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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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PE firm Yucaipa invests in APA

Less than a month after buying into UK metal agency K2, the Yucaipa Companies, the private-equity group controlled by billionaire investor Ron Burkle, has made a strategic investment in Los Angeles-based APA.

APA, the former Agency for the Performing Arts, is headquartered in Hollywood and has offices in New York, Nashville, Atlanta, Toronto and London. Its roster includes Blondie, House of Pain, Fetty Wap, Nickelback, Azealia Banks, Rodriguez, Lil Xan, Gang of Four, King Crimson, Nick Carter, Doves and 50 Cent.

Yucaipa, meanwhile, has stakes in Paradigm’s European business (including X-ray Touring), Spanish festival Primavera Sound and US promoter Danny Wimmer Presents, and owns Artist Group International.

“Ron Burkle and Yucaipa share our philosophy for disciplined growth”

According to Variety, which first reported on the deal, Burkle’s investment in APA is a non-equity arrangement that sees Yucaipa take on APA debt in exchange for cash. Variety’s sources say the cash influx will allow APA to recruit agents and clients at a time when its corporate agency rivals are furloughing and laying off staff.

“With so much uncertainty in the entertainment industry, we’re very pleased to be collaborating with a person and a company so in sync with our vision for the future of our business,” says APA CEO Jim Gosnell. “Ron Burkle and Yucaipa share our philosophy for disciplined growth, and are 100% behind our strategy to expand upon our core business across all media platforms.”

In other APA news, the agency’s head of talent, Jim Osborne (pictured), has been named president, taking over the role from Gosnell.

 


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CAA latest agency to dock pay amid Covid-19 crisis

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) announced it is implementing salary cuts of up to 50% across the agency yesterday (8 April).

The salary reductions, first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, follow similar pay cuts made at fellow agencies UTA, Paradigm, APA and WME parent company Endeavor.

The pay reductions will be company wide and calculated in proportion to wages, with higher earners taking bigger cuts. Co-chairmen of the agency, Richard Lovett, Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvana will forgo the remainder of their salaries for the year, in a step also taken by heads of Endeavor, UTA and Paradigm.

“In this time of tremendous uncertainty we must look closely at what measures help ensure CAA always remains the strongest company for our employees and clients”

“In this time of tremendous uncertainty for individuals, businesses, governments and communities, it is incumbent upon us to look closely at what measures help ensure CAA always remains the strongest company for our employees and clients,” reads a statement issued by the agency.

“We deeply appreciate not only the understanding that employees across the company have demonstrated since this unprecedented global crisis began, but also the remarkable support and compassion colleagues have shown one another, clients and many in the community in need.”

CAA has yet to announce any layoffs due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Photo: Minnaert/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) (cropped)

 


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Canadian Live Music Association appoints new board

The Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) announced a new board of directors at its fifth annual general meeting on Thursday 10 October.

The association, headed up by CEO Erin Benjamin, shared the year’s achievements, including its retirement of the former Music Canada Live brand and relaunch as the CLMA.

“Our new name and brand clearly reflect who we are and will strengthen our ability to advocate on behalf of our sector, our amazing members and deepen relationships with our many valued partners,” commented board chair Jesse Kumagai at the meeting.

The newly elected 2019-2020 board members are Sam Baijal, artistic director of Ontario’s Hillside Festival; Kerry Clarke, artistic director of Calgary Folk Music Festival; Tao-Ming Lau, founder of Blue Crane agency; entertainment lawyer Miro Oballa; and Katy Venneri, director of the Juno Awards.

“Our new name and brand clearly reflect who we are”

The CLMA thanked outgoing founding board members Jean Wilkinson (APA), Neill Dixon (Canadian Music Week), Tom Kemp (Feldman Agency) and Michael Hollett (NXNE) for their contributions.

Over the year, the CLMA engaged in issues including secondary ticketing, safety and security at live events, harassment and bullying in the workplace, artists’ career development and the future of grassroots music venues.

In March, the Canada Arts Presentation Fund received a CAN$16 million boost in funding from the federal government, in a move lauded by the CLMA.

 


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APA execs deny sexual harassment claims

Executives at Los Angeles-based Agency for the Performing Arts (APA) have denied claims made in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee, and claim evidence has been fabricated.

In the complaint, a former APA assistant – named pseudonymously as “Jane Doe” – accuses APA chief executive Jim Gosnell and other executives of nine charges, including sexual harassment and battery, gender violence, retaliation and wrongful termination.

The ex-employee alleges she was “incessantly subjected to sexual advances” and “crude and obscene comments” by Gosnell, Josh Humiston (head of music), Paul Santana (vice-president of talent) and Michael Hammond, chief operating office of APA client Collins Avenue Production.

In a statement made by APA, a spokesperson states that an independent investigation into the allegations, which were previously made internally, found claims to be false. The agency also claims sexually explicit text messages and emails, used as evidence against senior management, are fabricated.

