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Best of 2022: The Long Tale of Coda

Ahead of the return of our daily IQ Index newsletter on Tuesday, 3 January, we are revisiting some of our most popular interviews from the last 12 months. On our final flashback, here, Coda agency’s founders look back on 20 years of operations in the wake of becoming part of Wasserman Music…

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!”

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.”

This article originally appeared in Issue 111 of IQ Magazine.


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IQ 111 out now: The Long Tale of Coda

IQ 111, the latest issue of the international live music industry’s favourite monthly magazine, is available to read online now.

The June edition celebrates 20 years since the launch of Coda with the talent agency’s founders, tracking its history and looking to the future in the wake of the evolved company’s acquisition by Wasserman Music.

In addition, we reflect on ILMC’s Brave New World-themed gathering after the conference made a successful return to physical form, and commemorate the richly-deserving winners of this year’s Arthur Awards.

Elsewhere, the magazine dissects the supply chain problems currently plaguing the business and speaks to experts in search of solutions, while a separate feature examines some of the challenges and opportunities for suppliers of event infrastructure. Plus, we provide a health check on the seemingly buoyant Swiss market.

For this edition’s columns and comments, Lorenz Schmid details MUCcc Arena’s ambition to become Germany’s first climate-neutral arena and Class of ’21 New Bosses alumni Theo Quiblier urges others to share stories of their failures and be honest about insecurities.

In this month’s Your Shout, meanwhile, execs including Geoff Ellis (DF Concerts), Dmitry Zaretsky (Pop Farm) and Will Holdoway (Method Events) reveal the act they rank as their greatest festival discovery.

As always, the majority of the magazine’s content will appear online in some form in the next four weeks.

However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe to IQ for just £7.99 a month – or check out what you’re missing out on with the limited preview below:


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The decade in live: 2015

The start of a new year and, perhaps more significantly, a new decade is fast approaching – and while many may be thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve plans and well-meaning 2020 resolutions, IQ is casting its mind back to the most pivotal industry moments of the last ten years.

Following on from a strong year in 2014, the live music industry in 2015 continued to go from strength to strength, with fans once again showing willingness to spend money on concert tickets.

After the success of their first all-stadia tour, British boyband One Direction embarked on another mammoth concert tour, which came in at number two on the year-end charts, despite the departure of band member Zayn Malik two months in. The tour was the beginning of the end for the band, which went on indefinite hiatus the following year.

2015 was a busy year in the live business, notably seeing the birth of Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff’s Oak View Group. It was also the year that the Robert Sillerman’s rebirthed SFX Entertainment began to run into some serious trouble…


2015 in numbers

The top 100 worldwide tours grossed more than US$4.7 billion in 2015, up 14% from the year before but falling short of 2013’s $5bn. Ticket sales were also up, increasing by 16% to 59.7m, again lower than the 2013 total of 63.3m. The average ticket price in 2015 was down $3.30 to $78.80.

Taylor Swift was the top touring artist of the year, grossing $250.4m with her The 1989 world tour. The singer generated nearly $200m in North America alone, smashing the previous record of $162m set by the Rolling Stones in 2005.

One Direction also had a successful year with the On the Road Again tour, coming in behind Swift with year-end gross at $210.2m and selling 2.4m tickets, the most of any artist that year. AC/DC made $180m in ticket sales on their biggest tour to date, with U2’s Innocence + Experience grossing $152.2m and Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highway tour totalling $127m.


2015 in brief

Live Nation takes control of Austin City Limits and Lollapalooza promoter C3 Presents, paying a reported $125m for a 51% stake.

Austrian concert organiser Arcadia agrees a new partnership with four German companies – Four Artists, Chimperator Live, KKT and FKP Scorpio – to found Arcadia Live, a new
concert agency.

Live Nation agrees a joint venture with Thailand-based entertainment firm BEC-Tero. The new company, Live Nation BEC-Tero, will promote concerts by Western, J-Pop and K-Pop artists in the region, a pursuit in which BEC-Tero’s concerts division is already a market leader locally.

The Agency Group acquires UK-based electronic music agency Futureboogie, whose roster includes the likes of Bonobo, Crazy P and Nightmares on Wax.

