fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

CAA completes acquisition of ICM Partners

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has completed its acquisition of ICM Partners (ICM).

The acquisition, announced last September, was initially planned to close by the end of 2021 but was delayed while the US department of justice (DOJ) investigated its impact on the entertainment industry.

The completion of the deal – valued at $750 million by Hollywood Reporter sources, brings together two of the leading global agencies in entertainment and sports, and is the second major development to impact the agency world in the space of three months, following Wasserman Music’s acquisition of Paradigm UK’s live music business, which was announced in April.

As a result, the international live music agency landscape is now largely consolidated by just four companies – CAA, Wasserman, UTA and WME.

“Today marks a new chapter in the history of our company”

“Today marks a new chapter in the history of our company, positioning us better than ever to deliver extraordinary opportunities for many of the world’s preeminent artists, athletes, thought leaders, brands, and organisations in entertainment, sports, and culture,” says a statement by CAA’s co-chairmen Kevin Huvane, Bryan Lourd and Richard Lovett.

“We are thrilled to welcome our new ICM colleagues to CAA, and look forward to combining their expertise, relationships, and resources with those of our agents and executives around the world. Our diverse range of clients who entertain and inspire large global audiences have never been in more demand, nor have their opportunities been greater. With today’s addition of our new colleagues, the scope of possibilities for helping clients achieve their goals is limitless.”

“We couldn’t be more enthusiastic about our future together”

ICM brings to CAA a global roster of artists in film, television, music, comedy, theatre, games, politics and podcasting. Its music clients include Chaka Khan, Corinne Bailey Rae, D’Angelo, Dan Auerbach, Good Charlotte, J. Cole, Jerry Seinfeld, Jill Scott, Kamasi Washington, Khalid, Migos, Roger Daltrey, Rosanne Cash, Scott Stapp, Sheila E, The Black Keys and Trey Songz.

“Combining with the best-in-class agency to build an even greater representation company for our clients and our colleagues is the core strategic reason for this move,” adds ICM’s Chris Silbermann and Ted Chervin. “We couldn’t be more enthusiastic about our future together, and are energised by the sophisticated, forward-thinking representation we offer clients. This is the ideal next step for our companies.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

 

The Long Tale of Coda

When Coda was established as a talent agency in 2002, there were just 15 members of staff. Twenty years later, the numbers have multiplied significantly and, having emerged from the difficult pandemic years, a takeover by Wasserman Music is being heralded as a step toward an even brighter future. Gordon Masson reports.

As the London-based Paradigm staff celebrated the company’s 20th birthday at ILMC, the ink was barely dry on the deal that saw the company become part of Wasserman Music, effectively reuniting agents in the UK with their former Paradigm colleagues in North America, a number of whom made their way across the Atlantic for the 26 April party.

Central to that deal was company owner Casey Wasserman, who had made no secret of his desire to add a significant music division to Wasserman Media Group. Indeed, during his ILMC keynote interview, he told delegates, “I was having a quasi-affair with [Paradigm chairman] Sam Gores, as I had a coffee with him once a week, essentially, for multiple years, to try to persuade him to sell his business. Our goal, frankly, was if we bought the whole of Paradigm, how could we separate the music business from the entertainment business and either sell off or merge that into something else that we would not be part of, so we could just concentrate on the music business.”

Revealing how the deal finally happened, Wasserman reported, “In February [2020], Paradigm stepped on at least one, but maybe multiple, land mines and kind of blew themselves up. At that point, I said to our team that we should move on to other things. But to their credit, Sam and his brother, Tom Gores, called a couple of months later to say they had some struggles and needed to solve the situation, so would we be interested in buying just the music business, which is what we wanted, anyway. So we began that process April 4 of 2020, and end of May 2021, we closed.”

The reunification of the two halves of Paradigm may have taken a further year to complete, but the principals in the London office could not be happier, with director Alex Hardee noting that the initial deal with Paradigm back in 2014 fulfilled a long-held ambition for the business to be part of a global enterprise, “but it took us a long time to find partners in America that had a similar business culture,” says Hardee.

In 2019, the companies officially started trading under the same Paradigm brand, ending the use of the Coda name in the UK. However, for many working in the London operation, the “Coda culture” is still very much alive and kicking, even though the business has now under-gone a couple of ownership changes.

“I threatened to leave MPI, which was sort of true, but I hadn’t actually found another agency to go to”

Early Days
The formation of Coda Agency back in 2002 brought together two successful boutique businesses and established an operation that few could dispute has changed the booking agency landscape.

What’s often overlooked is Hardee’s pivotal role in the formation of Coda. When fellow MPI agent Cris Hearn departed the company for a position at Primary Talent, Hardee saw an opportunity.

“I threatened to leave MPI, which was sort of true, but I hadn’t actually found another agency to go to,” he admits. “But I ended up buying Miles Copeland’s shares in MPI, and then I suggested we should talk to other companies about a merger. Primary Talent was really successful at the time, but I thought if we went in with them, they’d just end up taking the credit, so it was better to look for another agency of about the same size for a merger.”

Instead, Hardee identified Concert Clinic as a potential partner. “We talked to [owners] Clive Underhill-Smith and Rob Challice, and Clive came up with the name Coda for the new company,” Hardee recalls. “So Coda started out in 2002 with me, Clive, Rob, and Phil Banfield as directors. I have no idea how or why Clive came up with the name Coda, but I just realised after the Oscars this year that it actually stands for Child of Deaf Adult, which isn’t the greatest name for a music agency, really…”

“We actually get approached by agents working elsewhere a lot, but from a recruitment point of view it’s all about trying to find people that can complement us”

Development & Growth
As Coda grew, adding agents and boosting its roster year on year, the need for bigger premises became a recurring theme for its leadership.

