June 3rd, 2012

He does. He’s an asshole. He’s tough, and mean.

But mostly, he sucks because he thinks of and does things that everyone else wishes that they could think of and do. He does crazy and makes it seem brilliant. He wraps other people’s dumb up in bacon, deep fries it, serves it with a side of awesome that makes the rest of the world look really bad.

Just recently he created a hugely hilarious and profound Kickstarter campaign, partially to fund completion of Band:Smart, partially to buy back his rights and partially to continue proving that punk is about making people THINK.

Here’s what Martin had to say about education:

My second book is called “welcome to the music business…..you’re FUCKED!’ building on a lecture I have been doing and the REAL surprising response that people KNOW they are, and actually prefer being told exactly how things are rather than having it sugar coated. I volunteer occasionally at a liberal arts high school for ‘at risk’ youth – MG21 in Madison – and one scene is indelibly etched on my brain – I left a copy of WTTMBYF’d on a table while i was talking to their teacher – I turned around to witness a fight – not a full on fight fight -but to and fro –  gimme gimme gimme action – over a BOOK! – that was it. sorry to the seats of higher learning that cant take it, the libraries that wont allow it and anyone else that has a problem with it – game over. education, real education wins.

I love working with Martin. I love that he can take the ordinary and make it truly extraordinary. I love that we can disagree and fight, and come out the other side closer, stronger, and even more ready to change the world.

So, Martin? If you are listening, I say MARTIN ATKINS SUCKS!

He does. He makes me work hard. He makes me think, and makes me want more.

Keep up the awesome work.

April 6th, 2012

People talk about thinking outside the box.  Whatever.  My students and clients don’t even know there is a box.


In the last few weeks, here’s what creativity has shown up in my inbox.


Martin Atkins pledges “No More Students Eaten by Tigers” at Madison Media Institute.


The Outfit roller derby is shooting the pilot for Derby Little Secrets, their new tv show. Stay tuned!


And a former student created fractal pizza.

I couldn’t ask for more.



March 10th, 2012

I’ve been working on a Mindfulness Meditation exercise called “Leave No Trace”. The exercise is to pick one area of your house and make sure that every time you enter that space, or use that space, you leave it in such a way that your best friend, husband, roommate, etc, would not know you had been there. So, in the kitchen – wash the dishes you used AND put them away. In the laundry room – finish the job! Fold an put away the clothes rather than leave them in the dryer or a laundry basket. You get the point…

As I have been doing this, someone said, “You should leave things BETTER than when you found them.” I thought about it, and I disagree. Your intention should be to leave no trace. For example, if I come to stay at your house, and fill your fridge and freezer with yummy things I cooked for you, some might see that as leaving your kitchen better than I found it. But, if someone did that in my house, that would leave me without the groceries I need for my daughter’s snacks at school and the groceries I need for my husband’s restricted diet. Is that better?

As a band, or artist, or office employee, what does it look like to LEAVE NO TRACE? As a friend, parent, child, bandmate? Well, I have some ideas.

What if a band made sure that when they left a gig the stage was clear, all flyers, stickers, CDs and empties were put away or disposed of before load out?

What if your posters were taken down and the cables and mics and stands you borrowed were neatly put away – even if that is just to the side of the stage?

What if your co-workers never needed to empty your trash or recycling? And your mug was always washed and put away.

What if your friends did not need to worry about the emotional baggage you dropped and then blew off?

What if your hotel maid only had to replace the linens and change the bag in your trash can?

Instead of focusing on BETTER, why not focus on what comes before better.

I have found that I am more aware of every dish and spoon I casually reach for. I have found that I am becoming more attentive the little “I get to it laters”. And I have found an extra hour in my day that I am not spending cleaning up old messes and old dishes. Weird, hunh? So, maybe BETTER is just about making sure I LEAVE NO TRACE.

December 11th, 2011

It’s that season. The one that most people either dread or participate in with such enthusiasm that it kills the cute of puppies. That one. THE HOLIDAYS. So, let’s stay away from anything to do with that and talk about my amazing clients, and what’s new in the Misery Loves Co family.

Martin Atkins – His book Welcome to the Music Business – You’re Fucked is picking up rave reviews from fun places like The Jazz Lawyer, The Rumpus and Billboard.biz . Stay tuned for a kickstarter campaign as Martin is finishing up Band:Smart (the sequel to Tour:Smart).

Carlo Matos – With poems published at killauthor and ragazine, his second poetry book coming out soon (set your Google search for “Counting Sheep til Doomsday”), and his scholarly Ibsen’s Foreign Contagion  soon to be released, Carlo is making quite a name for himself. Check out his first book, A School For Fisherman.

