Nashville-based Q Prime South and its six-person staff, led by manager John Peets, have achieved the rare feat of having two acts - Eric Church and the Black Keys - simultaneously top the charts at two radio formats for the second time this year. Church's "Springsteen" is No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs tally, while the Black Keys' "Gold on the Ceiling" tops the Alternative chart. Q Prime South first accomplished the feat - with the same acts - in January when the Black Keys' "Lonely Boy" and Church's "Drink in My Hand" sat atop the same charts.
Q Prime South has managed Church since 2005 and the Black Keys since 2006.
"Gold on the Ceiling" is the second single from the Black Keys' seventh studio album, "El Camino" (Nonesuch), which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in December and has sold 827,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. ("Lonely Boy" was the lead single.) "Springsteen" is the third single from Church's third studio set, "Chief" (EMI Nashville), which topped the Billboard 200 last July and has sold 856,000. ("Drink in My Hand" was "Chief's" second single. Lead single "Homeboy" peaked at No. 13.)
The acts are not only different from each other in terms of format, but they're also unique among their respective genres. Church is an outspoken country hell-raiser who built much of his base through rock clubs, while the Black Keys are a two-man guitar-and-drums rock band. Their success is happening simultaneously, yet their paths are as different as the characteristics of rock and country radio, and how singles are promoted in those realms. (Q Prime South has an in-house rock promotion staff backed by New York-based parent Q Prime that's helping shepherd the Black Keys, while Capitol/EMI's team handles radio promotion on Church.)
The fact that these aren't cookie-cutter acts also means management has to forge different paths in steering their careers. "There are a million little decisions, and you have to really apply a very unique, clear mind to each one, [thinking], 'This is what works for the Black Keys, but this is what works for Eric,'" Peets says.
So, besides Q Prime South, what do these two different acts have in common? For starters, neither could be viewed as "traditional" artists in their respective genres. "They're a little bit the opposite of those [acts] who are chasing things," Peets says. "Nobody great that I can think of sounds like anybody else. To creatively cut your own path may take longer, but if you keep at it and things line up, success comes to you."
Station executives seem to agree. "We're not that surprised at all that the Black Keys are succeeding on radio and, on a greater level, now in pop culture. They've done so by staying true to their sound and not going with any trends," says Jeff Regan, PD of SiriusXM's Alt Nation channel. As for Church, PD Mike Moore of Entercom's KWJJ Portland, Ore., says, "Years ago, I was incredibly impressed by Eric's songs, and anyone who has been to his live shows knows that his fans are some of the most extreme in the business. It's nice to see radio, research and others finally beginning to see what his fans have seen for years."
As might be expected, Peets claims the success of his management company comes directly from the quality of the artists who inspire the staff.
"We all take the same motivational pride," he says. "These guys are a big part of our life. It's not a job, it's a lifestyle, and we all live and breathe it. We've been fortunate to have amazing artists to pour that energy into, and it looks like it's paying off." ••••