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New signings and rising stars: August 2021

UK duo Wet Leg, a new signing for Paradigm’s Adele Slater, and Brooke Combe, repped by Lola Mitchell at 13 Artists, are among the latest acts to have been added to the rosters of international agents.

Find out more, and check out the full artist listings for August, in the digital edition of IQ 102 below. Plus, if you haven’t already, make sure to listen to the latest IQ New Music playlist, which complements the page in the magazine and features even more up-and-coming talent…

 


Wet Leg (UK)

Agent: Adele Slater, Paradigm

Amid a night of hazy scenes in their native Isle of Wight, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers found themselves at the summit of a ferris wheel. They decided to start a band. The band is called Wet Leg.

Arming themselves with guitars, a penchant for French disco, effervescent imaginations, and a shared love of the Ronettes and Jane Birkin through to Ty Segall and Björk, they set about making some recordings of their own.

Enter their debut single, ‘Chaise Longue’, and a deal with legendary indie label Domino, while forthcoming live appearances include support slots with Jungle and Inhaler.

 


Brooke Combe

Brooke Combe (UK)

Agent: Lola Mitchell, 13 Artists

Edinburgh-born vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Brooke Combe recently released her new single ‘A-Game’. Already familiar to legions of fans on social media through viral covers of the likes of Marvin Gaye, her acclaimed debut single ‘Are You With Me?’ arrived in May to a rapturous response, while her latest track provides another tantalising window into the world of a singularly talented young artist.

Combe played her first Glasgow headline show at the legendary King Tut’s on 5 August, and tickets sold out in a matter of hours, highlighting the buzz surrounding the soulful newcomer.

Combe discovered a love for music aged just five, after getting her first toy drum kit. Now aged 21, she has added saxophone, trombone, guitar, bass and piano to her repertoire, and taken influences from the 90s R&B played in her parents’ house, as well as the Motown her grandparents would play for her in order to help develop her songwriting skills.

 


Full artist listings, including new signings for Paradigm, ITB, UTA, Earth, Fmly, 13 Artists, ATC Live, Playbook, Primary and Progressive Artists, are available in issue 102 of IQ Magazine:


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Agents of Change: The agency business in transition

On 20 October, five US agents, all formerly of Paradigm Talent Agency, announced the formation of Arrival Artists – a brand-new booking agency with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle, a roster that includes the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Khruangbin and BadBadNotGood, and a partnership with European agency ATC Live for global representation of acts shared across both rosters.

Following the termination of hundreds of jobs by the Hollywood-headquartered global agencies since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s the kind of news observers of the agency space have come to expect – a group of agents from one multinational join forces and go independent – and follows the launch of two other new US indies, TBA Agency and Mint Talent Group, in late August and mid-September, respectively, and the likes of Route One Booking and Jon Ollier’s One Fiinix Live in the UK earlier this month.

The resurgence of the independent agency, and the apparent fracturing of the corporate giants following years of consolidation, is being watched closely in the broader live music world, where rumours abound of further agency launches and rebrands – including in Europe – in the months ahead.

Nowhere is this more the case than in London, where recent mergers include Primary Talent with ICM Partners and K2 Agency with Artist Group International. And while uncertainty reins, takeovers, strategic pacts and new ventures will all be under consideration for every business.

“It’s clearly a very challenging time for anyone working in live music at the moment,” says ATC Live’s Alex Bruford, whose roster includes Nick Cave, The Lumineers, Metronomy, Black Pumas and Fontaines DC. “No matter the size of the business, if your company relies on live touring, and there is no touring, it’s very difficult.”

“The idea in agency culture has long been geared towards an idea of ‘the bigger the better’”

“Clearly, we all have had to face major challenges in 2020, and we will continue to have significant challenges thrown at us for some time,” agrees Angus Baskerville, partner at 13 Artists, who works with artists including George Ezra, Brittany Howard, Jamiroquai, Michael Kiwanuka, Benjamin Clementine and Paolo Nutini.

But are ATC Live, 13 Artists and other UK-based indies such as ITB, Asgard, Midnight Mango and smaller boutique firms, better placed than their corporate cousins to survive, and even thrive, during the current crisis? With concert activity on hold, is it actually a blessing to be free of the structure of a large company – and are we witnessing a new era of independence in live music booking, the likes of which we haven’t seen for the best part of a decade?

Bigger: not always better
The past seven months have done much to expose some of the myths of pre-Covid thinking within the business, according to Earth Agency’s Rebecca Prochnik, who represents artists including Skepta, JME, AJ Tracey and Nines. “The idea in agency culture has long been geared towards an idea of ‘the bigger the better’,” explains Prochnik. “For a long time, the structural strategy of the larger agencies has been upscaling teams around artists, to provide a more intensive job. While I understand the reasoning, the model creates a lot of employment volume, and in fact the potential for disconnection that has never made full sense to me.”

