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Wasserman revels in branding opportunities for artists

New live music power player Casey Wasserman believes his company’s experience in working with brands will be the number one opportunity for its many new artist clients, following its multi-billion dollar acquisition of the Paradigm Talent Agency’s American assets.

As chairman and CEO of Wasserman Media Group (and the president of the Los Angeles Olympic organising committee), which includes newly rebranded Wasserman Music, he said buying Paradigm at a time when there is no live music was an easy gamble. “To be able to buy an agency that had scale, like Paradigm’s US business – and the UK business is not far behind for us – was a unique opportunity,” Wasserman told delegates at Pollstar Live! yesterday (17 June).

“Timing is luck. We didn’t buy a music business because we could get it cheap. We bought a music business because we believe in the music business – and we believe in it for the next 20 years – and opportunity to own a business with a great group of people and a great set of clients fits with how we think about the world.”

Appearing on stage alongside Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke and C3 Presents’ head promoter and talent buyer Amy Corbin, during the conference’s final keynote conversation (Reviving Live, What’s Next?), Wasserman said adding close to 50 music agents to his company’s existing 130 sports agents was a great deal.

“On the work we do for our brands, music is a big platform – it’s artist driven, it’s event driven, it’s festival driven, it’s building driven,” he stated. “The science behind what makes dollars valuable in the sports world and the music world and the cultural landscape is very similar, and we think one of the big opportunities that we have is that we are amongst the leaders in helping brands spend their dollars. I think it’s the biggest single opportunity for artists from the connectivity inside our company. Our ability to understand what the brands want and what the artists will do, and bring those two together, will create a lot of value for the artists.”

Noting the company’s strengths in data analytics, Wasserman added, “As our team likes to say, ‘the world is drowning in data and starving for insight.’ We think the insights we can offer on top of the data that everyone spews is as valuable to an artist as it is to an athlete or it is to a brand, and we’ve already started to do that. Most of the time I’ve spent with our agents is in thinking about brand connectivity and brand relationships, and for us that always starts from the data.”

“We think the insights we can offer on top of the data that everyone spews is as valuable to an artist as it is to an athlete”

Leading the panel, Oak View Group’s Francesca Leiweke-Bodie congratulated C3’s Corbin on selling out 450,000 tickets for Austin City Limits in record time. Corbin admitted that working from home was akin to being “in an isolation chamber,” unable to bounce ideas off her team, making the challenges of organising this year’s event considerable. “We had no idea that we would sell out in just three hours. The appetite was insatiable, and that’s promising for our industry.”

She added that with such C3 events as Lollapalooza to organise, amidst a tour landscape that will be the busiest ever in 2022 and 2023, her team are already working on festivals well into the future. “The traffic I’m seeing in 2022 is pretty crazy, so we’re being forced to get out ahead of it and at least secure the headliners… the sooner we can get started the better.”

Meanwhile, with seven arenas due to open in the next 18 months, Oak View Group’s Leiweke revealed they will announce “about ten more” in the near future. And with Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena set to open in October, Leiweke took the chance to speak about the sustainability challenge that the music industry is facing.

“We have about a ten-year window where if we don’t solve our planet and sustainability, and what we’re doing to ourselves, the whole Earth is going to disappear one day,” warned Leiweke.

Applauding Amazon chief Jeff Bezos for coming up with the idea of a carbon-neutral arena, Leiweke continued, “Climate Pledge [Arena] is the first step; UBS Arena will also be carbon neutral, but will take more time as we have existing utilities we have to deal with. But we are committed ultimately now to make sure that for our industry we are a platform and we’re going to invite everyone up in October so we can share with you everything we’ve learned about how we can be carbon neutral, how we can help make this Earth a little bit better, and how we can lead the charge at making everyone understand that we have a few years to change this and if we don’t, we’re going to lose this battle.”

On a more upbeat note, Leiweke concluded that the industry’s recovery from the pandemic lockdown looks like it could be phenomenal.

“The amount of content that’s going to be out there is going to be spectacular and the amount of demand is the best we’ve ever seen,” Leiweke noted. “There’s new leadership and a new direction on how we ultimately maximise the value of touring for an artist by thinking outside the box. I think we’re now living in the golden age for live entertainment.”

