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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

January
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.

February
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.

March
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))

April
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).

May
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.

June
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))

July
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.

August
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)) 

September
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.

October
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.

November
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.

December
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.”

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 85, or subscribe to the magazine here

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
1130DynoroLithuaniaCoda
125Lolo ZouaïUSParadigm (N. America), Coda (RoW)
1394Slow LightsUS-
1433Leven KaliUSUTA (excl. N. America)
1555ElohimUSCircle, Coda
1650MorMorCanadaWME
1718Flora CashSwedenUTA (RoW), Paradigm (Americas)
1878YeekUSParadigm (US), Coda (Europe)
1931Julia JacklinAustraliaCollective (Aus/NZ), ATC (Europe), Paradigm (N. America)
2026Col3traneUKPrimary

For more details about the Radar Station, contact info@theradarstation.com.au.

 


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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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New signings and rising stars (May-June 2019)

Belako (ES)

Agent: Matt Bates, Primary Talent

Hailing from Mungia in the Basque Country, Belako (Josu Ximun Billelabeitia, Lore Nekane Billelabeitia, Lander Zalakain and Cristina Lizarraga) have been playing non-stop throughout Europe for the last two years, including at some of Spain’s biggest festivals.

They won Radio3 and Gaztea awards in 2012; Best New Band awards from Rolling Stone and MIN in 2015; RNE’s Best Modern Music Band gong in 2016; the Best Live Award at both MIN and the Iberian Music Awards in 2017; and last year saw them add MIN’s Best Band, Best Live and Best Video (for ‘Render Me Numb’) to their growing list of accolades.

Belako are high intensity with hypnotic melodies, great riffs, amazing bass rhythms and powerful drums. Every live show goes from the darkness to the light, from the 80s through to the 21st century, from sweet vocals to screams.

With three albums now under their belts, Belako have been honing their stage presence by playing 100+ gigs per year, and with dates across Europe, the USA, Mexico, Russia, Japan, Korea and the Philippines, they have been steadily growing their international fan base, too.

 


Belako, George Gretton: new signings and rising stars
George Gretton (UK)

Agent: Sol Parker, Coda Agency

Art-pop and alternative R&B are just two of the genres that can be applied to George Gretton’s debut Tread Water. Growing up in Nottingham and now London-based, the multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer is sculpting a forward-thinking and trendless sound that’s distinctly his, via atypical arrangements, experimental processing and fitful drum samples.

Tread Water was written at a time when I didn’t really have a musical identity or lyrics to draw inspiration from. I had just started to teach myself basic production and I had become fascinated with vocal manipulation and using a contrast between organic and artificial sounds to tell different sides of the same situation,” says Gretton.

“I suddenly found that writing with obscure instrumentation gave me a lot of creative freedom, and the lyrics and arrangement came together pretty quickly after that.”

Out of that desire for musical identity, Gretton’s creative freedom flourished, and he is now making music akin to such iconic artists as Ben Khan, James Blake and with echoes of Bon Iver. The genius in the self- produced Tread Water is in its understated simplicity; organic sounds perfectly collide with electronic, pulling focus to the innovative and stellar songwriting.

 


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25th Arthur Awards: all the winners

The 25th anniversary of the Arthur Awards, the international live music industry’s answer to the Oscars, took place at London’s Sheraton Grand Park Lane last night.

The awards – which have a voting pool of over 6,000 of the world’s leading concert business professionals – took place in front of a 350-strong sell-out crowd at the magical ILMC Gala Hou-dinner.

Glastonbury’s Ben Challis hosted the special anniversary ceremony, which saw a line up of guest presenters including WME Entertainment partner Michele Bernstein and WME agent Kara James.

X-ray Touring partner Steve Strange, Artist Group International president Marsha Vlasic and NEC Group chairman Phil Mead were among the list of guest presenters.

“It was wonderful to see the great and good of the international live business rubbing shoulders to recognise their peers”

“The 25th Arthur Awards were an amazing celebration of the talent we have in our industry, which brings joy to so many millions around the world,” says ILMC head Greg Parmley.

“With thousands of votes cast and counted, it was wonderful to see the great and good of the international live business rubbing shoulders to recognise their peers.”

The full list of winners are below:

Venue (First Venue To Come Into Your Head)
Royal Albert Hall, UK

Promoter (The Promoters’ Promoter)
Folkert Koopmans, FKP Scorpio

Festival (Liggers’ Favourite Festival)
British Summer Time Hyde Park, UK

Agent (Second Least Offensive Agent)
Lucy Dickins, ITB

Production Services (Services Above and Beyond)
PRG

Professional Services (Most Professional Professional)
Selina Emeny, Live Nation

New Gig on the Block (New Event)
Mad Cool Festival, Spain

Assistant (The People’s Assistant)
Claire Bewers, Coda Agency

Ticketing (The Golden Ticket)
CTS Eventim

New Business Talent (Tomorrow’s New Boss)
Kevin Jergensen, ICM Partners

Best in Show (Family Show)
Cirque du Soleil

The Bottle Award
Bryan Grant, Britannia Row

 


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