The merged MPI and Concert Clinic entity saw the partners initially setting up shop for Coda in rented offices in Rivington Street in London, to cater for a founding workforce of about 15 people. But with the company enjoying exponential growth, the need for space facilitated a move to a new location in Shoreditch High Street to accommodate 40 staff, before the directors chose to purchase their next premises in Clerkenwell where the head count doubled again.

“From there, we bought our current office in Wenlock Road, and we grew in size again to about 125 people. And then Covid hit, meaning that we could have probably moved back to Rivington Street,” says Hardee.

With staffing levels in May 2022 nudging above the 80 mark again, the company hierarchy is steadily hiring new people. “To be honest, we’ve always found it quite easy to hire, until now,” says director Tom Schroeder. “We actually get approached by agents working elsewhere a lot, but from a recruitment point of view it’s all about trying to find people that can complement us… There have been some big figures over the years that we’ve said ‘no’ to because we thought it would have changed the tone… we have never been those shouty aggressive people. We simply don’t think it’s the way to do good business.”

Looking back over the past two decades, Schroeder tells IQ, “Every agent that’s come here has gone on to have the most successful years of their career – their biggest financial years, the right upward trends, signing new stuff. We like to challenge people, to try and get them out of their comfort zone in the best, positive, possible way, and I think that’s worked in our favour.”

“We’ve now been together as a board of four – Alex, me, James and Dave Hallybone – for 15-plus years, and that’s a massive strength”

Schroeder was one of the original employees of Coda, having started his career 22 years ago at MPI. “I was up in Nottingham at university, but I wanted to come back home to London, so I randomly emailed a couple of companies one day, asking if they had any jobs for a keen kid. And at that moment, MPI had literally finished a meeting where they agreed to employ a keen kid.”

Taking that chance certainly paid off for both the company and Schroeder, who a few years into his career was invited to become one of Coda’s partners. “I was starting to have some success, and I think Alex had seen that I was quite shrewd.” He notes, “Alex and I realised that we are really different to each other but that we work really well together.

“The partners at the time were Rob Challice, Clive Underhill-Smith, Alex, and Phil Banfield, and I remember promising myself that in the first partners’ meeting I would sit there and not say anything; just absorb it and then leave. But within about 90 seconds, I stood up and said, ‘What are you all doing? This is ridiculous.’ And I really enjoyed that part of it. It comes quite naturally to me.

“We’ve now been together as a board of four – Alex, me, James [Whitting] and [financial director] Dave Hallybone – for 15-plus years, and that’s a massive strength.”

“One of the first calls I ever made was to Anton Lockwood at DHP, and he asked me if the band I was pitching would bring in their own backline, and I had to hand over the phone and ask a colleague what a ‘backline’ was”

For his part, Whitting tells IQ that he joined Coda in April 2003, having been an A&R exec at Polydor and then Chris Blackwell’s Palm record label. “It was my introduction to the music industry, but I found out quite early on that A&R wasn’t for me: you’d sign an act and spend ages developing them, but often you didn’t even get to release a record,” he laments.

As a result, when Clive Underhill-Smith presented him with an opportunity to join Coda, Whitting didn’t hesitate. “I jumped at it,” he says. “I loved the immediacy of the job – working with an artist, booking the show, and the show happens. There’s a beginning, middle and end to it, whereas A&R often lacked a middle and an end.”

However, he recalls that his start date at Coda – 1st April – was apt, as he had limited knowledge of the agency environment. “I was given a load of phone numbers and some CDs and [was] told to book some shows, but I didn’t have a clue what I was doing,” Whitting admits. “One of the first phone calls I ever made was to Anton Lockwood at DHP, and he asked me if the band I was pitching would bring in their own backline, and I had to put my hand over the phone and ask a colleague what ‘backline’ was.”

Despite being so green, Whitting quickly found his feet. “The first significant act I took on was Mylo, pretty early on in 2003. I really just focussed on that, and when he broke through in 2004, I quickly learned what it actually took to be an agent and what was expected of you. After that, I knew how to implement that experience into other artist careers.” And as Whitting’s success caught the eye of rival agency bosses, Hardee offered him partnership at Coda.

“I don’t believe you can be a significant agency signing global stars if you don’t have a global footprint as a company”

Global Expansion
The ambition of Coda’s partners and staff to be able to deliver global services for clients became something of a burning topic, and quietly, senior management started looking for suitable partners with whom they could form an alliance in North America.

Says Schroeder, “I don’t believe you can be a significant agency signing global stars if you don’t have a global footprint as a company. And we made that decision a long time ago. It was then about who would those partners be. We had options, but Paradigm was about Marty Diamond and Lee Anderson and Sam Hunt and Tom Windish. That’s who we had our synergy with. And the build worked great because we both saw ourselves as the alternative agency, and to be honest, I never want that to change.”

In fact, Hardee reveals that it was Marty Diamond who first tabled the idea of an alliance.

Diamond tells IQ, “We always wanted to have an international partner, and Coda was a very natural fit because we already had shared clients and we had a shared spirit – both companies were very entrepreneurial and disruptive.”

Noting that he knew the Coda principals individually through working on various shared clients, Diamond says, “Tom, James and Alex complement each other incredibly well, with each coming at it from a different place. As an outsider looking in, it was very clear how their personalities support one another, and that is true to this day – they are thoughtful, methodical, and they balance each other. And, bottom line, they’re just really good partners. Through what has been a very trying time for our industry as a whole, they showed creative finesse and they showed dedication to the people that they work with.”

“Wasserman has the same sort of culture, certain principles that we like”

Schroeder couldn’t be happier with the choice of partners in North America. “The merger was super successful, and our growth was exponential. We were doing global signings in a different way to everyone else, and everyone was really happy.”

Hardee says, “Paradigm was very good because it was a big company in America, but they allowed us to govern ourselves, maybe with a lot more freedom than you would have with the traditional big American agencies.