The state of Washington passes a bill to outlaw ticket bots in an attempt to clamp down on the computer software that often prevents humans from buying seats online for concerts and sporting events. The move brings the number of states that have banned bots to 13.

A group of artists including Chris Martin, Calvin Harris, Madonna, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Jay Z, Kanye West, Daft Punk, Alicia Keys, Jack White and Nicki Minaj launch a new streaming service called Tidal, which is described as the first artist-owned platform for music and video.

The O2 arena in London announces that it has sold its 15 millionth ticket. The building, which opened in June 2007, has consistently been the most popular live music venue in the world, with research conducted by Media Insight Consulting claiming that 30% of the UK population has attended The O2 complex at least once.

The decade in live: 2015

One Direction perform on the On the Road Again tour without Malik (© vagueonthehow/Flickr (CC BY 2.0))

ILMC launches the International Festival Forum, which aims to help strengthen the relationship between event organisers and agents. The London-based event is set to feature partner agencies such as Coda, The Agency Group, Primary Talent and X-ray Touring who will showcase festival-ready acts to promoters from around the world.

Australian media company Nine Entertainment sells its live events companies Nine Live and Ticketek to Asian private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners for AUD$640m ($480m).

Sydney-based Soapbox Artists, which grew out of the Australian wing of Ministry of Sound, announces its merger with the Melbourne-based 360 Agency. The combined EDM agencies will be a significant player in the dance market, representing a large roster of DJ and producer talent.

Live Nation acquires a controlling stake in American festival Bonnaroo. Under the terms of the deal, current promoters Superfly and AC Entertainment will continue to programme and run the event.

AEG agrees an extended deal with America’s International Speedway Corporation (ISC), allowing the company’s AEG Live division to look at organising concerts at racetracks around the country. ISC owns 13 raceways, including such iconic arenas as Daytona and Watkins Glen.

The Foo Fighters cancel a number of shows after frontman Dave Grohl breaks his leg during a concert in Sweden. Despite a nasty fracture, however, Grohl makes headlines around the world by returning to complete the Gothenburg show, receiving medical attention on stage.

The decade in live: 2015

The main stage at Bonnaroo (© Shawn Mariani/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.5))

German promoter Deutsche Entertainment AG and its UK offshoots Kilimanjaro Live and Raymond Gubbay Ltd, have set-up a company to sell tickets for their British shows. MyTicket.co.uk will expand the MyTicket concept that has already been running in Germany for six months.

The Windish Agency and Paradigm Talent Agency agree a partnership deal to form one of the world’s biggest independent agency operations, bringing The Windish Agency together with Paradigm partner agencies AM Only and Coda Music Agency, as well as Paradigm itself.

Live Nation Entertainment forms Live Nation Concerts Germany with German concert promoter Marek Lieberberg to promote concerts and festivals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

William Morris agent Sol Parker jumps ship to Coda Agency, taking Take That, The Prodigy and Rita Ora with him.

United Talent Agency completes its acquisition of The Agency Group.

Live Nation acquires venue and festival operator MAMA & Company, returning a number of former Live Nation assets to its portfolio.

The decade in live: 2015

Marek Lieberberg (© Sven Mandel/Wikimedia Deutschland (CC BY-SA 4.0)) 

Australian promoter Andrew McManus is arrested at Melbourne Airport on charges of money laundering and the importation of 300 kilograms of cocaine. McManus is one of five people arrested in Australia and the United States as part of an FBI investigation.

Disgruntled investors hit SFX with a lawsuit claiming they were deceived with false and misleading statements over the company’s privatisation plans.

Ebay-owned secondary ticketing platform StubHub launches in Germany.

Pandora completes a $450m takeover of specialist ticketing agency Ticketfly.

Several preliminary bids are reportedly submitted for EDM promoter SFX in addition to that from CEO Robert Sillerman, who bid to buy back the company for $3.25 per share.

SFX promotes former IQ new boss Sebastian Solano to CEO of ID&T North America.

Ex-AEG chief Tim Leiweke forms live entertainment investment firm Oak View Group with Irving Azoff.

