After performing with national touring bands for a dozen years, Brian Penick decided he could lend a hand to local bands trying to break into regional and national markets.
So Penick created the Counter Rhythm Group
in October 2010. In one year, the CRG has worked with six bands on seven album releases and countless tours and shows. It all starts with artist development and promotion.
The artist development side takes young, both in age and music industry experience, and helps them acclimate to the industry. The goal is for artists to feel comfortable talking to promoters, publicists, booking agents, managers and record labels.
The event promotion side of the business lets Penick and his team of four create events with regional and national bands paired with his own clients. The CRG’s one-year party
is an example. As well as celebrating a year in business, two of CRG’s clients, Wussy and Alone at 3am are realizing albums at the event. The events range in size from 70 and 1,500 people. CRG does all the promotion in-house so the artist development and event promotion go hand in hand.
Penick’s years of experience have shown him that smaller, well thought-out steps are the key for local bands to open the door to larger markets.
“I’ve really gained a sense of what goes behind successful and not successful acts in the music industry,” Penick says. “From playing basement shows to negotiating major label contracts, I’ve been run through the gauntlet.”
The number of smaller local bands far outweighs the larger national and regional acts, so getting support behind a newly formed band is a major challenge. The more finely tuned a band can be when members leave their home city, the easier it will be for them to gain broader-based support.
Penick defines a regional band as a band that achieves success outside its home city. The CRG sends local bands throughout the Midwest, places where that they believe they can at least break even on expenses. “It’s just being able to do, in a series of close markets, what they can do at home,” Penick says.
Penick makes sure that the bands he takes on have the talent, potential and drive to succeed despite stiff competition. “You can have the best band in the world, but if they aren’t willing to work, I can’t really do anything with that,” Penick says. Once a band leaves the hands of the CRG, Penick hopes that they work full-time with a radio agent, record label, publicist, booking agent and a manager.
Walk the Moon
is a band that encapsulates what Penick would describe as a success story. After working with the CRG, Walk the Moon had everything from a manager to a radio agent working with them and is now signed to a major label and touring the world.
“There are so many bands in Cincinnati that should be recognized on the regional level,” Penick says. “They just need that extra little push; that’s what the Counter Rhythm Group is here to do.”
By Evan Wallis