“Wasserman, I think, will be a slightly different kettle of fish. They’re much bigger than Paradigm, and they will want more control of the company, and we realise that. They have 120 people working in their office in London already on the sports side, so it’s going to be a different dynamic. But as far as the agents go, the people who are at Wasserman are the same who were at Paradigm.”

He continues, “Wasserman has the same sort of culture, certain principles that we like. The difference with Casey Wasserman is that he is up there on the level of a [Michael] Rapino or an [Irving] Azoff – he’s a player in Hollywood, and we never really had anyone before who can get you into any room, which is great for the Americans and great for us when we go to LA. But it will undoubtedly be a slightly different dynamic.”

With a full year under Wasserman ownership, Diamond says the new working environment is “truly amazing.” He states, “Not only is [Wasserman] a well run, well managed company, Casey is incredibly dynamic, incredibly engaged, supportive and excited about being in the music business. Obviously, they’ve been in the music business on the brands and property side of things, but not on the talent representation side of things.”

And he reveals that the support for getting the agency business back up to speed has been unlimited. “I can’t remember the number of people that came along with us in what was a very long and convoluted journey to get to Wasserman, but we’ve hired in excess of 50 people already in the first year,” he says.

“Ultimately, it’s Alex who is the glue. We’ve worked with him for 20 years, so he must be doing something right”

The “Coda Culture”
Despite the Paradigm merger and subsequent Wasserman acquisition, many of the London office staff still refer to the “Coda culture” that they believe sets the agency apart from its peers.

“It probably originated in the early days of everyone at the company going out together and partying together, but then growing up and still having that same team spirit and non-shouty atmosphere,” opines Hardee.

“We’ve engendered a culture where anyone can ask questions, and we’ve always had open-plan offices to help with that. We’re not brain surgeons, so we want to make sure nobody gets too self-important. Sure, we have a sense of humour, but we also do a serious job. For instance, people see me as the funny guy, but I’m actually quite good at processes and putting CRMs together – I invented a thing called Task Systems that everyone uses in this company. So James is the nice friendly one that everyone loves; Tom is very much the emotive one; I’m more robotic; and Dave does all the hard work and takes none of the credit for it.”

While Coda was ahead of the game in terms of actively recruiting and developing female agents, Hardee admits it took movements like Black Lives Matter for the company to put its diversity efforts under the microscope. “It drew our attention to who we actually have at the company, but also who we do not have, and we’ve identified that situation as one of our weaknesses. So we’ve set targets and, I believe, having cut down staff numbers because of Covid and now going through a recruitment programme, we’re addressing that issue, and we’re aiming to be better.”

Agreeing that the Coda culture is very much alive and kicking, Whitting notes, “There’s a few people that have been here for over a decade, and that’s helped shape the company culture, which is forever changing. Ultimately, it’s Alex who is the glue. We’ve worked with him for 20 years, so he must be doing something right.”

“People enjoy working here; people like coming to work. That’s part of the culture that we created, and it’s something we are very proud of”

Another building block of the Coda culture is the openness encouraged by senior management, enforced by their company meetings every Tuesday, when all staff members, from accountants to reception, agents and assistants, gather to discuss every single on-sale and all final ticket sales from the previous week, as well as any other concerns.

Schroeder explains, “I believe in making a flat pyramid structure for the company, where rather than it being very difficult for staff to access the people at the top, everyone gets the chance to talk and be heard. That’s become more and more important because it’s young people who are really defining culture – their A&R is better, they understand what young people want, and those people need access to the top of the tree.”

Indeed, testament to the Coda culture is the fact that the vast majority of agents who join the company stay there.

“A couple of people have left over the years, and it’s always sad to see people go,” says Whitting. “But if they’re not happy and excited, then we wish them well to do what they want to do. People enjoy working here; people like coming to work. That’s part of the culture that we created, and it’s something we are very proud of.”

“Agents instinctively, because of ego or defence or whatever, have a tendency to blame everyone except themselves when they lose an act”

Another unique element of the Coda mindset was a piece of silverware, initially awarded to individuals for losing an act on their roster but latterly given to anyone who made any notable faux pas.

“The Shame-Up Trophy is just a really good way of getting rid of that nonsense that people have when they make a mistake,” explains Whitting. “Owning up to everything is the only way you’re going to learn and grow. It’s good when you make a mistake that people are actually there to support you rather than get on your back.” And he admits, “Ultimately, the people who have won the Shame-Up Trophy most are probably myself, Tom, and Alex.”

Schroeder agrees. “Agents instinctively, because of ego or defence or whatever, have a tendency to blame everyone except themselves when they lose an act. But there have been points in our company’s growth where we’ve lost key acts, and instead of sulking or being angry, we want everyone to learn from it because then you can start to really tackle your weaknesses and acknowledge them.”

“Me and Alex took a kicking at times – our Covid nicknames were Zoom and Doom!”

Covid
Like the entire live entertainment sector re- acting to Covid, Paradigm’s UK offices quickly shut-up shop in early 2020, sending staff home, with a number unfortunately having to be made redundant as lockdowns and restrictions ended live events globally for an unprecedented period.

But while the situation in London was bad, at the Paradigm operation in North America, where the music division was the smaller part of the Hollywood-centric entertainment empire, the pandemic was catastrophic, with hundreds of staff losing their jobs and the very future of the indie powerhouse being called into question. That situation, however, was resolved when Casey Wasserman finally agreed a deal with Paradigm owners Sam and Tom Gores, in a move that Sam Gores described as “a win for all parties.”

Looking back over recent events, Whitting says, “Losing staff was the hardest thing that we had to deal with in our 20-year history. But we’re coming out of it strongly, and while the whole market is very choppy, we’re still here, and that’s something to be very proud of.”

