Tour:Smart and Break the Band

Sheet Music

SXSW Platters

Tour:Smart and Break the Band

by Martin Atkins
Smart Books, 564 pp., $29.95 (paper)

If you're going on tour, this is the best $30 investment you'll ever make. Writing with the sardonic, hard-assed bluster of a drill sergeant, Pigface/PiL drummer Martin Atkins draws on three decades of hard-won music-biz lessons to make an awfully convincing case for the touring-is-war analogy. A van of unknowns rolling into a new town typically has no leverage beyond the goodwill of strangers, but following Atkins' advice on promotion, transportation, tour routing, budgeting, and accounting will help keep a band from becoming its own worst enemy. The book systematically hammers away at fantastic notions of easy success and drives home the reality that perpetuating a music career is an exhausting feat not meant for the weak. In discussing contracts, Atkins doesn't bother with turgid legalese, because all a band really needs to know is that a "guarantee" is anything but. Career scenarios in the underground-rock pantheon are laid out to help acts determine when it makes sense to upgrade from DIY to hired guns. Co-contributors chime in on everything from groupies and fitness to border-crossing. If road-hogging still feels like your life's destiny after reading Tour:Smart, at least you'll know better than to take a dump on the tour bus. (SXSW Music Panel: Tour Smart, Wednesday, March 12, Austin Convention Center, Room 18ABC, noon.)

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