 


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UTA signs Demi Lovato worldwide

UTA has signed Grammy-nominated artist Demi Lovato for worldwide representation in all areas.

One of the decade’s most successful artists, Lovato’s most recent release, seventh studio album Dancing with the Devil: The Art of Starting Over, went to No 1 on the Billboard charts, while her new documentary, Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, has earned positive reviews since debuting at SXSW.

In addition to her work as a recording artist, she is known as an advocate for mental health awareness and LGBTQ causes.

Lovato’s most recent tour, 2018’s Tell Me You Love Me, was the 77th highest grossing of the year, earning US$24.1 million from 41 shows.

Lovato, who uses non-binary (they/them) pronouns, was formerly represented by WME. They are managed by Scooter Braun Projects.

 


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Steve Martin and Andy Somers launch Paladin Artists

Another new independent agency, Paladin Artists, has made its debut after former APA staffers Steve Martin and Andy Somers gathered a team of nine other agents to launch offices in Los Angeles, New York City and London.

Paladin has also created a strategic partnership with Wayne Forte of Entourage Talent Associates and Karrie Goldberg of The Kagency in a deal they say will re-envision the agency business, looking at artist and brand representation, touring and live events, literary representation, theatre production, touring exhibitions and estate management.

In addition to the principals, the Paladin Artists team will include agents Magaly Barone, Kath Buckell, Chyna Chuan-Farrell, Christian Ellett, Steve Ferguson, Seth Rappaport, Sara Schilevert and Zach Silva.

According to Celebrity Access, the turmoil caused by the Covid pandemic allowed Paladin’s founders time to assess the overall industry landscape and devise a more evolutionary approach to the agency side of the business.

Somers says, “Paladin, Entourage and The Kagency share similar visions and will each benefit by the sharing of information, experiences, and common goals; exploring new means of improving the future of artist and brand representation while remaining independent at a controllable scale of operation.”

“The industry is rapidly evolving and will continue to do so in the post-pandemic world”

Martin adds, “The world has been through hell for the last 18 months with many places and people still struggling. I’m simply grateful to work with people I like and artists that I respect, enjoy and have fruitful relationships with. Many were able to take a step back during the shutdown and evaluate what is important, be it personal or business. The industry is rapidly evolving and will continue to do so in the post-pandemic world.”

Both veterans of the independent scene, Martin and Somers have worked together for decades as their careers saw them both instrumental in the growth of Neil Warnock’s The Agency Group.

For his part, ILMC stalwart Wayne Forte says, “This pandemic has highlighted how short life truly is. So, why not work with people and clients one genuinely likes and with whom one shares similar visions and philosophies. The establishment and building of yet another successful business is a bonus! After all, success is not simply a destination, it’s a constant journey.”

The Kagency, founded by Karrie Goldberg in 2004, built one of the first venue representation businesses in North America focused solely on handling the corporate/private event, film and photo bookings for their clients. The company portfolio currently includes more than 500 traditional and non-traditional venues in the US and UK, while its talent roster includes artists and brands such as Nike, Givenchy, Duran Duran, Beyonce, Cartier, Under Armour, Maserati and Vogue.

 


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Danny Wimmer Presents acquires Billy Alan agency

US festival promoter Danny Wimmer Presents (DWP) has acquired Billy Alan Productions, a leading booker of talent for Native American-run casinos.

Billy Alan Productions, which has been rebranded Billy Allan 2, will continue to be led by president Billy Bill, who represents various casinos in California, Oregon and Mississippi. Since 1999, Billy Alan Productions has​ has booked a range of American Indian bands for casinos, as well as international artists such as Duran Duran, Ringo Starr, Chicago, ZZ Top, Snoop Dogg, Gabriel Iglesias, the Beach Boys and Wynonna.

“I love being the advocate and talent buyer for Native American casinos,” comments Brill. “My goal is to collaborate with DWP and utilise their resources to bring in top-level talent to the casinos, offer better ticket prices and ultimately bring in wider audiences, including more VIPs, to the casino shows.”

“It makes sense for DWP to expand into this space”

Danny Hayes, CEO of Danny Wimmer Presents, adds: “We love the business that Billy has built and feel that our resources will help him grow and develop the platform. Native American properties are becoming a larger part of every artist’s routing and it makes sense for DWP to expand into this space.”