Schroeder says, “Me and Alex took a kicking at times – our Covid nicknames were Zoom and Doom! But I quickly knew that this wasn’t going to be a four-, six-week, three-month thing. That was the toughest bit. I was just spending the whole time as a partner going, ‘If I could just see 12 month’s time, I could plan my business,’ but we never could.”

“Even now, this market is volatile”

Nevertheless, Schroeder believes the company’s weekly meetings took on even greater significance during- and post-Covid.

“Working out how and when to go on sale; whether you’ve been forced to reschedule and when you should announce that; what levels to do upgrades, multiples etc. We want to do that as a company, and when you have either a good tour or a bad tour, or something in the middle, the key is to talk about what you’re going to do next. It’s a massively important part of what we do as a company, so our weekly meetings are invaluable.

“Even now, this market is volatile. And you can either just talk positives and discuss the excitement of the resurgence of live, or you can acknowledge the fact that there’s an awful lot of casual ticket buyers who need to be enticed back into the market.”

“There’s not a better team in the business, globally, in terms of identifying talent early and growing it”

Team Wass
While the live music industry was devastated by Covid, the pandemic presented Casey Wasserman with the catalyst to realise his ambition to get into the agency business.

Having completed the Paradigm US deal in May 2021, the transaction for the UK division became the worst kept secret in the live music industry. Frustratingly, the reunification of both divisions of Paradigm under the ownership of Wasserman Media Group was necessarily prolonged by the pandemic. However, the April 2022 confirmation that the London-based operation and its staff had become part of Team Wass was cause for much celebration on both sides of the Atlantic.

Looking ahead at the prospects for the reunited music division, Diamond predicts, “Continued growth and continued diversification.” He adds, “There’s not a better team in the business, globally, in terms of identifying talent early and growing it. Obviously, if you put on paper the superstar talent we collectively represent, it’s pretty impressive.

“The one thing we have found in our conversations is that there’s a hunger and desire to challenge the business, disrupt the business, grow the business. And that’s done by signing great talent – whether that’s sports talent, branding clients, or music clients – and nurturing those relationships to build superstars.”

“Casey is young; unbelievably ambitious; very, very successful; and he has an understanding of where the economics go, much beyond the music industry. So he’s going to be a massive asset”

Cheerleading the closure of the transaction, Schroeder states, “One of the very obvious weaknesses we felt we had, as Paradigm, is we didn’t have a figurehead… [Marc] Geiger at William Morris, Rob Light at CAA, these people are front and centre, whereas we lacked that. But what Wasserman does, to a level that we never imagined, is we have a figurehead in Casey Wasserman whose reach is enormous. His experience is unbelievable, the people he has access to, the doors he can open.

“Casey is young; unbelievably ambitious; very, very successful; and he has an understanding of where the economics go, much beyond the music industry. So he’s going to be a massive asset, and I feel incredibly excited having someone of that significance at the top of the tree.”

Hardee is equally enthused. “Our contemporaries are UTA, William Morris and CAA, but I still think we present our case differently. We definitely think in a more independent way, but that’s just a little point of difference that most people will see in the culture here. And that’s the same, as far as I’ve seen, at Wasserman.”

Hardee notes Wasserman’s hiring of Brent Smith as an example of the calibre of talent the company can attract. “He’s one of America’s biggest agents, representing Drake and Kendrick and Frank Ocean and having one of the biggest rosters in the world. So, there will be targets over here, too,” he states.

“In the UK, we actually took on Nick Cave and Chris Smyth, but we didn’t want to shout about it because we’d made 40 people unemployed through the pandemic, and it didn’t seem right to announce new people because it could upset the office. The bottom line is that agents like coming here, so we will be looking for new agents – no matter if they are young or old, we’re always open to conversations.”

“We’ve got some great agents coming through… You can definitely see future management material there”

Nonetheless, Hardee contends that one of Coda’s strengths was developing agents in-house, and it’s a strategy he aims to continue despite the expanded Wasserman armoury now at his disposal. “Growing people internally is the most rewarding part of the job and can produce the best agents because they carry no baggage from other places. Tom Schroeder came through the ranks, as did James Whitting, and Nick Matthews is another. We’ve also got great talent who have joined us – Cris Hearn went on holiday to Primary [Talent] and came back, Sol Parker came in, as did Geoff Meall and Clementine Bunel. But we like the education process at the company, which is only possible because we don’t sit in little silos.”

As Paradigm UK becomes the latest addition to the Team Wass family, Whitting is looking forward to the years ahead with a renewed lust for life. “We’re very excited to see what Wasserman can bring to the table,” he says. “It’s going to be interesting because of the various different areas that they’re in – their marketing with their sports and branding expertise: they align really well with what we do. And because they did not have a music department, that’s good for us, as we’re not going into a pre-existing culture. We’re kind of creating that side of the culture for Wasserman. And we’re good at culture creation.

“We’ve got some great agents coming through and people who over the pandemic have put themselves front and centre in really trying to keep things moving forward and keep things positive. You can definitely see future management material there, which is good because we don’t want to carry on doing it forever.”

“I’m completely convinced that we will have this wonderful creative bounce off the back of [Covid], and it will look like nothing we’ve seen before”

Likewise, Schroeder’s fervour for the deal is palpable. “I am buzzing,” he says. “I’ve got a young roster and the fan base is a young one – it’s like the new punk. I’m completely convinced that we will have this wonderful creative bounce off the back of [Covid], and it will look like nothing we’ve seen before. These kids don’t see colour, they don’t see gender, they don’t see sexuality, they don’t see ethnicity. They’re slightly hedonistic for the moment but with real seriousness about cultural significance and owning artists and being part of it. It’s wonderful to see.”