Judy Wexler – Back from her East Coast performances at Zoellner Arts  and The Blue Note, Judy is ready to welcome a new year and some great new gigs. Stay tuned for announcements on where and when.  She also has a regular gig at Yoshi’s.

Doug McGovern – In September, Doug published a paper on an unknown set of photos of General Robert E Lee in stereo (3-D). You can read the paper as a pdf on his site.

ToyBlock Music is in the process of mastering a few singles, reworking the overall business plan, and trying to find ways to bring great music to as many kids as is humanly possible. Stay tuned for the release of Itsy Bitsy Spider and some additional news next year.

Tortoise and Panda completed another craft fair season and is looking forward to some time off, and maybe some “Beat the Blahs” sales in January and February. Rice Sack Animals and Yarn Necklaces were added to the line of products in 2011.

Thanks for your continued support and friendship. We look forward to helping you in any way we can in the coming year.

November 22nd, 2011

So often, the things that stop us are hard. Hard to face, hard to fix, hard to talk about, hard to live. …

I refuse to accept that. I refuse to be stopped. People often ask me what I do for a living, and I answer that I consult and help small businesses in the arts succeed at being awesome. But, I think what I really do is smash things. I take other people’s problems and smash them into tiny enough pieces that they can be cleaned up.

Last week, I spent 2 hours unraveling a lost account, and set of previously purchased, but unused ISBN numbers for an author. I did that by calling a phone number (which I had to dig to find) and telling the person on the other end that I had no idea how to resolve this, and would take any help he could give me. I also facilitated planned a Thanksgiving dinner that includes turkey, elk and homemade past. And I cleaned a house including finding over 20 bags and boxes of things that could go to Goodwill. None of that was hard for me.

So what is hard for me? To understand why other people let things be hard. I could tell all kinds of other stories about what I did last week. I could ask everyone to cut me some slack because life is hard and I’m coping with a lot. But, why? It’s my life. It’s not hard, it’s what is. I don’t need slack. I need success. I need love, and work, and laughter. And none of that is hard.

A former client used to always say, “But this is what is!” And I would agree. For her, it was drama, tragedy after tragedy and too much to do. For me, it is what it is. It’s my life. I like it better when it’s easy. I like it when I can tell a client, “I didn’t get to you today. I’ll try again tomorrow.” And the client say, “Okay!” I like it when I look around and see my choices as I made them and life as it presents itself. I like it when even in the darkest moments, I still have a choice, and an attitude of YES!This isn’t hard. What’s hard is to fight that. What’s hard is to accept drama as a way of life. What’s hard is to wait to for everything to explode instead of just smashing it into the bits I can deal with.

So, as we approach the hard months of the year… THE HOLIDAYS, and then we approach the other hard months of the year… THE COLD MONTHS, I am going to find a bigger hammer, and I am going to smash and smash and smash. And I am going to laugh when pieces fly off. Got anything you want me to smash?



I got up from publishing this post to do the dishes, and knocked this over.  OOOPS!  But hilarious – thanks for the laugh Universe!

November 16th, 2011

I was going to write a brilliant blog post. One that explained copyright, marketing and the secrets of the Universe all in one. A blgo post that was destined to change the course of all humankind…

I didn’t. The life and times of MLC and Joanna QL did not agree with that plan. Instead, you get a list. That’s right, a list of ten things. Ten tools I have used this week to survive, grow and live.

1. It’s always something.
There will always be drama if you want it. There will always be a reason to freak out, smoke, eat crap, yell at someone if you look hard enough.
There will always be a friend, a break, a shoulder. There will always be a smile, a gift, a soothing moment if you allow it.

2. Don’t save things until the last minute.
If it’s really important, it can’t wait. If it waits, it may not happen. Or, it may happen and bring with it drama, tears and misunderstandings.

3. Be nicer than you think you can.
Everyone has a story. Everyone has burdens. Everyone has something they are not saying. You don’t know what that it. So, cut that jerk in your life some slack and be nice. And recognize that someone else is doing the same for you.

4. Say thank you and mean it.
Do it. You can change the world.

5. Realize that living what is will always be more powerful than living what I wish it was but isn’t.
We all want it do be different. But it isn’t. And looking at what is – there is some seriously amazing stuff in our lives. Live that.

6. There is always more.
Another opportunity will come. Another dollar can be made. Another friend will be there.

7. Sleep helps everything.
Try it. Put down the struggle, the stress, the drama and sleep for eight to ten hours. Betcha it’s not as bad as it was before you slept.

