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US agencies merge to form Independent Artist Group

US-based talent agencies APA and Artist Group International (AGI) have merged to form Independent Artist Group (IAG).

New York’s AGI was founded in 1986 by Dennis Arfa and is owned by the Yucaipa Companies, the private-equity group controlled by billionaire investor Ron Burkle, which also made a strategic investment in LA-headquartered APA (Agency for the Performing Arts) in 2021.

The merger announcement sees Arfa appointed chair of IAG’s music division, with AGI president Marsha Vlasic named vice-chair and APA president Jim Osborne becoming CEO. The new full-service agency promises to intensify competition in the international live music agency landscape, which had been largely consolidated by just four companies – CAA, Wasserman, UTA and WME.

“This was the natural next step in our evolution and made in the best interests of our valued artists,” says Arfa. “We have admired how Jim Osborne and their colleagues have been market leaders in creating brand expanding, non-touring revenue opportunities for their clients and we are excited to build on that success with them and look forward to integrating under the Independent Artist Group banner.

“We are excited to grow our music touring footprint especially with APA’s roster of urban and comedy artists, which augments what we have built at AGI. The combination of artists, agents and offices provides us with a tremendous platform with exciting growth possibilities in the touring and crossover space, which is our plan.”

“This new partnership with AGI and our rebrand to Independent Artist Group is another major step that elevates us within the agency landscape”

The deal brings APA clients such as 50 Cent, 2 Chainz, Fetty Wap, Deep Purple, Mary J Blige and Lauryn Hill, and AGI’s roster, which includes the likes of Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, Smashing Pumpkins, Linkin Park, Metallica, Noel Gallagher, Motley Crue, The Strokes and Iggy Pop, under one roof.

“Dennis Arfa and his exceptional colleagues at AGI are revered in the industry, having built a spectacular artist roster and a sterling reputation,” says Osborne. “The great news is we have already established a tremendous working relationship with them through shared representation on some of their most valued artists. This new partnership with AGI and our rebrand to Independent Artist Group is another major step that elevates us within the agency landscape.”

Deadline reported last week that APA head of music Bruce Solar would be departing the agency alongside a number of other agents. Paquin Artists Agency announced the acquisition of APA’s Canadian business earlier this month.

Yucaipa also has interests in London-based agencies X-ray Touring, ITG and K2, US promoter Danny Wimmer Presents and agency Day After Day Productions, and Spain’s Primavera Sound festival, as well as management company LBI Entertainment and sports agencies ISE and Steinberg Sports.


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