And he believes that the Wasserman acquisition will help fast-track some of the London office’s rising stars to levels where Coda or Paradigm may have found unattainable. “We’ve spent a lot of 2021 and 2022 talking about the need to take some risks and put some young people in really significant positions. Now we’re moving a lot of people who have put the time in and have that sort of spark and specialness about them: if they’ve got that, then why not do it now?”

For his part, Casey Wasserman says, “What’s so exciting about the acquisition here [in the UK] is their history with our US music team. The relationship I’ve built with Alex and Tom and Dave and James and the whole leadership team over the last few years is really extraordinary. I’m incredibly confident that this will be a successful business because of the trust and respect and the commonality we share, [as well as] the history they shared prior to us getting involved.”

As the company’s owner, Wasserman has some strong views on how his talent agencies should operate. “We learned early on that you cannot buy client lists,” he says. “Our job is to build a great culture and attract and retain great people. If you do those two things then the clients will come. If you sacrifice either of those two things for a client, it’s not a sustainable business.”

“I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all… If you are that talented, you should have the best people represent you, and not just because they all work in the same place”

Addressing the idea of representing clients for non-music-related activities, Wasserman pulls no punches. “If you are a musician and you want the best music agent, you are going to want to hire someone at Wasserman to manage that part of your career. If you can also act, or something else, then you should hire the best person to do that for you. I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all: everyone sells that, but it’s total [bullshit]. If you are that talented, you should have the best people represent you, and not just because they all work in the same place.”

“We want to make ourselves the best place for an agent to pursue their career for themselves and for their clients”

Joining in the celebrations for Coda’s 20th anniversary, Wasserman underlines his determination to complete the acquisition that saw the company become part of his media group.

“Coda, and the team that had built Coda for 20 years as an incredibly successful business, had unfortunately just flipped to being Paradigm shortly before the start of Covid, so the timing was brutal,” he observes. “But just like the US [Paradigm] business, they worked through an incredibly difficult situation and did that incredibly well.”

And hinting that there could be further agency acquisitions, Wasserman states, “It was always our plan to buy both [Paradigm] businesses. Because of the different shareholdings, we separated those transactions to give them both the appropriate attention and focus. But these two are the first two steps, not the last two steps, as we continue to build a global music business.

“We are competitive, so we want to represent the best clients, help them drive their careers and be incredibly relevant and influential in the music business. We are going to continue being aggressive, so as the world is coming back, the plan is to put ourselves in the best position to succeed. If we think it adds value to our business and our clients, we are going to go after it.”

Wasserman concludes, “We want to make ourselves the best place for an agent to pursue their career for themselves and for their clients. I really believe we have done that on the sports side, unequivocally, and I have no doubt we are also going to do that on the music side.”


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

CAA promotes six trainees to agent

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has promoted six graduates from its CAA Elevate training programme.

Chris Burrus, Zakaria Laaboudi, Inder Gill, Sophie Kavanagh, Arlen Papazian and Kara Petit have all been elevated by the company.

CAA Elevate is the agency’s next-generation training and practical development curriculum for its new wave of agents and executives in training, designed to “cultivate best practices, encourage innovation and foster global strategic-thinking”.

Nashville-based Burrus, who represents the likes of Nate Smith, Tyler Booth, Erin Kinsey and After Midtown, has been upped to agent in the music touring department. He is also on the teams that support Jake Owen, Matt Koziol and Brandon Ratcliff. He joined CAA in 2018 as an assistant to Sabrina Butera, and was promoted to music touring coordinator in 2021.

CAA Elevate is the agency’s next-generation training and practical development curriculum

London-based Laaboudi joined CAA Sports in 2018, serving as an assistant to Roman Di Somma, prior to being promoted into CAA Elevate in October 2021. In his new role as an international sports talent agent, Laaboudi will identify and orchestrate endorsement opportunities for the agency’s international talent clients, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Son Heung-min, Raphaël Varane and Daniel Ricciardo.

Elsewhere, Los Angeles-based Gill has been promoted to agent and will serve on the media finance team; Kavanagh has been made an agent in the commercial endorsements department and will be based in CAA’s New York office; and LA-based Papazian is promoted to agent in the podcast group, with a focus on creating live touring opportunities. Also based in LA, Petit is promoted to agent in the global television department.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Middle East agency receives major funding boost

The Middle East’s first female-founded entertainment agency is stepping up its expansion plans after confirming a multi-million dollar funding round led by Abbey Road Investment Group.

Dubai-based IAM Entertainment is looking to continue its growth across the region through live shows and talent management, as well as film and TV productions.

Co-founded by Sonal Vara-Parmar six years ago, IAM has worked with artists such as Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga and was also a partner for the Expo 2020 world fair, which featured concerts by superstars including Alicia Keys, Black Eyed Peas and Coldplay.

‘The second phase of our growth plan will see us cementing the region as one of the most desirable and commercially viable locations for movie and TV production,” adds Vara-Parmar. “Enabling a boost to the economy through building a new talent pool and job creation. IAM Entertainment has achieved significant success in the six years since we started but this is nothing compared to what we will achieve in the next five years.”

“This significant investment is crucial for our future growth strategy”

According to data analysts Magnitt, just 11% of Venture Capital funding in 2021 in the UAE, went to female founders.

“This significant investment is crucial for our future growth strategy,” says IAM COO Ash Parmar. “A priority for us as a company is being able to invest heavily in our live shows division, bringing never-before-seen, chart-topping, international artists to the region in order to showcase their talent to the region’s residents and tourists alike.”

Arjun Mittal, CEO of Abbey Road Investment Group, adds: “IAM Entertainment has been on our radar for many years, and this has been an incredible growth story. We were delighted to be able to partner with IAM to create even bigger waves in the entertainment industry in the region.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Wasserman Music UK announces handful of promotions

Wasserman Music has elevated five longtime UK-based employees to agent.

The promotions include Laura Brown, Cecilia Chan, Suzie Melki, Lucy Putman and Holly Rowland, who were all previously bookers at the agency.

The move represents the first promotions for the London office since Wasserman’s acquisition of Paradigm’s UK’s live music business in April.

“We are very proud that they have come through the ranks of the company”

“We are thrilled to announce the promotions of Laura, Suzie, Cecilia, Holly and Lucy,” says Wasserman Music partner James Whitting. “They have all been with us for a number of years and worked across the likes of Slowthai, Easy Life, Kaytranada, Louis Tomlinson and Billie Eilish, and we couldn’t be happier for them for this next stage in their careers.

“We are very proud that they have come through the ranks of the company, helping to shape our culture and building and developing our artists’ careers in the best possible way. We look forward to enjoying the future with this great group of individuals as we continue to grow Wasserman’s global music division.”

Brown joined Coda (now Wasserman Music) as a receptionist in 2013 and moved up to an agent assistant and became booker for Whitting in 2018. As a new agent, she has signed artists Lucy Deakin, Queen Millz, and Clarence & The Modern Life.

Chan, who first joined Primary Talent International as assistant to agent Cris Hearn and followed him to Coda in 2015, has signed artists including iamamiwhoami, Amy Wiles, Moon Boots, Shimza and BluePrint, and is a mentor with British charity Youth Music.

Melki moved into the live business at Asgard, later switching to WME to work with agent Sol Parker, who she followed to Coda in 2015. She has also worked with Wasserman agent Adele Slater. Recently, she has signed artists including Matt Corby, John Vincent III, Remme and Lip Critic.

Putman, who started promoting club nights with friends as a teenager, was invited to join Coda by agent Tom Schroeder in 2007. Putman has helped organise the Music Mudder charity fundraiser created by Wasserman Music UK agents, which will return later this year, and has also mentored at Bristol Beacons, an organisation that helps up-and-coming musicians.

Rowland, meanwhile, began her career as an apprentice at Coda before coming on board full-time as an assistant in 2016. She worked across DJ clients booking travel before moving to work with agent Sol Parker, and was promoted to booker for Alex Hardee two years later. As a new agent, she has signed artists including David Kushner, Sophia Alexa and Rhys.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Tributes flood in for ex-CAA agent Paul Fitzgerald

Leading live music figures have paid tribute to music agent Paul Fitzgerald, who has died aged 54 following a long illness.

The ex-CAA agent enjoyed a distinguished 25-plus-year career in showbusiness after starting out at Louis Parker’s Concorde International Artistes in the early ’90s.

Fitzgerald, who is survived by wife Ellie and daughter Lulu, was the longtime agent for The X Factor Live tour and worked with artists such as Leona Lewis, Steps, JLS, One Direction, Olly Murs, Nicole Scherzinger, Diversity, Ella Henderson, Beverley Knight and Craig David.

“Fitz was one of a kind. Entrepreneurial from his core and with a great love of his clients”

“Fitz was one of a kind,” CAA co-head Emma Banks tells IQ. “Entrepreneurial from his core and with a great love of his clients, he was a trailblazer in his work with X Factor amongst other projects. He was always open to pursue new projects and avenues with his trademark enthusiasm.

“Paul had a ‘can do’ attitude that went from work into his life generally. He was much loved at CAA, agents across the company in every department globally knew Paul through their interactions at our company retreats or other times that Paul would visit them.

“Paul has left us all far too early and our hearts break for Ellie and Lulu. Gone but never forgotten.”

“Paul was a true legend in every sense of the world”

Fitzgerald, who launched entertainment industry consultancy MYBX in 2018, is credited as a mentor by his former CAA assistant Chris Ibbs, who was elevated to music agent at the company last year.

“Paul was a true legend in every sense of the word,” says Ibbs. “A fabulous agent and great friend. His infectious humour was only matched by his huge kindness. It was an honour to work for him and without his guidance I simply wouldn’t be where I am today. Thank you, sir. Rest easy.”

SJM Concerts promoters Simon Moran and Matt Woolliscroft spoke similarly highly of Fitzgerald, both personally and professionally.

“I always got on really well with Paul,” Moran tells IQ. “We did a lot of business with him over the years. He was very hard working and tenacious. As they used to say on The X Factor, he had the likeability factor – he was a really great fella.”

“He once joked to me, ‘I have never been cool in my entire life’ – he was probably right, but he was a good man with a good heart”

“I worked with Paul across many of his biggest artists including the early touring of One Direction, JLS’s incredible run after their appearance on the X Factor, the X Factor tour itself, Beverley Knight and many others,” adds Woolliscroft. “He was a sensible and easy going person to do business with. Loyal to his contacts and hard working for his clients.

“We’d stayed in periodic contact after his illness had meant he’d had to step back from his work and I was in awe of his positivity. I have missed our more regular contact since he ‘retired’. He once joked to me, ‘I have never been cool in my entire life’ – he was probably right, but he was a good man with a good heart and I will miss him.”

Elsewhere, Triple A Entertainment’s Pete Wilson recalls first meeting Fitzgerald during his early days at Concorde.

“Paul came to a Smash Hits Poll Winners awards show at London Arena to meet with Boyzone,” he remembers. “He was not a booker but a true agent – all of his acts enjoyed the Fitzgerald stamp. He would create a live environment from which the acts could grow and thrive. No act was too small, he gave his time to them all.

“He also had the rare qualities of honesty, loyalty and integrity. To have one of those is a challenge, to have all three is remarkable. He was a true friend and is a massive loss.”

“The achievement he was most proud of was to take a very unfancied Steps to sell one million tickets in UK arenas in one calendar year”

Fellow Triple A director Dennis Arnold adds: “Many people will testify to Paul’s hard work and dedication and his outstanding success as an agent. I would like to pay tribute to him as a loyal, sincere and much loved friend.”