Los Angeles-based DWP produces eight US festivals, including Louder than Life in Kentucky, billed as the biggest rock festival in America. It is part of Y Entertainment Group alongside the likes of K2 Agency, Artist Group International and Primavera Sound, having sold a stake to private-equity firm Yucaipa in early 2020.

 


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Endeavor profitable in first quarter of 2021

WME parent company Endeavor posted a small profit of US$2.4 million in the first quarter of 2021, its Q1 financial results – the firm’s first since becoming a public company in April – reveal.

Endeavor, which also owns the IMG sports agency and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), among other properties, increased its net income from the -$51.3m it reported for the same period last year. Revenue for Q1 2021 totalled $1.07 billion, down slightly from the $1.19bn in Q1 2020, while operating income came to $94.5m, up from $53.8m year on year.

Speaking during yesterday (2 June)’s earnings call, Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel noted that the growth was driven primarily by its ‘owned sports properties’ segment – one of three business units, along with representation (ie the agencies) and events, experiences and rights – which saw revenues rise 22%, to $283.5m. This segment comprises UFC, Professional Bull Riders (PBR) and Euroleague basketball.

Other significant Covid-era demand is coming from its events and experience business, which includes corporate hospitality firm On Location (acquired just before the pandemic), which was recently named global hospitality provider of the Olympic Games.

The representation unit (comprising WME, IMG and Endeavor Content) continues to be hit by restrictions on events, registering a 15% dip in year-on-year revenue, to $248.9m.

“Artists of all kinds are desperate to get back out and tour”

However, booking agency WME is seeing “brisk ticket sales for upcoming concerts,” explained Emanuel. “The pre-sale for the first event of On Location’s Mexico-based beach concert series, featuring WME client Dead and Company, sold out both its January 2022 weekend dates, and the next event featuring WME client Luke Bryan had its fastest sell-out in its seven year history.”

While live music hasn’t “done exactly a 180, we have high demand, coupled with favourable pricing and yield, and artists of all kinds are desperate to get back out and tour, to see, to greet their fans,” Emanuel added.

“We are locking down major arena tours for 2022 – and to make up for a year away from performing live, many of these tours are multi-year, spanning broad territories across North and South America, Europe and Asia.”

WME artists include Drake, Justin Timberlake, Adele, Bruno Mars, Pearl Jam, Kendrick Lamar, the Killers, Bjork, Frank Ocean, Foo Fighters, St Vincent, Shakira and more.

 


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Music orgs mark a year since Blackout Tuesday

A number of music businesses and associations are marking the one-year anniversary of the Blackout Tuesday/#TheShowMustBePaused campaign, which turned social media dark on 2 June 2020 in solidarity with anti-racism protesters in the United States.

WME recognised the milestone yesterday (1 June) with a ‘day on’ of workshops and programming focusing on racial equality.

According to Deadline, the day – which was open to partners and clients of both WME and sister brand Endeavor Content – included a conversation between actor Michael B. Jordan, Endeavor chairman Patrick Whitesell and Rashad Robinson, president of civil rights group Color of Change, and a review of Leaving $10B on the Table, a study of Hollywood’s economic losses due to lack of diversity.

There was also a discussion about colourism in entertainment with YouTube channel The Grapevine and a film-focused workshop titled ‘Tools for Talent, Production Companies and Studios to #ChangeHollywood.’

Other booking agencies, including UTA, CAA, ICM Partners and APA, also similar events to mark the anniversary.

North of the border, Canada’s industry leaders will today sign the first ‘Declaration Against Anti-Black Racism in the Canadian Music Industry’.

“The eradication of anti-black racism requires a commitment to anti-racism”

The initiative, coordinated by BDRB (Breaking Down Racial Barriers), CIMA (Canadian Independent Music Association) and Advance (Canada’s Black Music Business Collective), will host a virtual declaration signing event today for industry figures to make public their commitment to anti-black racism. The event will include speakers Andrew Cash (president, CIMA), Keziah Myers (executive director, Advance), Ian Andre Espinet (co-founder, BDRB), David ‘Click’ Cox (co-founder, BDRB), Shauna de Cartier (president, Six Shooter Records), Steve Kane (president, Warner Music) and Erin Benjamin (president/CEO, Canadian Live Music Association), as well as performances from Jully Black and Shantel May.

