Tones follows Mother Artists founder Natasha Bent from Paradigm Talent Agency, where he worked as her booker and assistant for four years
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Siblings Natasha Gregory and Mark Bent tell IQ how they're planning to shake-up the status quo of the business with their no-bullshit policy
By Lisa Henderson on 03 Feb 2021
In December last year, ex-Paradigm agent Natasha Gregory [aka Bent] and her brother Mark Bent, boss of Mother Management, launched brand new artist management and live agency Mother Artists.
The company – which is the latest in a legion of new UK agencies including Marshall Live Agency, One Fiinix Live and Route One Booking – brings together the pair’s combined four decades of experience under one roof, with Natasha spearheading the company’s live division and Mark heading up management.
Having taken their artists with them (Natasha’s live roster includes the likes of Cate Le Bon and The Magic Gang, while Mark manages Idles and Heavy Lungs among others), the pair have hit the ground running and have already expanded the team with Natasha’s former assistant James Tones.
Now, the pair tell IQ why they’re employing a no-bullshit policy, what kind of company they’re determined to build and how the pandemic created the perfect storm in which to launch.
How did Mother Artists come to fruition? Was joining forces inevitable?
Mark: “We’ve always talked about working together as a kind of dream thing to do, but there was never any plan about when or how. And with everything that’s happening now and our situations, the timing felt serendipitous.”
Natasha: “Timing-wise, I feel like we’ve both got to the same level in business so that neither of us is carrying the other. We’re both strong in our own positions and in our own knowledge and skills…we’re on an even playing field. Mark and I are extremely similar in ethos and mind and ideas and we trust in each other.”
“Mother Artists is something that never would have happened without this pandemic”
Given the current climate of the industry, why is now the right time to set up shop?
Natasha: “Obviously it’s a really, really tough time for the live industry – for artists, managers, agencies, agents, crews…it’s catastrophic. But we’re glass half full people.
“For 18 years, I didn’t ever have the time to think about anything but the job at hand because the live industry is so fast-paced so there was just never any time to make Mother Artists happen.
“The advantage of the pandemic is that neither of us is travelling so we have the space and mindset to get our heads together and make sure that Mother Artists is really the best to our ability.”
Mark: “Mother Artists is something that never would have happened without this pandemic.”
Why did you decide to stick with the name Mother? Is there a philosophy behind it?
Mark: “When I was a tour manager, I saw some artists being pushed to the limits for the sake of people’s goals and we’ve never wanted to have that approach. I had a full-blown breakdown halfway through a tour and everyone was telling me it was gonna happen but I didn’t listen but my artists stuck by me through that when they could’ve so easily moved on.
“That’s why the name, Mother Artists, is so important because we want the company to be like a family and, within a family, you can have those moments where you all have a difference of opinion or you drive each other crazy but that trust and that belief is always there in the background which is so important.”
“We’re ripping up the old school contracts and the old school way of working”
Now you’re both running the show, what kind of company do you want Mother Artists to be?
Natasha: “We’re ripping up the old school contracts and the old school way of working, and really trying to be diverse in not only who we work with, but who comes on board in our team. It’s not only about clients but it’s about us and creating a company that – in my mind, wherever I’ve gone – always thought should exist. A place where ourselves, our families and those who decide to join in the future are really well looked after.”
What will you change about the status quo of the agency/management business?
Natasha: “This has always been quite a magical industry and that you know there’s this smoke and mirrors approach to what you do. When I started as an agent and there weren’t very many women, the only way that I’ve built this roster over 18 years is through hard work, kindness, respect and being honest with myself about who I am and what my capabilities are.
“Enough bullying. Enough shouting to get what you want – that doesn’t work so much anymore and actually that you should be proud of your differences and your vulnerability. Everyone is going to have bad days. Mistakes happen. Our number one rule is you put your hand up straight away so we can talk about it and deal with it. No ‘Oh my god I got that wrong, I’m going to be sacked’. We all pull in, sort it out, and it’s fine because we’re human.”
“You can achieve amazing things by being human”
Mark: “You can achieve amazing things by being human. Besides, everyone’s winging it. If you’re not learning if you’re sitting there thinking you know everything, then it’s game over really.”
You’ve been vocal about Mother Artists having a ‘no-bullshit policy’. What does this mean to you?
Natasha: “What we mean by no bullshit, is that there aren’t any shortcuts to being good at what you do. For example, when you pitch for a band. I can’t promise my bands that they’re going to get on another band’s support because I grow my artists to be in a position to pick their own supports. There’s no shortcut to building a great band – we deal with career artists.”
Mark: “Honesty is such a massive thing, especially on my side. Every artist I’ve worked with knows that they will get an honest answer out of me every time. Whenever we work with anyone, it’s never about the quick buck. The no-bullshit approach is the best way to achieve a long term career with anyone. Because if you don’t have the trust with the artists you’re representing, if you don’t have the trust of the team you’re working with, you’re not going to have those long term relationships with it which is exactly what you need for long term careers.”
“We have a no-bullshit policy…there aren’t any shortcuts to being good at what you do”
How do the artists on your rosters reflect the ethos and business model of Mother Artists?
Mark: “[The business model] can’t be led by us, it needs to be led by our artists. So we’ll just have to see where their careers go and how they want them to go and then we’ll make sure all the pieces fall together when they need to. We want to make sure that we’re representing our artists in both of our fields, as well as they were before, but ideally better than they were before.”
Natasha: “The rosters that we both represent have very strong-minded artists in their own right. They’ve got something to say and they stand for beliefs that we have to be a reflection of that and do it ourselves.”
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