Wilson singles out Fitzgerald’s work on X Factor Live as a particular highlight – but even that played second fiddle in his career accomplishments overall.

“It ran for a number of years and numerous artists that evolved from the show are still worldwide superstars,” he says. “However, the achievement he was most proud of was to take a very unfancied Steps to sell one million tickets in UK arenas in one calendar year.”

In a statement to IQ, Steps – Claire Richards, Faye Tozer, Ian “H” Watkins, Lee Latchford-Evans and Lisa Scott-Lee – share their sadness at the news.

“We were so very saddened to hear of Paul’s passing,” say the British pop group. “He was instrumental in the success of Steps and our touring career. We have many fond memories of spending time with him and send our love to Ellie, Lulu his family, friends and colleagues.”

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

ICM Partners founder Marvin Josephson passes

Marvin Josephson, founder of ICM Partners, passed away on Tuesday (17 May) in New York, at the age of 95.

An official cause of death has not been announced.

“We mourn the loss of Marvin Josephson, one of the founders of ICM, who was universally respected as an agent, a leader and a man,” ICM Partners said in a statement. “We send our heartfelt condolences to his family.”

Born on March 6, 1927 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, US, Josephson was raised by immigrant parents. After serving in the US Navy during the twilight of World War II, he returned to the US to attend Cornell University and then night law school at New York University School of Law. Upon receiving his degree in 1962, Josephson started a job in the CBS legal department.

In 1955, Josephson began his own personal management company, drawing clients such as “Captain Kangaroo” producer and star Bob Keeshan. Josephson later converted the company into a talent agency upon entering the world of television personalities, representing figures such as Chet Huntley, Peter Jennings, Frank McGee, Don Hewitt and Reuven Frank. Later in his career, Josephson would represent Barbara Walters.

Josephson’s agency grew, eventually merging with the LA-based Rosenberg Coryell, which had Bing Crosby and James Garner among its client list. After buying out his California partners, Josephson’s company was renamed Marvin Josephson Associates (MJA).

“[Josephson] was universally respected as an agent, a leader and a man”

After acquiring Ashley Famous Agency in 1968, the combined agency was renamed International Famous Agency (IFA), though the parent company that owned IFA continued to be called MJA. MJA then acquired Creative Management Associates (CMA), a more film-focused agency as opposed to IFA’s emphasis on television and publishing.

Josephson served as chairman and CEO of the combined talent agency, which was renamed International Creative Management (ICM) and grew to become a huge operation in entertainment, representing clients such as Yo Yo Ma, Henry Kissinger, Steve McQueen, Margaret Thatcher and Colin Powell during Josephson’s tenure.

In 1992, Josephson passed control of ICM onto Jeff Berg, Sam Cohn and Jim Wiatt, though Josephson maintained a leadership role and continued to represent personal clients. In 2005, the company was sold to a private investor, Suhail Rizvi.

Josephson is survived by his wife, Tina Chen; his children, Celia Josephson, Claire Josephson, Nancy Josephson, YiLing Chen-Josephson and YiPei Chen-Josephson; his 16 grandchildren; his two great-grandchildren and his brother, Jack Josephson. He was predeceased by his son, Joe Josephson.

The family has asked that donations be sent to The Jewish Federations of North America to support families in Ukraine in memory of Josephson.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

ILMC 34: Top agents discuss post-pandemic landscape

Session chair Tom Schroeder (Wasserman) recounted his first ILMC experiences when he was accosted by private jet brokers who were not exactly relevant for his jungle acts. As a result, he said he wanted to make this year’s agency session a little more accessible for all.

Jon Ollier (One Fiinix Live) spoke of his recent experience with the start of the Ed Sheeran tour and the excitement around it, noting that outdoor shows appear to be more exciting than those indoors.

Looking for the positives in the current state of live music, Schroeder reported that young acts who have come through the pandemic appear to want to have a lot more ownership of their careers, with Lucy Dickins (WME) agreeing that there is a culture shift happening among the younger generation.

Ollier opined that it’s not just a generational thing, but also financial, as lots of people are buying tickets late, meaning that promoters have to take a leap of faith in investing in their events in the hope that people do turn up at the last minute.

The agents said [ticket] prices are not likely to come down as the artist’s costs have also increased

Sally Dunstone (Primary Talent) told ILMC that avails appear to have reached a saturation point, making it tricky to get to that next step with new artists. But she said this forced agents to be more creative and look to work with different venues, for example.

“We have to advise the artist on how they get to that next step in the career and if that means telling them to wait, rather than go out now and do a tour that could harm their long term prospects,” said Dunstone.

She said that her decision to switch agencies was down to the pandemic, thinking in a more entrepreneurial manner and searching for new opportunities – a sentiment echoed by Ollier who launched his own agency, saying that it was the CAA ethos of exploring new avenues and trying to always find a brighter path, that had prompted him to decide to establish his own venture.

Looking at the year ahead, Ari Bernstein (ICM Partners) observed the effect that festivals might have on other touring, highlighting radius causes and the like as issues that need to be discussed. He said Covid had made him look around for all the other revenue sources that his clients as artists could benefit from, which was something that would strengthen the sector going forward.

Schroeder said the new breed of young manager wants their agents to be a bigger part of the artist’s journey

Bernstein agreed with Schroeder that the price of living is going to squeeze the fans and there will be an impact that we are yet to experience. He also cited the war in Ukraine, rising costs and higher ticket prices, but accepted that it is now part of an agent’s role to negotiate those challenges.

On the thorny question of ticket prices, the agents said those prices are not likely to come down as the artist’s costs have also increased. But they said acts are already looking to tour with smaller productions in a bid to save money, as well as considering sustainability matters.

