Factory Recording Studios, he can also add producer, columnist, lecturer at Columbia College Chicago, drummer, documentary film maker, DJ, and father to his resume.
Atkins’ discussions during the New Music Seminar last month were candid and entertaining. His panel was complete with profanity and quirky stories intertwined with advice for indie bands trying to make it.
“Nobody gives a fuck about you, your band and your music except you,” he told those in attendance. “It’s not how you’re communicating, but what you’re communicating. Change is constant. Be aware of it and stay on top of it.”
Cleverly titled, “Welcome to the Music Business — You’re Fucked; Problems You Will Face and Simple, Immediate, and Effective Solutions to Overcome Them. Grow Your Brand and Your Band Incrementally,” below are 20 of Atkins tips as told at the conference.
1. Have a fucking strategy
2. Get the fuck out of bed (you’ll be hours ahead of everyone by the end of the month)
3. Practice for catastrophe
4. Free is the new black
5. Get a diverse skill set
6. Stop overplaying your local market
7. Small is the new huge (don’t play arenas, sell out small bars and work your way up)
8. You must have more than one t-shirt for sale
9. Be as good as you need to be
10. Have more than one CD for sale
11. Never take your country to war unless you know the outcome (gas prices, hotel costs — find out where your fans are and go there, don’t just tour the entire country)
12. Pay for tools that work for you
13. Stay on top of new technology (learn social media tools)
14. Don’t be an asshole
15. Have a tip jar
16. Stay with friends (cut down touring costs)
17. Book yourself
18. Learn how to screen print (t-shirts, merch)
19. Play songs people want to hear
20. Make cool shit (create something amazing people want to buy)
Never give up!
For more helpful tips, be sure to follow Martin on Twitter.
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