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Soulfunk Publicity’s Journey From Los Angeles to Milwaukee

Dec. 14, 2010
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After working in Los Angeles for nearly four years, Mario Martin recently returned to Milwaukee. Martin brought with him years of public relations experience and his own company, Soulfunk Publicity. Martin, formerly of Narada Records (Virgin/EMI), officially founded the firm in 2009, “out of necessity,” as he describes it. Having been present during the “beautiful time in music right before it crashed,” as well as the industry’s decline, Martin wanted to provide artists with a level of personal attention that has become a rarity—and now he wants to share his experience with Milwaukee.

Why did you come back to Milwaukee?

It was really twofold. It was because of the state of entertainment in Los Angeles, specifically. New York was absorbing a lot of those companies—all of the operations were moving to the East Coast and budgets were just getting slashed in Los Angeles. So that, as well as I’m from Milwaukee, so I wanted to be close to my family, and I had already been gone long enough. So it seemed to be perfect from the business and the personal side of everything.

What are your plans for the future? Is there anything you want to pursue?

I want to be able to give back to the people who helped me… I want to give back to the industry that gave me a chance. So I’ll probably be doing quite a bit of free-lance consulting—“free” being the operative word here. If somebody wants to come to me and ask me, “What can I do for this, that and the other thing?” about a project, all it costs is my time.

How are you taking what you’ve learned at larger companies and applying it to the artists you work with now?

First of all, the thing that I am able to take out of a larger entity—EMI is one of the five largest music labels in the world—I can take out…the professionalism and opinion. I know what does and I know what doesn’t work. There have only been a few projects that I really, really did believe in because they were passion projects and they failed, and they failed because there was a lack of funding.

So you kind of have a good idea of what’s going to work with the right pushes and with the right angles. But from being able to parlay that into 750,000 people versus 4 million people in Los Angeles, the attitude is so much different. People in bands, brands, corporate entities, anybody—you name it, they’re willing to work harder in the Midwest, because that’s just what the Midwest does. It just does better and produces better product.

Photo by Corey Hengen


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