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Past Panelist/Speaker Bios

Martin Atkins

Martin Atkins

Martin Atkins is the definition of entrepreneurial activity in cultural arts endeavors, his 35+ years in the music business spans across genres and borders and industries. He was a member of Public Image Ltd and Killing Joke. He founded industrial supergroup Pigface, The Damage Manual, and Murder Inc., and has contributed to Nine Inch Nails (for which he has a Grammy) and Ministry. He is the owner of Invisible Records and Mattress Factory Recording Studios (est. 1988). He is the author of “Tour:Smart, Welcome to the Music Business…You’re F*cked!”, “Band:Smart”, and is the new Music Industries Coordinator at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. Martin is a producer, drummer, documentary filmmaker, DJ, and father of four. Whatever the future of entrepreneurial music business education is, you can pretty much bet that he’ll be in the middle of it.

Eddie Sanders

Eddie Sanders

Eddie Sanders is a native Chicagoan who graduated from John Marshall Law School. He is a music attorney at Troglia Kaplan law firm in Chicago, Illinois. Eddie is truly a lawyer for musicians. That’s actually the name of his podcast “Lawyers 4 Musicians” that he does with Josh Kaplan. Eddie trademarked the phrase “Protect & Collect,” meaning artists should be protecting their art and collecting their money.

Last year, for MmX 2019, Eddie spoke at a panel on what he calls his contract crash course. Being an artist manager, operator of music distribution company Freshly Baked Records, and a deejay means Eddie understands the industry from many different points of view. Eddie is your go-to guy for all things music law!

Wendy Day

Wendy Day

Wendy Day is a bonafide badass in the rap game who has worked with Eminem, Lil Wayne, Master P, Twista, Hot Boyz and many more! She founded Rap Coalition, a not-for-profit organization that pulls artists out of bad contracts and helps them become successful. She offers her expertise through panel discussions, seminars, negotiations, mentorships, consultations, etc. She will be a keynote speaker talking about her accomplishments and how you can achieve your goals at the annual Midwest Music Expo.

Gaelynn Lea

Gaelynn Lea

Gaelynn Lea Tressler is an American folk singer, violinist, public speaker and disability advocate from Duluth, Minnesota. She won NPR’s 2016 Tiny Desk Content. In addition to performing, Gaelynn also loves to do speaking engagements about disability, overcoming challenges, and the joy of music. She has a congenital disability called Osteogenesis Imperfects, or Brittle Bone Disease. Gaelynn is a strong voice in the disability community; she uses her music as a platform to advocate for people with disability and to promote positive social change.

2016: NPR Music’s “Tiny Desk Contest” Winner
2014: Duluth News Tribune’s “20 Under 40”
2009: NASS “Medallion Award”
UMD’s “Outstanding Student Organization”
UMD’s “Featherman Award”


Randy Blythe

Randy Blythe is an American singer (best known as the lead vocalist and lyricist of American heavy metal band Lamb of God), actor, and songwriter. As a teenager, he strived to become a singer, as he spent his childhood learning music skills. He has also delved into the world of photography, some of which he posts on his Instagram page often. At this year’s Midwest Music Expo, Randy will be telling us about his time in Lamb of God and his journey to sobriety. He even has his own brand of non-alcoholic beer, Brew Dog.

Lol Tolhurst

Lol Tolhurst

Lol Tolhurst is a founding member and the former drummer and keyboardist of English band The Cure. He left The Cure in 1989 and was later involved in the band Presence and his current project, Levinhurst. Originally called the Easy Cure, the band was formed in 1976 by schoolmates Smith (vocals, guitar), Michael Dempsey (bass), and Laurence “Lol” Tolhurst (drums). Lol will be telling us about his time in The Cure and his new book, which is now in 17 different languages!

DJ Scary Lady Sarah

DJ Scary Lady Sarah (with Lol Tolhurst)

Amongst many other things, Scary Lady Sarah is:

– A DJ and Impressario/Promoter
– The founder of American Gothic Productions
– A native Chicagoan
– Vegan
– Joyously married to William Faith 
– Happily mother only to felines and friends
– Rhythm guitarist and vocals for The Bellwether Syndicate


William Faith (with Lol Tolhurst)

William Faith is a former member of the gothic bands Rozz Williams, Christian Death, Shadow Project, Mephisto Walz and briefly as support for Sex Gang Children during a one off performance in 1993 at The Roxy Theatre. Faith was a founding member of the goth-punk band Wreckage (where he was known as Bill E. Bones), as well as anarcho-punk collective Anima Mundi. Faith is perhaps best known as a founding member of Faith and the Muse . A longtime member of the Los Angeles gothic rock and punk scene, Faith has also produced records for a range of artists.


Aly Swengel (Health and Wellness Panel)

Aly is the director of the Decatur Wellness collective, an organization that focuses on the wellness of its clients and the physical, spiritual, mental and financial health of its practitioners. As a therapist with a thriving full-time practice, Aly finds self care protocols vital to enduring wellness practitioners and wellness practices.

Aly Swengel began her wellness journey as a teenager in chronic pain and suffering from depression. At 16 year old, Eastern philosophy and yoga began to shift Aly’s physical and spiritual understanding of herself. Since 2008 Aly has studied yoga and massage therapy and worked in private practice to help others gain a deeper understanding of their physiology and how to manage their energy to create alignment in their nervous system and lives.

Chris Morrell

Chris Morrell (Health and Wellness Panel)

Chris Morrell is the Director of Student Mental and Behavioral Health and Millikin University. Chris has revamped the Counseling Program at Millikin over the past few years to focus on different student accommodations and needs.

Matt Eidson

Matt Eidson (Demo Listening Panel)

Matt Eidson has extensive first hand knowledge of the road and major label functions. He was nominated for Tour Marketing Professional of the Year (2005-2006). He toured with: U2, Gwen Stefani/No Doubt, RedHotChiliPeppers, Depeche Mode, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, G-Unit, Eminem and The Flaming Lips. Eidson is the International Marketing Director as Ipecac Recordings with 17+ years in the Los Angeles Tour Marketing Departments at Warner Bros./Reprise Records, Interscope/Geffen/A&M Records.

Mark Williams

Mark Williams (Demo Listening Panel)

Mark Williams is a music industry professional focusing on the marketing and sales of recording equipment. ALAB Media is his international sales and marketing company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. If you have questions about gear and marketing, Mark is your guy.

Jesse Labelle

Jessie LaBelle (Demo Listening Panel)

Jessie LaBelle is a music placement specialist, among many other things. She specializes in post production, music production, supervision, licensing, partnership development, and professionalism. She is currently an independent music supervisor and producer working in Chicago, Illinois. She is the chapter chair for Women in Music in Chicago as well.

Adam Cunningham

Adam Cunningham (Demo Listening Panel)

Adam Cunningham is a Millikin University 2012 alum, majoring in Commercial Music. He is currently the bass player for Cole Swindell. He has hands-on experience working as a touring musician, a studio musician, and a Nashville music industry professional.

Brian Abbott

Brian Abbott (Demo Listening Panel)

Brian Abbott was born in Munich, Germany, but now lives in Decatur, Illinois. He graduated from Millikin University ’93 with a Masters in Pre Law. He is a former legal advisor for the State of Illinois. Now he is a record store owner and on the Board of the Decatur Area Arts Council. The owner of Speakeasy Records & Oddities in Decatur is a self-proclaimed supporter of young people in music and the arts.