Schroeder said the new breed of young manager wants their agents to be a bigger part of the artist’s journey, rather than just a cog in the wheel.

Dickins also applauded the entrepreneurial spirit among young acts and younger agents. “The artists that tell me what they want to do, not the other way around,” she revealed. “There are things they are telling me that I think ‘shit, I’ve got to read up on that,’” she added.

Turning to the future, Dunstone predicted that in three to five years’ time the business would be fully recovered and progressed from where it was pre-pandemic. “People are looking at content differently now,” she said citing acts that have done well through the likes of TikTok. “I think we’ll see a fresh batch of new headliners in five years’ time, that have come through the pandemic,” said Dunstone.

“The artists that tell me what they want to do, not the other way around”

Ollier joked that Dickins would be working at his agency in three years, but on a serious note, he said there would be a period of natural selection with artists, events and probably even agents.

“Change is good,” said Dickins. “It’s been boring to see the same headliners at festivals for 15 years. I’m excited about the change and I’m embracing it – it’s already happening.”

Schroeder noted that while festival programming had improved, diversity in the actual industry itself was poor, with Dickins agreeing that the business needs to be a lot better.

Schroeder concluded that this summer will be bumpy but that agents need to navigate it. Ollier said, “The art is going to get better and better, no matter what us industry idiots have got to do.” That struck a chord with his fellow agents, with Bernstein believing that there will be more doors opening for revenue streams than ever before, as people embrace entrepreneurial ideas and think outside the box.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

ILMC 34: Casey Wasserman talks Paradigm acquisitions

Casey Wasserman has discussed Wasserman Music’s acquisitions of Paradigm’s North America and UK live music businesses.

The latter deal took place earlier this week and comes a year after the launch of Wasserman Music, which itself followed the completion of its acquisition of Paradigm’s North American live music business.

Speaking yesterday (27 April) at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC), Wasserman revealed that his company had always planned to buy both of Paradigm’s businesses.

“We’re not myopic,” he said. “I don’t sit in Los Angeles and think the world operates and rotates around the United States. Building a global music business is fundamentally important to the clients we serve and the business we operate in.

“I don’t sit in Los Angeles and think the world operates and rotates around the United States”

“We can’t say to our clients, ‘We can only serve you in this little area or in this little way’. For us not to have a global music business that is integrated and operates as one unit would be a mistake.”

Explaining the reason for buying the businesses separately, Wasserman said: “Because of the different shareholdings, we separated those transactions to give them both the appropriate attention and focus.”

The entertainment mogul hailed Paradigm’s UK leadership team – which includes Dave Hallybone, Alex Hardee, Tom Schroeder and James Whitting – as “world-class” and says that the company weathered the pandemic incredibly well.

Discussing the tie-up between Wasserman Music and Paradigm’s North America business, Wasserman says the deal was “incredibly complex” and took more than 14 months.

“Building a global music business is fundamentally important to the clients we serve and the business we operate in”

“We brought on 80 employees and created a new music division and [because of the pandemic] we never had an in-person meeting to get that done,” he explained.

According to the American executive, the US deal came about after a “quasi-affair” with Sam Gores, founder and CEO of Paradigm.

“I had coffee with him once a week for multiple years, trying to buy the business,” he said. “Then February of 2020, Paradigm stepped on multiple landmines and kind of blew themselves up. And so I actually said to our guys, ‘Okay, enough of the dating game with Sam Gores, we’ll just move on to other things.

“And to their credit, Sam and his brother Tom called a couple of months later and said, ‘We’ve got some struggles here, we really needed to solve this situation and we’d like to talk about you buying the music business,’ which is kind of all we wanted anyway. And so we began that process on 4 April 2020 and end of May 2021 we closed.”

“[The Paradigm acquisitions are] the first two steps, not the last two steps”

He continued: “We went through a lot together over those 14 months to get close. And we knew coming out of it, we’ve got to bring that team together and go forward together. We don’t operate an agency to create structures and bureaucracy because that’s not how agents work. Our job is to sort of put the guardrails in, let them do their job, give them resources to do that, and help them when they need help and otherwise stay out of the way.”

Now Wasserman Music has both Paradigm businesses under its belt, the plan going forward is “to continue to put ourselves in the best position to succeed”. “We want to represent the best clients, help them drive their careers, and be incredibly relevant and influential in the music business. We’ve got a great leadership team, we’ve got great relationships, and we’re going to continue to be aggressive,” he said.

The American executive also hinted at future acquisitions to build a global music business, saying that the Paradigm acquisitions are “the first two steps, not the last two steps”.

“If we think [a company] adds value to our business and to our clients, we’re gonna go after it. We want to make ourselves the best place for an agent to pursue a career for themselves and for their clients,” he added.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Jordan Hallpike joins WME’s UK office as agent

WME has announced that Jordan Hallpike has joined the company as a crossover agent in the music department.

Hallpike, who boasts more than 10 years of experience across the music and creative sectors, was director of music at the Ibiza Rocks Group, where he was responsible for talent booking, event programming, and creative direction. He is also co-founder of creative studio Midnight Movement, where he worked with clients including Live Nation, Island Records, Sky, ITV and Warner Music Group.

Based in London, Hallpike will be tasked with forging new creative opportunities on behalf of WME’s client roster, in addition to serving as a lead for business development projects.

Hallpike’s hire comes on the heels of several key promotions in the agency’s music group

Hallpike’s hire comes on the heels of several key promotions in the agency’s music group, including seven agents to partner and 17 staffers to agent across the Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, and Sydney offices. WME also recently announced that Dvora Englefield is joining the agency as a partner and head of music artist strategy.

WME’s music division represents a host of superstar clients such as Adele, Bruno Mars, Foo Fighters, Dua Lipa, Olivia Rodrigo, Tyler, the Creator, The Killers and Dave.

 


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.