“APA months ago sued the former employee in arbitration for extortion and defamation,” says the spokesperson. “We believe she is now retaliating against APA and its agents through this frivolous public complaint in which she hides her identity.”

“[APA] intends to take all appropriate legal action against her [the claimant] and her counsel”

The assistant was dismissed from APA in August last year, for reasons she terms “trumped up” and “pretextual” with “no basis in fact”.

The spokesperson states the agency intends to “take all appropriate legal action” against the claimant “and her counsel”.

An attorney for the claimant, Michael Popok, says he has confidence in his client’s “veracity”, stating that other witnesses would corroborate with the allegations. The attorney also backed up the validity of the text messages and other evidence.

APA dismissed agent Tyler Grasham in 2017 amid several alleged sexual abuse claims.

APA represents artists including 50 Cent, Kiefer Sutherland, Azealia Banks, Cee Lo Green, Mary J. Blige and Nickelback.

 


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Steve Lassiter named APA co-head, worldwide music

APA has promoted partner and agent Steve Lassiter, who has been with the agency since 1998, to co-head of worldwide music.

In the new role, Lassiter (pictured) – formerly senior VP and head of concerts for APA Nashville – will oversee APA’s concerts division alongside fellow co-heads Steve Martin and Bruce Solar.

At APA (Agency for the Performing Arts), Lassiter represents country, rock and Americana stars including the Marshall Tucker Band, Kansas, Travis Tritt, David Lee Murphy, Jim Messina and the Outlaws. He also sits on the Academy of Country Music board and is a member of the Country Music Association (CMA).

“Steve has done a tremendous job guiding the success of our Nashville operations”

“Steve has done a tremendous job guiding the success of our Nashville operations,” comments APA president/CEO Jim Gosnell.  “The quality of his leadership and contributions to our overall success cannot be understated, and I’m very pleased to honour his hard work and dedication with this well-deserved promotion.”

Lassiter adds: “This is an exciting chapter in my life. I look forward to creating new success stories with Jim, Bruce and Steve as our agency continues to grow and evolve in lockstep with Music City.”

In addition to Nashville, APA has headquarters in Beverly Hills (Los Angeles), New York, Atlanta, London and Toronto.

 


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Eyellusion holograms sign with APA’s Steve Martin

Music hologram production company Eyellusion has signed with Agency for the Performing Arts (APA) for worldwide representation, with APA partner Steve Martin to lead booking for all Eyellusion projects, including the Dio Returns and Bizarre World of Frank Zappa world tours.

Dio Returns wrapped up with a show at the 1,100-cap. Trix in Antwerp in late 2017, which features a hologram of the late Ronnie James Dio backed by his former bandmates,  after playing to sell-out crowds across Europe, with a US run planned for next year.

The Bizarre World of Frank Zappa, which promises guest appearances by long-time Zappa collaborators including Steve Vai, Ed Mann and Ian Underwood, will similarly hit the road in early 2019, while a tour featuring jazz legend Glenn Gould is also in the works.

“Steve brings decades of touring and management expertise, and, like us, is an innovator and visionary”

“We are thrilled to have Steve Martin and APA as close partners as we continue to pioneer an entirely new market in touring that results in fans experiencing the shows of their dreams,” adds Jeff Pezzuti, CEO of Eyellusion. “Steve brings decades of touring and management expertise, and, like us, is an innovator and visionary who lives to open new doors and reimagine what is possible in this business.

“We are proud to welcome Steve to the expanding Eyellusion family and can’t wait to move forward with his knowledge, passion and creativity in our corner.”

“Ahmet [Zappa] and Jeff [Pezzuti] have a distinctively different take on the visual aspects of producing these shows that I find very exciting,” adds Martin (pictured), who formerly represented Dio. “Plus, I always wanted to be Frank Zappa’s agent, and I get to work with Ronnie and Wendy Dio again!”

 


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APA head of music Troy Blakely passes aged 68

Agency for the Performing Arts (APA)’s longtime head of music, Troy Blakely, has died aged 68.

The veteran rock agent signed acts including Robert Plant, Fleetwood Mac, Heart, the Go-Go’s, Lenny Kravitz and Judas Priest to LA-based APA, which he joined in 1994, becoming head of music in 1998, partner in 2002 and managing partner in 2005.

Prior to joining APA, Blakely (pictured) served spells at ICM, where his roster included Red Hot Chili Peppers, Boston, Poison, Faith No More, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne and Rush, and Diversified Management Agency (DMA), which he joined in 1972 and where he counted Iggy Pop/the Stooges, Golden Earring, the Raspberries, Ted Nugent and MC5 among his clients. He began his career in the late ’60s as tour manager for Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.

“We will be forever grateful for the numerous contributions he made to the success of our company”

He had been an ILMC member since 2002.

“All of us at APA are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and partner, Troy Blakely,” Jim Gosnell, president and CEO of APA, says. “We will be forever grateful for the numerous contributions he made to the success of our company over the past 25 years.

“He will be dearly missed.”

