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New signings continue during corona lockdown

Nearly three months into the shutdown of virtually all concert touring globally, booking agents and artist managers continue to discover and sign new talent, with many using the opportunity to bolster their rosters in anticipation of live music’s return, they tell IQ.

“Discovering new talent is a big part of the agent’s job, and since many of us are stuck at home with no shows happening currently, that gives us extra time to listen to new music and get interested in new artists, even more so than before,” says Belgian agent Guillaume Brevers, who left London’s ATC Live to set up his own agency, Hometown Talent, earlier this year.

“I believe it wasn’t the case in the first few weeks following [the outbreak of] the virus, as most of the agents were really busy postponing their tours, discussing festival cancellations, etc. But more recently, I personally have found I have more free time to focus on new music.”

Similarly, Dominik Meyer of Austria’s Cobra Agency tells IQ that while the early days of pandemic were largely spent dealing with cancellations and postponements, there is now definitely “more time to listen to music and explore new stuff”.

One London-based agent (who asked not be named) says he, too, has been signing new acts during the shutdown, as there are “things that I am definitely excited about and that I feel I need to sign now.” He adds that discovering new talent gives him a feeling of normality in strange times – as well as “a sense that there is a business to come back to.”

“Signing new talent is a good way for agents to remain proactive while no tours are taking place”

Also keeping calm and carrying on is Australian artist manager Andrew Stone, who leads Chugg Music, the management, publishing and label division of Michael Chugg’s Chugg Entertainment. Chugg Music’s most recent signing is Mason Watts, who agreed a label deal with the influencer-focused City Pop Records late last month.

With City Pop, says Stone, “we’re looking to sign artists now more than ever. There’s a focus on artists who have developed in the influencer/social media space” – City Pop’s first signing was TikTok star Mia Rodriguez – “so we feel at least somewhat prepared for a more online model of artist development. I think it’s a good time to build catalogue and grow communities on streaming, socials and radio, so that when the artists are heading out on the road in the future they have more than two songs that people know.”

Signing new talent is “a good way [for agents] to remain proactive” while no tours are taking place, comments Brevers, “so when things hopefully get back to normal, agents will be effective immediately and ready to provide their clients with the service they deserve”.

“In an industry where everything happens especially fast, I’m taking advantage of this new free time to think about new ways to reinvent myself as an agent,” he adds, “as well as how this industry could evolve to meet the challenges we’re facing in today’s society.”

Stone says lockdown is “forcing us to get really good at online marketing and collaborations. We are collaborating more than ever with artists across Zoom, and having features from other countries and languages, so that our international audience development isn’t completely halted by our inability to tour.”

“As long as there are engaged audiences, there will be a creative and nimble industry that can make the most of connecting with them”

With the return to full-scale concert touring believed to still be some way off, it depends on the individual agent or manager – and their personal circumstances – whether they’re using their relative downtime to scout for new talent, or just trying to survive, says the London agent.

“I think it comes down to the people,” they say. “Some are nervous about the future and just holding on, and some are understanding that it will pass and that they have to check new things out.”

They’re in the latter camp, they say – and so is Stone. He concludes: “I hope we’re not in denial about the long-term outcomes, but I think that so long as there are engaged audiences, there will be a creative and nimble industry that can make the most of connecting with them – whatever the circumstances.”

IQ launched its monthly New Signings playlist, which features tracks curated by a selection of major booking agencies, last week. Listen here:

IQ launches monthly agency playlist


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Cobra Agency joins forces with ICS, 5B

Newly launched Austrian hard-rock agency Cobra has formed an alliance with US management company 5B and German promoter ICS Festival Service.

“We’re extremely thrilled to announce the partnerships with 5B Artist Management and ICS Festival Service,” says Guenther Beer, who established Cobra Agency in January with fellow former RTN agent Dominik Meyer. “Both of them are absolute leaders in their fields, with 5B managing Slipknot, Stone Sour, Amon Amarth, Megadeth, King Diamond, Behemoth, Kreator, Lamb of God and Trivium, and ICS Festival Service promoting the world’s largest and most famous heavy metal festival, Wacken Open Air, as well as Europe’s biggest metal cruise, Full Metal Cruise.”

While concrete details of the new partnership are still being finalised, Meyer says the joint venture is “going to offer extraordinary opportunities to our clients”.

Cobra’s full roster includes Amaranthe, Amon Amarth, Amorphis, Arch Enemy, Backyard Babies, Battle Beast, Behemoth, Beyond The Black, Blues Pills, Danzig, Eluveitie, Equilibrium, Kreator, Mantar, Me And That Man, Sepultura, Powerwolf, Sabaton, Tesseract, Testament and Watain, all of which it represents throughout Europe.

“We are very much alike: authentic, honest and loud”

“We have known these two successful Austrian guys for quite some time and are happy to be part of this enduring joint venture with our American colleagues,” says Holger Huebner, CEO of ICS Festival Service. “We are very much alike, as we are authentic, honest and loud.”

Justin Arcangel, director of management at 5B, adds: “5B Artist Management is thrilled to announce this new partnership. This alliance is a natural outgrowth of 5B’s core mission: to serve our client roster.

“The Cobra Agency is more than a booking agency. They provide myself and their clients with a wealth of insight with the greatest attention to detail and insight into the European market, and their advice goes into ancillary opportunities that go far beyond the conventional roles of a booking agent.”

 


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Ex-RTN agents launch Cobra Agency

Two of Austria’s best-known international hard rock agents, RTN Touring alumni Dominik Meyer and Guenther Beer, have announced the launch of Cobra Agency, a new boutique booking agency that represents some of the biggest names in metal.

Beer and Meyer – who had been with RTN (Rock the Nation) since 2005 and 2008, respectively – bring their full rosters, which include the likes of Sepultura, Sabaton, Danzig, Testament and Amon Amarth, to the new agency, whose offices are in Salzburg.

“We’re more than excited to announce Cobra Agency,” says Meyer. “Our intention was to form a new agency with a very strong network of contacts and partners that delivers even better services and opportunities to our clients. We’re confident that Cobra will meet these requirements.”

“Our intention was to form a new agency with a very strong network of contacts that delivers even better opportunities to our clients”

Cobra’s full roster includes Amaranthe, Amon Amarth, Amorphis, Arch Enemy, Backyard Babies, Battle Beast, Behemoth, Beyond The Black, Blues Pills, Danzig, Eluveitie, Equilibrium, Kreator, Mantar, Me And That Man, Sepultura, Powerwolf, Sabaton, Tesseract, Testament and Watain, all of which it represents throughout Europe.

“The new company set-up offers our clients a great opportunity to expand their possibilities,” adds Beer. “At the same time, we are able to further extend our strategy of providing innovative services to our clients and improve the comprehensive support and individual care for each of our artists tremendously.”

 


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