“To build an inclusive Canadian music and entertainment industry, it is critical to address the anti-black racism that exists in the systems and working environments within which black music professionals and creatives operate,” the declaration reads. “The eradication of anti-black racism requires a commitment to anti-racism – an active, conscious and ongoing effort to work against racism: to acknowledge; to atone; to create mechanisms that dismantle systems which perpetuate racism, and to create actionable solutions with measurable outcomes.”

Supporters can also sign the declaration here.

In Brussels, Impala, the association of independent music companies, is “asking as many businesses as possible to use the anniversary as an occasion to contribute to the debate” by responding to its diversity and inclusion survey.

“This work is very deep, and it has to be thoughtful”

Helen Smith, Impala’s executive chair, says: “Impala is marking the first anniversary of Blackout Tuesday by taking stock of what has been worked on in the last year and calling on independent businesses to respond to our survey so we can build a picture of the sector and map best practices for the future. As from today, members can also sign up to our next diversity and inclusion training. We also publish our practical guidance for members, both companies and associations.

“Last year was a day of reflection, let this year be a day of both reflection and action. Let’s build a picture of our sector across Europe and help it evolve.”

Elsewhere, Vice reports that the three major labels – Universal, Sony and Warner Music – have paid out some US$37m towards charities and other organisations campaigning for racial equality in the year since Blackout Tuesday.

That amounts to around 16% of the total $225m pledged ($100m apiece for Warner and Sony and $25m by Universal), though the companies did not specify a deadline for the money to be paid out.

“We’re talking about literally generations of racism and systemic racism and power dynamics. This work is very deep, and it has to be thoughtful,” says Warner Music Group’s Yvonne Moore.

 


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New music for June: IQ agency playlist out now

The latest edition of the IQ New Music playlist, featuring a selection of tracks curated by major international booking agencies, is now live, showcasing some of the most exciting talent for the summer ahead.

Launched last year, the playlist complements IQ Magazine’s popular New Signings page, which keeps the live industry updated about which new, emerging and re-emerging artists are being signed by agents. Click here to read the latest issue of IQ now.

The May playlist features contributions from CAA, ITB, Paradigm, UTA, 13 Artists, ATC Live and Primary Talent International, each of which have picked several tracks apiece showcasing some of their hottest touring artists.

Listen to the latest selection using the Spotify playlist below, or click here to catch up on the April playlist first.

Separated by agency, the full track list for the June playlist is:

AgencyArtistSong
CAAFemi Tahirusking
ITBAPOLLO JUNCTIONLight Up The Sky
ITBBEATRICHSame Song
ITBCHERYMListening To My Head
ITBHEIRMy Love
ITBTOM BRIGHTHow Young We Were
ParadigmCian DucrotKnow Me Again
ParadigmDylan FraserI'd Rather Be Here
ParadigmfanclubwalletWhat's Up
ParadigmKamal.Lose
Paradigmsmoothboi EzraStuck
UTACheat CodesHellraisers (New Album)
UTAOneohtrix Point Never, RosalíaNothing Special
UTAPotter PayperTopshottas Freestyle
UTASons Of KemetBack To The Future (New Album)
UTAWaterparks
13 ArtistsHolly HumberstoneThe Walls Are Way Too Thin
13 ArtistsMax PopeAutomatic
ATCFaye WebsterCheers
ATCKALIToo Tired
ATCBlack MidiChondromalacia Patella
ATCPintyAnother Lost Soul
ATCVC PinesConcrete
PrimaryCathy JainCool Kid
PrimaryhappydazeAll Away
PrimaryDeemaCan I?
PrimaryMKChemical

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100 issues young: New IQ Magazine out now

The landmark 100th issue of IQ Magazine, which includes reflections from staff past and present on IQ’s first 17 years, is now available to read for subscribers.

In addition to this rare moment of self-reflection, the 100th (June 2021) edition of IQ has in-depth features on post-pandemic recruitment and restaffing, the ‘New Europeans’ who have been forced by Brexit to relocate from the UK to the continent, and the new independent booking outfits shaking up the agency world.

Columns, meanwhile, look at accessibility, contracts and the devastating cancellation of Australia’s Bluesfest – which was cancelled at the 11th hour following a single positive Covid-19 test – while regular content such as news analysis and new agency signings will keep you abreast of all the latest developments in the international live music industry.

As usual, the majority of magazine content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks. However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ for just £5.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:

 

IQ subscribers can log in and read the full magazine now.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Berlin’s TBO agency opens Asia office

Berlin-based booking agency The Bliss Office (TBO) has joined forces with the Netherlands’ A Plus Artists to launch The Bliss Office Asia, a Singapore-based electronic music agency booking across Asia, Australasia and the Middle East.

By partnering with A Plus’s Michel Kuklinski and Roy Gerritsen, who started the agency last year after leaving Amsterdam- and Hong Kong-based David Lewis Productions, TBO aims to “develop and expand the Asian underground scene, not only for the artists who are already affiliated with The Bliss Office Asia but also for emerging local talent”, according to the company.

TBO-signed artists include DJs Amelie Lens, Pan-Pot, Farrago and Nicole Moudaber.

“Expanding our business in the Asian-Pacific markets always has been high on our list,” say TBO heads Marco Starke and Ugur Akkus. “We strongly believe that now is the time to make steps in the mentioned markets and we are happy to do that with the expertise from Roy and Michel.

“Expanding our business in the Asian-Pacific markets always has been high on our list”

“Both are fully integrated in the Asian-Pacific markets and with their commercial backgrounds, we think we can take some serious steps in the market.”

“Marco and Ugur have a great philosophy and are great people in the industry with an impressive track record. Their roster is top-notch in today’s underground scene and we are more than happy to continue the growth in Asia, Australia and the Middle East,” say Kuklinski and Gerritsen in a joint statement.

The partners have also announced the addition of Kenny Wee, founder and owner of Pure Substance Management (Christian Löffler, YouAndMe, Victor G, Filterheadz), to the Bliss Office Asia team. Along with Starke and Akkus, he will handle all day-to-day business for the new agency.

 


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CAA’s Hugh Parsons plans ‘Ride for Ben’ fundraiser

Hugh Parsons, assistant to late CAA agent Ben Kouijzer, is planning a nearly 1,000-mile sponsored bike ride in memory of his close friend and mentor, who died from cancer late last year.

Kouijzer, an electronic music agent at Creative Artists Agency in London, passed away in November after being diagnosed with malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour (MPNST), a rare and aggressive form of cancer. He was just 36.

Parsons, who remains with CAA, is cycling the length of Great Britain, from Land’s End in Cornwall to John o’Groats in the Scottish Highlands, to raise money for Sarcoma UK, a charity that supported Kouijzer throughout his battle with cancer.

At press time, Parsons has raised more than £6,000 for Sarcoma UK for the 1,500km ride, which he will do in ten days in the company of his friend, Max.

“Ben was a very special person who I was lucky enough to call a close friend and mentor,” explains Parsons. “We first met through his brother, Christiaan, who DJed at one of my Stevie Wonderland shows in Manchester in 2015, and Ben and I stayed in touch since, ending up with me working for him at CAA. Among so many huge life lessons, Ben taught me to make time for everyone, park your ego, be as fair as possible, and to stay positive.

“Ben taught me to make time for everyone, park your ego, be as fair as possible, and to stay positive”

“Ben passed in Mexico at the end of 2020 following a long struggle with an uncommon cancer called a sarcoma (or MPNST), which initially infected his back and later his lungs. He was a fighter through and through; however, the final blow was dealt by Covid.

“In between Ben’s two diagnoses, he signed up to run the London marathon for Sarcoma UK but was not able to. I will be following through on Ben’s promise to Sarcoma UK and raising the money Ben would have raised in his name. Charities have been hit especially hard by Covid, and this has been felt even more acutely by already underfunded sarcoma researchers.”

The ride will see Parsons and Max average 150km a day and climb over 15,000m (the equivalent of nearly two Everests), burning the same amount of calories as 14 marathons. “It’s a pretty mad idea, but inspired by Ben, I’m sure we’ll pull through,” Parsons adds. “Please give generously!”

To donate to the ‘Big Ride for Ben’, click here to visit the fundraising page on JustGiving.

 


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