8. Say thank you and mean it.
Do it again. Keep changing the world.

9. Ask for what you need and want.
It can be yours. But you have to ask first.

10. Knowledge can never be anything other than it is.
Theory will not fix a problem, but might give you a place to start. Answers only apply to specific questions. Information can label and define, but does not create. Learn, absorb, and then go live. REALLY live. With all of your allness.

November 3rd, 2011

How often do you practice being awesome? How often do you strive for more, better, the best? How many times a day, do you wish your life was different?

Are you doing anything about it?

Here’s some great advice:

“Start coming up with ideas about what else you can do. It might mean multiple streams of income instead of just one. It might mean freelance. But get your idea muscle in motion. You need to exercise it because it ALREADY atrophied. 10 ideas a day for six months and write down what all the next steps of each idea are. Eventually you will be an idea machine.” (James Altucher)

Another “truth” is that the more time you can invest into your artistic life, the better it will be. Your first three books will probably suck. The first 15 songs you record will be no good. But that fourth book or song number 16 may have the seeds of something special. So if you don’t know what’s going to work, you need to keep trying things. That takes time. But that’s helpful to you because you also need time to improve. That’s why one of the most important skills you can have as an artist (or arts organziation) is the ability to survive long enough to improve. (Mission Paradox)

Negative thinking creates negative results.  Positive thinking creates positive results.  Period. (Marc and Angel Hack Life)

So, what are you going to do about it?

October 19th, 2011

Little Misery is obsessed with Sesame Street. So, I found some music, put it on the iPod and we had our soundtrack for the afternoon. The favorite song from that CD is “You Gotta Put Down the Duckie, if you Want to Play the Saxophone”.

Excuse me, Mr. Hoots,
I hate to bug a busy bird,
But I want to learn the sax,
And I need a helpful word-
I always get a silly squeak
When I play the blues.

At my house, we have monkeys everywhere. Little Misery LOVES her monkeys and includes them in all of her daily activities. They brush teeth, take baths, play, go to school, ride bikes, cook, and just about everything else. And they get in the way as much as they help.

We had been singing the duckie song non-stop for days, and then Lil Mis changed the lyrics.

You didn’t hear a word I said,
You gotta get it through your head.

Put down the Monkey

If you want to give the cat his food!

Wow.  I watched as Lil Mis started using this silly song to help her make choices that allow her to grow. Put down the Monkey if you wanna draw the picture…. put down the monkey if you wanna find the puzzle piece… put down the monkey if you wanna wash both hands…

So, what’s my lesson from this? How many of us have a monkey, duckie, blankie, issue, etc. that we won’t put down? I know I do. I am afraid of failure. I am afraid to make the wrong choice. So, this week, I am putting down my monkey and make all the mistakes I can with TWO hands.

You gotta put down the duckie,
Put down the duckie,
Put down the duckie,
Yeah, you gotta leave the duck alone.
You gotta put down the duckie,
Put down the duckie,
Put down the duckie,
If you wanna play the saxophone!

October 16th, 2011

Lately, my life has been challenging. I have been balancing many things personal, professional and spiritual all at the same time. I have faced car challenges, health challenges, family difficulties, and the same economy everyone else is fighting. I have been tired, and as the weather changes to cold, my body hurts more.

I have been meaning to blog more. I set myself the goal of once a week. And it’s been over a month since my last post. I said I would start getting up at 6AM everyday to start my day with meditation and exercise. I have only done that about every third day. I set the intention of more quality time with my daughter. Last week, I had to hire the nanny an extra day just to get a minute to myself to figure out what was next. And then I managed to blow up my own website.

And, through it all, one thing runs through my mind….

Thank you, I AM GRATEFUL. I live in abundance. Abundance of spirit, love, knowledge, resources, and friends. Abundance of food, opportunity, choice and love. And that, changes everything.

Car troubles turned into a new car, and a donation to a program that will fix the old car and make sure that a single mom has transportation this winter. My website crashing allowed me to learn more skills, have a conversation with a great friend, and reset my procedures for managing my site.

Economic troubles are my opportunity to evaluate my methods, desires and intentions in my businesses. Health difficulties are a way to focus on eating right, exercise, sleeping well, and spending quiet time doing nothing with my family. And family difficulties are the best chance ever to clear my internal baggage and be who and what I want to be.

I see so much negativity. But, I choose not to feel it. I want more. I want the abundance. I cannot fix so many things I see, and so much that is happening around me. But, I can stop and say thank you. I am grateful.

So, thank you to all my clients, friends, readers, and fellow travelers. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your lives, and thank you for being a part of mine. Thank you for reading, I am grateful.

