It’s not a band or solo performer, but a book, specially designed for the type of artist playing MidPoint — mostly new, up-and-coming and presumably interested in breaking beyond their hometown’s city limits. Musicians’ Desk Reference (MDR) is an interactive guidebook (an e-Book, to be exact) for musicians at every level of their careers, providing guidance through the sometimes-murky waters of the music industry.
MDR (described on its site as “an online platform designed to help artists progress through today’s music industry — from starting out and recording to promoting and touring, with an emphasis on strategies ranging from DIY to professional business and servicing”) is the project of Cincinnati’s Brian Penick, a former drummer for several touring/recording bands like The Seedy Seeds and Bottom Line, who stopped playing music to start the development/marketing/events promo company The Counter Rhythm Group (CRG). CRG helps (mostly local) musicians get things such as licensing deals and other modern-day career necessities serious artists need to survive.
“I have always been fascinated with the music industry and how it works, always wondering why things happened the way that they do,” Penick writes of his inspiration for MDR in his most recent monthly guest blog for citybeat.com.
With his curiosity and accumulating wealth of knowledge, and as the number of artists approaching CRG for help increased to the point where Penick’s small staff couldn’t handle the load, Penick decided gather all of the information up and make it available to the public.
MDR was born.
Then the hard part started, as Penick set about putting pages and pages of information together for the massive online platform. The whole project has taken about two years to complete, but during this week at the MidPoint Music Festival, Penick will be live-demo-ing the book on the MidPoint Midway (near the Midway stage) and selling it for the first time. (MPMF showcasing performers are entitled to a complimentary copy.) MDR will be offered at a 25 percent discount at the festival.
After MidPoint, Penick is taking MDR to the CMJ Music Marathon, a huge music industry conference/showcase that was the precursor to events like South by Southwest (and MPMF, for that matter).
Penick’s certainly not doing this all for free (he, no doubt, hopes to turn a profit at some point), but throughout the progression of the MDR project, it became clear that he is first and foremost driven by a desire to share his knowledge and to help others who were once in his situation as a musician and may be overwhelmed or just need a clarified tip or contact to keep the boulder rolling up the hill.
“We really hope to level the playing field in the music industry with Musicians’ Desk Reference, educating artists and helping them to build a strong foundation to work from,” Penick writes. “We all have a similar goal for success in mind, however we define it, and I want this project to give every individual that chance.”
For more on MUSICIANS’ DESK REFERENCE, visit musiciansdeskreference.com.