Ex-Done Events chief Thomas Ovesen is named CEO of new Dubai-based live music company 117 Live.

Live Nation UK vice-president Steve Homer and senior vice-president Toby Leighton-Pope leave the company.

The decade in live: 2015

B.B. King, 1925-2015 (cropped) (© Tom.Beetz/Flickr (CC BY 2.0))


Who we lost

Mike Porcaro, bassist for Toto; blues legend B.B. King; John Gammon, Pollstar’s UK/Europe correspondent; veteran promoter and ILMC member, Paul King; Stage Entertainment’s project manager Sjoerd Unger; Live Nation venue chief David Vickers; U2 tour manager Dennis Sheehan.


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A new Paradigm for Coda

On becoming Paradigm…

Mike Malak: It’s exciting to work with a like-minded team who are ready to embrace the future of the business. We share synergies in the way that we work: for example, [neither Paradigm US or UK] believe in ‘one strategy works for all’, and so we strategise on our clients’ careers with a unique approach.

Having been in partnership with Paradigm for the last five years, we have been able to exponentially grow global acts such as Shawn Mendes and Billie Eilish to heights we wouldn’t have been able to without the support of our transatlantic colleagues.

Anna Bewers: In the relatively short time I have been here, the whole company has been incredibly welcoming and proactive in sharing tips and teaming up on acts. We are on the same wavelength in terms of being artist-centric. Plus they have amazing rosters!

Mike Malak: I am excited about developing the brand further internationally, and giving our clients a sense of cohesion throughout the business. Having a unified business that is fully aligned on values and messaging is extremely important, especially to those who we work with externally.

Anna Bewers: I think Coda and Paradigm had seen real success in the partnership over the past five years, so it made total sense to become one company. Before I joined, I think I felt it was inevitable.

It’s a move I definitely welcome. Change can be scary, but to me this seems like a natural progression of the two companies already working together so closely.

As an indie agency, you simply cannot compete on a global level

On agency sector consolidation…

MM: The business is simply following the evolution of the world and its consumption habits. As a united business we are stronger, more collaborative and can offer our clients a true 360 service. It’s about having an experienced, diverse team, whereby we can all learn from each other.

As an indie agency, you simply cannot compete on a global level. Artists are sharing their music in ways that are totally different from before. With the rise of social-media platforms such as Instagram and Soundcloud, a new generation of artists are connecting with fans on a level that was previously unobtainable. Therefore, knowledge in these areas is key – as is understanding the data and cultural relevance around this.

We have to explore how it impacts touring, how we can leverage it to take the artist further, what new ways of thinking and approaches we can implement to break new ground and truly connect with an audience, etc.

AB: Just because an agency is deemed corporate, it doesn’t mean the personality and skills of an agent are lost. When we pitch, it’s about our passion for the artist. I have worked with the majority of my clients from the very beginning and they have stayed with me through my recent change.

Paradigm gives us a global platform and the tools that come with that will only make an agent stronger. It’s a global music industry and the consolidation just reflects that.

MM: Having an international scope on these ideas only benefits the wider agency, and discussions filled with valuable expertise allows us to excel at it.

We are still the same dysfunctional Coda family we have always been

On the future…

MM: The live industry is ever changing, from how tickets are purchased to the types of shows fans want to go see. We strive to stay at the forefront of the changes and consistently look towards the future of the business, which I believe will definitely be achieved through our merger with multiple brilliant minds feeding into bigger ideas.

AB: We now have a worldwide platform that will continue moving towards more globally focused artist representation.

What won’t change? The personalities here definitely won’t change, and that’s one thing that really attracted me to the company. The artist comes first. We are here to build long-term careers, and that certainly wont change either; it’s an ethos we already shared. 

MM: We may be Paradigm UK now, but we are still the same dysfunctional Coda family we have always been! That can-do spirit remains and is what makes us go that step further for our clients… We will always embody the non-corporate and hands-on attitude which has taken us this far.

I am so excited to see what the next decade looks like for the newly formed Paradigm family.


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Paradigm’s Tom Schroeder: Captain of industry

Spend any amount of time with Tom Schroeder and you cannot help but be impressed by his cerebral dissection of the music industry and his ability to sniff out opportunities and identify changes, big and small, that can be made to improve the work/life balance for staff at Paradigm, and, crucially, the artists that they represent.

“A lot of people are shocked to hear millennials demanding a different kind of lifestyle but at Paradigm we are approaching that in another way – maybe it’s the millennials who have got the work/life balance right and we should be learning from them,” he notes at one point, when musing on how ridiculously all-consuming the business can easily become.

That empathetic, open-minded attitude was prevalent at Coda and remains evident to anyone visiting the now Paradigm UK offices in central London, where the company’s 100-plus employees enjoy a progressive environment that is a pleasure to conduct business in. But that’s a far cry from Schroeder’s own early career experiences when he admits to overworking to the extent that he is still recovering to this day.

“For the first five years as an agent, I didn’t have a holiday and I think it’s taken an additional 15 years to unpick the damage that did to me,” he says. “Stress is a very real issue as an agent and in an agency. For sure many of us are in a privileged position, but that doesn’t mean you don’t feel the pressure. We have seen it at all levels of the company, and are now taking a very proactive approach to dealing with it and preventing it impacting on everyone’s well-being.”

Towing the line
That caring side to Tom’s nature is, perhaps, inherited as his mother was a social worker before going on to become the head of education for the London borough of Camden, earning a CBE for her efforts.

“For the first five years as an agent, I didn’t have a holiday and I think it’s taken an additional 15 years to unpick the damage that did to me”

Born in West London, Tom grew up in a sailing family and was a sporty child. “I wasn’t into music much at school, but I competed at national and international level as a windsurfer,” he reveals. That all ended at 17, “when I inevitably discovered the things that we all do as teenagers…”

Faced with a common teenage choice, Tom somewhat followed in his mum’s footsteps by opting to study sociology at university although as his dad worked for Guinness, he also significantly contributed to that side of family lineage during his years at the University of Nottingham.

“Most 19 year olds need a few years to work out who they are, and that’s definitely what university gave me,” he says. “Meeting people from all walks of life was really important, and I’m still friends with a lot of them. But I horsed around and probably got the lowest 2:1 in Nottingham University history because they felt sorry for me.”

He admits, “When I arrived in Nottingham, I thought about how I could become the cool kid on campus. That’s why I decided, with friends, to put on some gigs. Fortunately, for us, there was this very cool Scottish guy, James Bailey, who ran one of the city’s best clubs, The Bomb. He took a chance on us, so we put on Thursday- and Friday-night residencies and we’d go hall to hall in the university, selling tickets.”

Those early residencies also introduced him to someone who he was initially wary of but who would become his mentor and one of his closest friends. “We had a jungle night and Alex Hardee at MPI repped a few acts we wanted to book,” says Schroeder. “Alex had a bit of a reputation, so when we wanted to book DJ Krust, or whoever it was, we ended up getting really stoned and pulling straws to decide who would make the phone call. And, of course, I pulled the short straw.

“My mates warned me it would be too much about business and not about the music. But I ignored them, thank goodness”

“When I called him, he was on another call: ‘Tom, just hold for a minute,’ he said, before on the other line shouting,‘Listen, you Welsh cunt, if I find out where you live, I’ll come and burn your fucking house down.’And then I booked the act with him. That was my first experience of Alex Hardee.”

Knowing that he wanted to pursue some kind of career in music, Schroeder spent a summer in California, where a cousin owned a recording studio. “I tried making dance music but I realised I was nowhere near good enough: proper musicians were at a different level. So I came back to the UK and started thinking about the companies I’d potentially like to work with.”

Perfect Tom-ing
Dance music’s loss was definitely the agency world’s gain – and one company in particular. “It was a Tuesday morning,” says Tom. “I sent a speculative email to MPI, asking if they had any jobs. By a massive coincidence, Phil Banfield had called a staff meeting that same day where he announced that he wanted to find a young, motivated kid to look for and sign new talent. My timing was perfect.”

What wasn’t perfect was the resulting job interview. “In the room were Phil, Alex, Cris [Hearn] and Gemma [Peppé]. Within a couple of minutes, Alex said he had emails to check and walked out. Cris did the same about a minute later, followed quickly by Gemma. So I thought I’d blown it.”

However, Tom exploited the one-on-one situation to learn about the business and spent the next 90 minutes quizzing Banfield. His enthusiasm struck a chord, and a few days later, he was offered a job. “My mates warned me it would be too much about business and not about the music. But I ignored them, thank goodness, as 20 years later I’m still at the same company, albeit after a couple of name changes.”


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ATC Live agent Chris Meredith passes, aged 37

Chris Meredith, agent at ATC Live and festival director at Neverworld Music Festival, has passed away at the age of 37.

Lee Denny, Neverworld founder says, “Chris had a rare and wonderful character. His unwavering dedication to supporting the projects, artists and music he loved was unmatched.

“Throughout our time together as friends and colleagues, and all the highs and lows that came with them, Chris could be relied upon to be gentle, supportive and kind in every interaction.”

A much-loved member of the live music community, Meredith worked with artists including We Are Scientists, Sleeper, Fazerdaze and the Veils in his role at ATC Live.

“Chris had a rare and wonderful character. His unwavering dedication to supporting the projects, artists and music he loved was unmatched”

ATC Live’s Alex Bruford says, “Chris joined us in 2015 and brought a wealth of knowledge to the company. As well as being a talented agent, he was a wonderful, kind, funny and generous man and a good friend to many across the industry. We will miss him deeply.”

Previously, Meredith had spent time at Coda Agency and ITB, as well as working on various aspects of Nozstock: The Hidden Valley Festival, Red Rooster Festival and running his own promotions company.

Latitude festival’s Ed Lilo says, “From co-promoting DIY shows in Brighton to being a top sounding board [and sometimes agent!] for me at Festival Republic, Chris was always a smart, funny and genuine human and I miss him tremendously. Sad times.”

Paradigm’s Alex Hardee adds, “Chris was a very lovely guy who still had a lot of friends at Coda ( I know we are called Paradigm now) – it has really hit some of them hard that he is now gone and at such a young age. Condolences to the family, he will be sorely missed.”


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Paradigm signs LeAnn Rimes

Paradigm Talent Agency has signed two-time Grammy award-winning vocalist and artist LeAnn Rimes, for global representation across all fields.

Rimes will continue to be managed by Darrell Brown at Prodigy Management.

“LeAnn is one of the most prolific voices of our time,” says Paradigm worldwide head of music, Marty Diamond. “As a pioneer of making music that transcends across all platforms for the better part of two decades, she continues to be a genre-bending, trailblazing talent with a voice ahead of her time.”

Paradigm Nashville co-head Jonathan Levine adds that the team is “honoured” to have Rimes join the Paradigm family and “excited to support her as she continues to push the music industry forward.”

“LeAnn is one of the most prolific voices of our time”

The country singer was the youngest-ever recipient of a Grammy award, winning best new artist at age 14. Rimes has also won two world music awards, three academy of country music awards, one country music association award, twelve Billboard music awards and one Dove award.

“I’m so excited to be teaming up with the global team at Paradigm in this next chapter of my career,” writes the singer on Twitter. “We are diving in to so much beautiful creation at the moment and I cannot wait to share our magic with everyone soon.”

Paradigm’s roster of globally represented artists includes Halsey, Imagine Dragons, Janet Jackson, Billie Eilish, Kacey Musgraves, Tiësto, Liam Gallagher, Missy Elliott, Shawn Mendes, Sia, Kenny Chesney, Jess Glynne, Charli XCX, Bastille and Sturgill Simpson.

London-based Coda Agency formally merged into Paradigm – its parent company – in July, following a similar rebranding of AM Only and Windish Agency in the US.


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London’s Coda Agency rebrands as Paradigm

After five years as partners, London’s Coda Agency has formally merged into its Los Angeles-based parent company, Paradigm Talent Agency, becoming Paradigm London, the companies announced this morning (22 July).

Coda partners Alex Hardee, Tom Schroeder, James Whitting and Dave Hallybone will continue to lead the London office, now under the Paradigm banner.

Prior to becoming one agency, Paradigm and Coda hared more than 500 clients. Paradigm’s roster of globally represented artists includes Halsey, Imagine Dragons, Janet Jackson, Billie Eilish, Kacey Musgraves, Tiësto, Liam Gallagher, Missy Elliott, Shawn Mendes, Sia, Kenny Chesney, Jess Glynne, Charli XCX, Bastille and Sturgill Simpson.

With Coda’s roster merging into Paradigm’s, the agency also handles representation outside North America for Bon Iver, Ellie Goulding, FKA Twigs, Lewis Capaldi, Liam Payne, Mark Ronson, Pusha T, Rag’n’Bone Man, Rita Ora, Robyn and Take That.

Paradigm first acquired a stake in Coda in early 2014, when the companies joined forces to pool their expertise and resources globally.

“The success of Paradigm’s partnership with Coda has shown there are no longer borders in the global music industry”

Coda’s partnerships with Independent Talent Group, the London film/literary agency, and AI data start-up Instrumental will continue as part of Paradigm (the former under the leadership of the London office), as will initiatives such as the Equalising Music Pledge, which aims to achieve greater gender balance in the industry, and the environmentally friendly Green Artist Rider, launched at ILMC in March.

Coda’s transformation into Paradigm comes two years after a similar rebranding exercise in the US, when AM Only’s Paul Morris and the Windish Agency’s Tom Windish formally folded their respective agencies into Paradigm.

Paradigm also has a strategic partnership with X-ray Touring, who are equal partners in a London-based joint venture.

Commenting on Coda’s rebrand, Sam Gores, Paradigm Talent Agency’s chairman and CEO, says: “Coda and Paradigm have had tremendous success throughout our five-year partnership, creating opportunities and building enduring careers for a roster of exceptional talent.

“We look forward to the next chapter as one global company, driven by agents who share an unwavering focus on the artists we represent and the art they create.”

“We look forward to the next chapter as one global company”

“We have achieved the impossible: we found some Americans that we actually get along with,” jokes outspoken Coda partner Alex Hardee. Fellow partner Tom Schroeder adds: “We are A&R leaders, building creative plans for our clients in an industry that is in a constant state of change.

“Merging with Paradigm enables us to evolve and challenge a very dynamic marketplace. With this larger Paradigm platform, we can span the globe without losing our personality, ambition, individualism and innovative approach.”

Paradigm was recently linked with a takeover by LA rival United Talent Agency (UTA), which could have involved integrating Coda and X-ray, then both operating independently, into UTA London. However, Gores later revealed he turned down a “historic” offer from UTA for Paradigm, saying the agency had more power as an independent.

“The success of Paradigm’s partnership with Coda has shown there are no longer borders in the global music industry – or within our two companies,” comments Marty Diamond, Paradigm’s head of global music. “Now, as one company, we will continue to leverage our integrated approach in everything we do.”


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“Special” Meduza were June’s fastest-growing new act

Rising Italian producers Meduza, who reached No2 in the UK singles chart in February with their breakthrough, ‘Piece of My Heart’, were the hottest new artists in June 2019, the latest Radar Station chart reveals.

Hailing from Milan, the trio – Mattia Vitale, Simone Giani and Luca De Gregorio – were signed to Polydor in the UK and Virgin in Germany after impressing at Amsterdam Dance Event, in what has been called the “hottest signing in recent years”. After debuting with a remix of Friendly Fires’ ‘Heaven Let Me In’, their first original material, house smash ‘Piece of Your Heart’, featuring British act Goodboys, picked up more than 7m streams on Spotify and 6m on YouTube in the space of two months, and also propelled them to the top of the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

CAA’s Ben Kouijzer, who represents the band outside North America, tells IQ: “When Serg and Kevin from Club Class/Komplete played me ‘Piece of Your Heart’ at ADE, it was love at first listen – I knew Meduza had something special. They had just signed the record to Virgin Germany and Polydor UK in a JV, and we all believed it would be the biggest dance record of the year.”

Despite the “incredible commercial success” of ‘Piece of Your Heart’, Kouijzer says Team Meduza have focused establishing “foundations in the underground club circuit at cutting-edge house venues, nurturing a grassroots fanbase of house music lovers” and setting the stage for festival performances and headline shows beyond 2020.

“We all believed it would be the biggest dance record of the year”

The Radar Station algorithm calculates the fastest-growing new artists by combining data across a number of online platforms, including Spotify, Facebook, Songkick and Last.fm. Last month’s No1 was Texas-born rapper Megan thee Stallion, who become the first artist to successful defend her title, after initially topping the chart in April.

In second place in June was New Zealand folk singer-songwriter Aldous Harding (repped by ATC Live’s Clémence Renau in Europe), who climbs from No28, while Jade Bird (booked in the UK by Olly Hodgson at Coda) rose one place, to fourth, in a consecutive strong showing for the Tony Visconti-approved Brit.

See below for a Spotify playlist of this month’s top 20, plus the full chart with links to artists’ Facebook pages and booking agency details.

This monthLast monthArtistCountryAgency
1-MeduzaItalyCAA (RoW), Spin (US)
228Aldous HardingNZATC (Europe), Panache (US), Collective Artists (Aus), Julian Carswell (NZ)
34Jade BirdUKCoda (UK), Paradigm (US)
414No RomeUKPrimary, Paradigm
539NOTDSwedenCoda (Europe), WME (RoW)
62Fontaines DCRepublic of IrelandATC (Europe), Paradigm (US)
737Jakob OgawaNorwayTime Out (Norway), Primary (Europe), Paradigm (Americas)
842Emotional OrangesUSX-ray Touring, WME
96Maisie PetersUKCAA (excl. N. America)
109Kelsey LuUSWME, Primary
125Lolo ZouaïUSParadigm (N. America), Coda (RoW)
1394Slow LightsUS-
1433Leven KaliUSUTA (excl. N. America)
1555ElohimUSCircle, Coda
1718Flora CashSwedenUTA (RoW), Paradigm (Americas)
1878YeekUSParadigm (US), Coda (Europe)
1931Julia JacklinAustraliaCollective (Aus/NZ), ATC (Europe), Paradigm (N. America)

For more details about the Radar Station, contact [email protected].


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UTA and Paradigm to merge?

Could UTA and Paradigm be set to merge? According to a story published yesterday by Billboard, the two agency giants have been in talks for months about a potential merger or acquisition of a controlling stake by UTA.

Written by Amplify founder Dave Brooks, the story alleges that UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer has been in talks for several months with Paradigm chairman Sam Gores, and that “the recent IPO of Endeavor, which owns agency WME and is seeking to raise $500 million through a public offering, has accelerated the discussions.”

A deal would play to each company’s strengths in the US – UTA’s in comedy, film and TV, and Paradigm’s in music – although with music the dominant focus for both operations in London, the international impact may be more unsettled.

Both companies have grown their business through strategic acquisition in recent years. UTA increased its foothold in music in 2015 by purchasing The Agency Group, while Paradigm has built a significant music presence by tying up agencies including The Windish Agency, AM Only, Monterey International and Morris Higham Management, and Coda and X-ray Touring in the UK.

UTA’s global head of music is David Zedeck, while Paradigm promoted Marty Diamond to the same role in April. According to Billboard, “decisions about leadership of the music department are still being worked out.”

Competitors CAA and WME have both fuelled growth via private equity investments of late, CAA with TPG Capital, Temasek Holdings & China Media Capital, and WME with Silver Lake Partners, Softbank & GIC amongst others. And with UTA having sold a monitory stake to Investcorp and PSP Investments in August 2018, there is speculation that a merged entity could be set for an IPO and that “a new phase of high-level agency mergers and acquisitions will soon begin.”

The news is likely to surprise many in London, where Coda and X-ray Touring occupy separate offices a half mile either side of UTA’s on Pentonville Road. With the two Paradigm-affiliated agencies still operating independently, integrating with UTA could prove challenging.

IQ has approached both UTA and Paradigm for comment.

Read the full Billboard story here.


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