September 6th, 2011

Earlier today, my friend Elle posted this rant on her facebook page.  I liked it so much, I asked if we could use it as a guest post.  She said yes.  Why should you read it?  Well, Elle works at Reggies in Chicago booking all the bands and entertainment that comes through their two stages.   She has had this job longer than many bands (that want to play there) have been together.  She has had this job longer than some of these bands have been playing their instruments.  She knows what she is doing, and she is fair.  So, maybe it’s worth listening to why clubs insist on certain rules?  I think so.  Thanks for the post Elle!


A live music venue is a BUSINESS. Reggies counts on the bands that play to bring people. We aren’t like Legends where 150 people come in every night just to hear the Blues. We are a place where people come to watch their fave bands. I CAN NOT book 4 bands that are all out of town or have no draw. I have to ask about draw because it makes sense to mix it up. Maybe put an up and coming band on the bill with some bands that draw so that more people get a chance to see them. Definitely book bands with a draw with an out of towner. NEVER stick an out of towner on first or last when they have no fans. For once in your life musicians, think about how that would make you feel. You’ve all been stuck with lousy slots when playing out of town. Don’t try to make me do that to the out of town band.

When it comes to payout at Reggies Music Joint. We’re more than fair. We give 100% of the door to the bands, plus free drinks plus half off food for locals and free food for out of towners. Most venues take the first couple hundred out for production fees (which is understandable in a larger venue). We don’t. If people don’t come to see you, you’re not gonna get money. If we like you and you’re not local, the owner will often throw them some gas money out of pocket because he’s a great guy. It’s all a numbers game. We make our money off the bar. You make your money off the door. If it’s a free show, we give you a cut of the bar. Quit asking for a cut of the bar on top of the door. If we only make 2k at the bar and our basic overhead for the night is $800, that really isn’t much to keep an entire business like Reggies open! You would not believe what monthly operating costs are to keep a giant business open. You bitch about your $100+ utility bills. Imagine being responsible for 100 employees livelihood and an entire building/utilities and bands.

Now, some of you people are professional musicians and want to get paid to play 7 nights a week. If you’ve got a draw, that’s great. I CAN NOT pay you to come play Reggies for 4 hours for $1000 if no one is gonna come to see you to play to the 30 people that are already sitting there. They’ll be there no matter what. They’re our regulars. We want you to bring NEW blood to the bar. Help us build new regulars and a great new relationship with us.

Another thing that sucks is when we’ll have a big headliner that wants $2000. We believe in them and book them with local support to help promote. We don’t make enough money at the door to pay the headliner and we end up giving support like $ for playing. It isn’t a lot, but, it’s a support slot on a national show-which we lost money on. What do you expect? Sometimes you take the bad for a chance to play with a really cool band. A lot of times, the headliner is the one who decides how much we can give support. They may say we can only budget $200 in for support and then the money after that goes to them. Did you know that? We NEVER keep any money from the door. EVER. It all goes to the bands. So if you feel shorted, I’m sorry. It’s because we had to pay the headliner and we do our best to make sure you got something too.

How is it possible for a local band with 5 members to not bring ANYONE? Did you promote? I find it hard to believe that not one friend or family member or fan would make the trek out to see you. It isn’t like were in the middle of no where. We’re right off the red line. This happens every, single, night. So it can’t always be blamed on the weather. It is your responsibility to reach out to the people you know and your fans to promote each and every show. Reggies shells out thousands and thousands of dollars for the promo we do in the Reader and Illinois Entertainer and things like that. We need you to do your end too. Doing a status update about the show the day of, is hardly fucking promoting.

What else can I bitch about or talk about?

If there is something happening at a club that you don’t seem to understand, feel free to ask the club why things are going down like that. Once you understand the reason behind it, maybe you’ll be more understanding. Or maybe the club sucks and doesn’t treat bands fairly. I can’t speak for all clubs. Only myself.
You guys have no idea the shit I have to go thru on a daily basis to make sure these shows are put together. I do my best and I have always fought to keep things fair for the bands. At Big Horse, where bands were not respected in the least and where I did NOT get paid at all for booking, (I was allowed to bartend and keep my tips, not even getting an hourly wage!) I would often give the touring bands some of my tips so that they wouldn’t leave empty handed.

I hope this helps you understand that we’re not trying to be cheap bastards. We’re not trying to cheat you. We’re just trying to stay afloat and not lose money.

Don’t go bitching about how I wrote such a long rant. You’re the one who chose to read it. I’ll continue to do my best. To try to put together cohesive line ups. To make sure people are treated fairly. I admit, I’m not perfect. Sometimes there are miscommunications and bands cancel at the last minute or maybe I forgot that you told me that you can only play after 11 pm. I’m only human and humans fuck up.

You – please do your best to promote, make sure people come to the show and show up in a timely manner for sound check/load in.

That’s all.