“Sometimes I look at some of the bigger agencies, and you have too many agents or bookers squabbling over every artist that comes in,” echoes Obi Asika, founder and CEO of Echo Location Talent (Marshmello, Da Baby, Wizkid, Chase & Status, Pendulum, Major Lazer, Giggs). “Many artists have multiple agents, in part to ensure no one agent has too much power over the wider agency. That’s not workable anymore. There’s no guarantee this [a concert-stopping pandemic] won’t happen again – you’ve got to be careful of your overheads.”

“Some large businesses will have been better protected than other large businesses going into this, and I’m sure it’s the same for the smaller ones,” adds Baskerville. “Saying that, I do believe the independent sector has the possibility of thriving in 2021 and beyond, as we’re required to modernise and refresh approaches to the way we work – and do that quickly.”

“Independent companies have been able to be more nimble and adapt faster to new ways of working”

For many of the bigger, multinational agencies, the financial impact of this “surplus” is amplified by huge levels of corporate debt, which in some cases amounts to many times their annual revenues.

According to investment banker Lloyd Greif, Endeavor – the parent company of WME – is shouldering a staggering US$5.1 billion debt, while CAA has $1.15bn coming due in 2026, in addition to a $125 million revolving credit facility. Paradigm, meanwhile, is believed to owe around $80m, following multiple debt-financed acquisitions over the past decade.

Paul Boswell, of Free Trade Agency (The National, Tones and I, Wilco, Tash Sultana, Violent Femmes), says he believes that while the live entertainment shutdown is “clearly bad for all,” it will “hurt those that practice borrow-and-buy capitalism the most.”

“As an independent business, we’ve always been careful not to fall for the seductive culture of living beyond our means: even if money is flowing, we’ve stayed low to the ground on spend,” adds Prochnik. “We’ve always had a culture of working remotely – of needing an office solely for the wellbeing and connection of our staff community, rather than for external business. Throughout my career, I’ve taken my meetings in cars, in cafes, in parks, on the phone… It’s really only ever mattered that I can relate well and do a creative job for my clients as needed.

“What Covid’s done is blow away the myth that an independent attitude is a quirk. Big offices, gleaming receptions, plaques on walls, meeting rooms, games rooms, listening rooms… At the end of the day, those things are all just optics, and ones which suddenly seem tremendously outdated. None of those things shape business in a meaningful way…”

“When the dust settles, there are going to be huge changes”

“The importance of having an office as a status symbol – that, for me, has gone,” adds Asika. “You don’t need a shiny office, and you also don’t need people coming into work every day; if you don’t trust the people working for you, that’s a problem. I’ve enjoyed being at home with my family, and I want that flexibility for my business and staff.” “This virus is terrible, but there are potentially worse ones in the future,” he adds. “And when that comes, you want to be the little speedboat nipping around, not the big cruise liner…”

Agrees Prochnik: “Independent and smaller agencies tend to have a shared personality of sourcing and creating whatever there is to do, thinking outside the box, breaking moulds in order to make business work. I think this inherent culture of flexibility, nimbleness and creating value out of thin air is invaluable in these new times.”

“We’ve seen with companies across our sector, from agencies to promoters to ticketing companies, that often the larger the organisation – and therefore the higher the overheads – the harder hit they have been,” says Bruford. “In many cases, independent companies have been able to be more nimble and adapt faster to new ways of working, new opportunities and the changing landscape.”

The great equaliser
According to Asika, “When the dust settles, there are going to be huge changes” across the agency sector as a result of the current “correction.” “From the value of artists, to where people work, what people have started in this time, what new companies pop up… there are all these things happening in the background, and it’s going to have a long-term impact,” he predicts.

 


Subscribe to IQ Magazine here, or read the full feature in the digital edition of IQ 94:


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Booking agents unite for next IQ Focus

Continuing the weekly IQ Focus virtual panel discussions, this week sees a line-up of senior figures from the agency world step up.

Titled The Agency Business 3.0, the session streams live on Facebook and YouTube on Thursday 11 June at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET.

For multinational agencies juggling investors, cashflow and large numbers of employees, the Covid-19 crisis has presented significant challenges. And for the smaller boutique outfits, the hiatus in touring is no less impactful.



But when the business does return, will this period have changed how agencies are structured, and how they work? What routes back do agents see working, and what new opportunities might emerge? In an industry fuelled by creative thinking, what comes next?

Joining chair and ILMC head Greg Parmley will be CAA’s Maria May, Paradigm’s Tom Schroeder, 13 Artists’ Angus Baskerville and United Talent Agency’s Jules de Lattre.

The popular IQ Focus sessions have run since April, with previous topics having included the festival summer, grassroots music venues, major venues, mental health and wellbeing during lockdown, and innovation in live music. All previous sessions can be watched here.

To set a reminder about The Agency Business 3.0 session this Thursday head to the IQ Magazine page on Facebook or YouTube.


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IQ launches monthly agency playlist

IQ has today launched a monthly new music playlist, with tracks curated by a selection of major booking agencies. The first playlist features contributions from agencies including CAA, Paradigm, ICM Partners, 13 Artists, X-ray Touring, United Talent, ITB and ATC Live.

The playlist complements IQ’s popular New Signings page, which keeps the live industry updated about which new, emerging and re-emerging artists are being signed by agencies.

“Each track is handpicked by our agency partners…we want to spread the word on some of the best new music out there.”

“The touring and festival businesses may be at a standstill, but there’s no shortage of great music that’s being discovered and represented by the world’s leading booking agencies,” says IQ editor Gordon Masson.

“Each track is handpicked by our agency partners. By bringing together some of the most compelling emerging artists, and new tracks by established names, we want to spread the word on some of the best new music out there.”

The tracklisting for the first playlist, ordered by agency, is below…

 

AgencyArtistTrack Title
13 ArtistsHolly HumberstoneFalling Asleep at the Wheel
Max PopeJust Friends
Nito NBToo Late
The AcademicAnything Could Happen?
Russ MillionsOut of Order
ATC LiveLazarus KaneNight Walking
Fontaines D.C.Hero's Death
Fenne LilyHypochondriac
Chicano BatmanColor My Life
Nayana IZWalking
CAAJack CurleyAlice
Isabelle BrownArmour
DylanGood Enough
RayowaThe Only Night
NOISYOi (ATM)
ICM PartnersIndia ShawnNOT TOO DEEP (feat. 6LACK)
Flo MilliBeef FloMix
Jelani AryehStella Brown
Anna of the NorthDream Girl
Emotional OrangesWest Coast Love
ITBThe White BuffaloProblem Solution
Vincent DarbyBaby Oh I
Megan O’NeillDevil You Know
Bad TouchToo Much of a Good Thing
Lonely The BraveBound
Paradigm AgencyLola YoungSame Bed
Oliver MalcolmKevin
Remi WolfPhoto ID
Bruno MajorThe Most Beautiful Thing
KhurangbinTime (You and I)
United Talent AgencyArlo ParksBlack Dog
Serena IsiomaSensitive
House of PharaohsAM to PM
Daði FreyrThings About Things
Samantha HarveyGet to Know You
X-Ray TouringKodalineSaving Grace
Dead PonyEverything is Easy
Chubby & The GangSpeed Kills
Cemetery SunHaunted
Howard KayFake

 


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Biggest-ever IFF 2019 sells out

The fifth edition of the International Festival Forum (IFF) has sold out in advance of the 24 to 26 September event, with 800 delegates attending from 40 markets, 40 agency showcases and a keynote interview with Rock Werchter’s Herman Schueremans.

The invitation-only event for festival bookers and booking agents takes place in Camden, North London. This year’s edition has doubled the amount of networking space around the main venue, Dingwalls, and introduced pop-up agency offices on both days.

“We’ve grown a bit again this year, so have had to pay off a few market stall holders to make room,” says ILMC MD and IFF co-founder Greg Parmley. “Looking back over the last five years we’ve been very lucky – not just with the weather, but fortunate to have had tremendous support from our agency partners, many who’ve backed IFF since year one.”

Partner agencies on IFF include 13 Artists, ATC Live, CAA, ITB, Paradigm, Primary, Solo, WME, UTA and X-ray Touring. Artists confirmed to perform during the various agency showcases include Squid, Sports Team, Life, Happyness, Chinchilla, Niklas Paschburg, Easy Life and multi-platinum-selling rockers the Darkness.

“We’ve grown a bit again this year, so have had to pay off a few market stall holders to make room”

Conference topics at IFF 5 include festival billing, consolidation, competition from new market entrants, gender splits on line-ups, and niche events, while the IFF Keynote interview is Rock Werchter founder and Live Nation Belgium head Herman Schueremans.

With IFF reaching a milestone fifth edition, amongst the various dinners and events is a joint birthday party on Thursday 26 September with European metal festival behemoth Wacken Open Air (30 this year), and Japan’s Summer Sonic (20 this year).

Other new elements at the event include Knowledge and Green Hubs featuring innovative suppliers and sustainability experts, while hosted speed meetings and a delegate portal return for the third year, supported by the Department of International Trade.

Full event information is online at www.iff.rocks.

 


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