 


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‘The envy of the world’: How public funds boost Canadian music

Agent Jack Ross, the newly appointed co-head of APA in Canada, has hailed Canadian authorities’ support for music businesses as being key to the health of its thriving live music industry.

Speaking to IQ for issue 74’s Canada market report, Ross identifies the grants provided by federal, provincial and municipal governments for events where live music is a major component as a significant contributor to the success of Canada’s concert market, which at US$711m (C$907m) is the world’s seventh largest (see PwC figures from the ITY 2017).

“That support,” he says, “really makes the Canadian music business the envy of the world, quite frankly.”

“It’s robust,” agrees Jim Cressman, president of Pentiction, British Columbia-based Invictus Entertainment Group, which books and promotes 500–700 concerts per year at multiple venues. “The right artist at the right price,” says Cressman, “almost always does predictable business.”

Though no national study has yet been done on the live music industry, an economic impact analysis of the business in Ontario – Canada’s most populous province and home to the music hub of Toronto – illustrates how important it is to the Canadian economy.

“The right artist at the right price almost always does predictable business”

The Live Music Measures Up study showed that the industry was responsible for 20,000 full-time equivalent jobs in 2013 and that spending by live music companies and the tourism activity generated by music festivals together contributed just under C$1.2bn to Ontario’s gross domestic product.

While optimism was expressed by most people interviewed for the market report, the Canadian live music industry isn’t without its challenges. These include the secondary ticketing market, which the Ontario government is trying to curtail with new (albeit not universally supported) legislation, and the low value of the Canadian dollar compared to its American counterpart, which can in turn work to the advantage of homegrown artists who get paid in ‘loonies’.

“Every time we put an offer in for a US artist, a dollar is costing us C$1.35,” says Louis Thomas, president and owner of Sonic Entertainment Group, a Halifax, Nova Scotia-based concert promotion and artist management company that also owns a record label and recording studio. “That has a big impact on ticket prices, at the end of the day.”

Read the full market report, which focuses on Canada’s major promoters, venues, festivals and more, here.

 


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O Canada: market report

Canada’s economy has led G7 nations in growth in 2017, and that momentum seems to have carried over to the live music industry to a large degree.

“It’s robust,” says Jim Cressman, president of Pentiction, British Columbia-based Invictus Entertainment Group, which books and promotes 500-700 concerts per year at multiple venues. “The right artist at the right price almost always does predictable business.”

Though no national study has yet been done on the live music industry, an economic impact analysis of the business in Ontario – Canada’s most populous province and home to the music hub of Toronto – illustrated how important it is. The Live Music Measures Up study showed that the industry was responsible for 20,000 full-time equivalent jobs in 2013 and that spending by live music companies and the tourism activity generated by music festivals together contributed just under C$1.2billion (€0.8bn) to Ontario’s gross domestic product.

Those numbers have likely increased, and can be extrapolated across the country, according to Erin Benjamin, executive director of Music Canada Live, which was created in the fall of 2014 to advance and promote the live music industry’s many economic, social and cultural benefits.

The concert industry received an extra boost in 2017 due to Canada’s sesquicentennial, as communities across the country often included live music in their celebrations of the nation’s 150th birthday.

While the Canadian recording industry has benefited from national sources of funding – including the Canada Music Fund, the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR), Radio Starmaker Fund, VideoFACT, PromoFACT and the SOCAN Foundation – and broadcasters being legally obliged to play a minimum amount of Canadian content, the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government also provide grants for events and festivals where live music is a major component.

“That support really makes the Canadian music business the envy of the world, quite frankly,” says Jack Ross, who heads the newly opened Canadian office of the Los Angeles-based APA talent agency along with Ralph James.

The concert industry received an extra boost in 2017 due to Canada’s sesquicentennia

But that’s not stopping Music Canada Live and its more than 125 members – including concert promoters, festivals, presenters, venues, agents, ticketing companies, industry associations and suppliers – from advocating for policy advancement and increased funding, public awareness and research.

“Live music hasn’t effectively told its story with a united voice, and it’s my job to do that,” says Benjamin. “When we’re truly united by this association, whether it’s with me or ten executive directors from now, we will be the most powerful piece of Canada’s music industry because of the connection between artists and fans.”

Shawn Sakamoto, vice-president of Lethbridge, Alberta-based live event production and management company Sakamoto Entertainment, would like to see Canadian content regulations introduced to the domestic live music sector, which he believes has suffered due to “monopolisation of the touring market by entities such as Live Nation” and other multinational companies. He advocates Canadian artists being added to national tours by international performers in order to give them further exposure.

Confidence in Canada from American companies was shown this summer when, after LA-based United Talent Agency closed its Canadian office, APA and LA-based Paradigm Talent Agency both opened up shop in Toronto. They join the Feldman Agency and Paquin Artists Agency as Canada’s largest, while several smaller domestic agencies are also active.

“That competition is going to be a good thing for Canadian artists, and it will be a good thing for the music industry overall,” says Ross.

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 74: