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Samantha Kirby Yoh joins UTA Music as co-head

United Talent Agency (UTA) has appointed Samantha Kirby Yoh as co-head, joining David Zedeck in overseeing the company’s worldwide music operations.

Kirby Yoh joins UTA from WME where she served as head of East Coast music, overseeing the New York music department and expanding its businesses into new areas of media and creative brand partnerships.

Kirby also managed a roster of artists at WME including Bjork, Rosalia, LCD Soundsystem, Florence & the Machine, FKA twigs, Grimes, Alicia Keys, James Blake, MIA, Moses Sumney, Channel Tres, Banks, St Vincent, Massive Attack and The Chemical Brothers. Prior to joining WME Kirby Yoh was an agent at Evolution Talent.

“Sam and David see eye-to-eye on how to build a great music business and will be strong partners in leading UTA Music,” says UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer.

“We have long admired Sam’s success working with unique and powerful artists, and we’re thrilled she has chosen to join us. Under their leadership, UTA Music will continue to bring innovative ideas, unparalleled service and collaboration into the lives of artists.”

“There are few agents in music more inventive, collaborative or dynamic than Sam”

Kirby Yoh says: “I am excited to join UTA as they continue to build out their music department to meet, protect and amplify the creativity of the artists they represent. UTA is at the vanguard of investing and sourcing incredibly innovative opportunities for their artists.

“Additionally, I’ve watched with great respect as UTA moves clearly with their intentions to better our music community, becoming leaders in diversity, equity and inclusion. I look forward to partnering with David Zedeck, a friend for more than 20 years and one of the most talented agents and leaders in music. I’m thrilled to get to work.”

Zedeck added: “There are few agents in music more inventive, collaborative or dynamic than Sam and I’m excited she’s agreed to join UTA. We’ve been colleagues and friends for over two decades and there’s no one I’d rather share the responsibility of running our music business with.

“She’s someone I admire and respect tremendously. She’ll bring a unique perspective and outstanding taste to the role, and I look forward to a partnership focused on continuing to build UTA Music into the industry leader.”

Beyond her role as an agent, Kirby Yoh is a founding member of both She Is The Music, which focuses on increasing the number of women working in the global music industry, and Noise for Now, which connects performers to organisations fighting for reproductive rights.

She also sits on the advisory board of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which works to increase diversity in the entertainment industry.

Natalia Nastaskin will continue in her role as general manager of the Global Music Group, working closely with both Kirby Yoh and Zedeck.

 


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UTA lays off 50 staff, reinstates full pay

United Talent Agency (UTA) is laying off around 50 employees, and reinstating full pay for active staff, according to a memo sent to staff yesterday (2 September).

CEO Jeremy Zimmer wrote in the memo that the agency would be reinstating full pay to employees in the next two weeks, after cutting salaries at the beginning of the pandemic, but would also be laying off 50 staffers.

The lay-offs will affect both current and some furloughed employees across several divisions and IQ understands that agents across all UTA offices worldwide, including its London-based European operation, will be affected.

“Our business is recovering, but the need remains to take a hard and honest look at the size and makeup of UTA—and make decisions that reflect what our business requires not just short term but for the foreseeable future,” reads the memo from Zimmer.

“As for our other furloughed colleagues, we are not able to reinstate them at this time and, given the continued uncertainty, we can’t yet set any expectations about when that might happen,” it continues.

“Our business is recovering, but the need remains to take a hard and honest look at the size and makeup of UTA”

It was reported in May that, UTA, which employs more than 1,100 individuals, furloughed 171 staffers in Beverly Hills.

Salary reductions were put in place back in March, prompting Zimmer and co-presidents David Kramer and Jay Sures to announce that they would forgo their 2020 salaries.

The memo also announced that the agency would increase base pay for assistants and hourly-compensated colleagues and the policy for overtime restrictions would be reviewed.

A number of other agencies reduced employee pay, furloughed staff or initiated lay-offs at the beginning of the pandemic.

Paradigm Talent Agency is known to have laid off some 250 staff in the early days of the outbreak, while CAA, UTA and APA all reduced employee pay. While WME’s parent company, Endeavor, laid off around 250 non-agents, including gardeners and restaurant workers, in late March.

 


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UTA commits $1m to social justice causes

United Talent Agency (UTA) has announced a series of internal initiatives aimed at further increasing diversity and inclusion across the agency globally.

The actions – which are accompanied by a donation of US$1 million to organisations fighting for social justice – are the result of “efforts in recent weeks, led by leaders, colleagues of colour and allies across UTA, to have candid and thoughtful dialogue about the internal steps necessary to make meaningful and sustainable progress toward a more equitable community”, according to the agency, which has offices in Los Angeles, New York, London, Nashville and Miami.

Referencing the recent movement towards greater ethnic diversity in the music industry, UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer explains: “The past few weeks have shown that we must address the pace in which we’ve approached our diversity and inclusion efforts. It’s our responsibility to move forward with immediacy to ensure change happens, as a company and as individuals.

“I am incredibly grateful to my colleagues who stepped up and spoke truth to power. They are making UTA an even better place to work and helping drive true and meaningful progress well beyond our four walls.”

The $1m financial commitment will be provided over four years, and overseen by the nonprofit UTA Foundation.

“We are putting our stake in the ground publicly to hold ourselves accountable”

The new internal initiatives, meanwhile, include:

Additionally, Project Impact, which sees the agency close for a ‘day of action’ on community projects, will this year focus solely on issues of social justice and racial inequality.

UTA’s executive director of inclusion, Shanique Bonelli-Moore, says: “We believe diverse backgrounds and life experiences influence positive perspectives and great storytelling, yielding broader opportunities for our clients. Much of this work is already underway.

“It won’t all happen overnight. But we are putting our stake in the ground publicly to hold ourselves accountable and are implementing systems to sustain urgency as we pursue lasting change.”

 


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Ex-Spotify exec Troy Carter signs with UTA

United Talent Agency (UTA) has announced the signing of music industry veteran Troy Carter. The leading global talent company will focus on supporting Carter in the development of projects in areas including film, television and theatre.

Carter joins UTA following a two year stint as global head of creator services at Spotify. He continues to work with the music streaming giant in an advisory capacity, after stepping down in September.

In 2007, Carter founded talent management company Atom Factory, having previously working for the record label, Bad Boy Entertainment, and talent agency, Erving Wonder. As a manager, Carter handled globally renowned acts including Lady Gaga, John Legend, Eve and Nelly.

Carter received an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special,” for his work on HBO’s Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden. He currently has projects in development at Netflix, Universal Pictures and Apple.

A successful entrepreneur, Carter has over 80 holdings in companies including Uber, Spotify, Dropbox, Lyft, Slack and Gimlet Media.

“Carter’s unique vision for the future will touch every area of UTA and we look forward to exploring new avenues of business with him”

“Troy Carter has achieved success in everything he’s done,” says UTA chief executive, Jeremy Zimmer. “He’s not only one of today’s most innovative, self-made leaders in music and tech, he’s broken ground as a creator, an executive and investor.”

“His unique vision for the future will touch every area of UTA and we look forward to exploring new avenues of business with him.”

Carter comments that UTA “is becoming a creative hub at the intersection of music and art culture.”

“Jeremy Zimmer and his team are passionate, hungry and have shown exemplary taste when presenting me with projects. I look forward to working with them on this next chapter and bringing inspiring stories to the world,” he says.

The announcement follows yesterday’s acquisition of influencer agency Digital Brand Architects, as UTA expands its range and diversity of talent.

 


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United Talent Agency appoints new co-presidents

David Kramer and Jay Sures have been promoted to co-presidents of United Talent Agency (UTA).

Kramer, who oversees who UTA’s film, comedy touring, licensing and publishing activities, and Sures, who heads up its television departments, both began their careers as assistants to agency co-founder Peter Benedek, and have since 2010 served as joint managing directors.

“Jay and David embody the greatest parts of UTA, and I couldn’t ask for better, smarter or more creative partners,” says Jeremy Zimmer, CEO of Beverly Hills-based UTA. As UTA continues to grow and pursue new ventures, partnerships and acquisitions, these titles are a more appropriate reflection of their central roles and what’s next for UTA as an entertainment company.”

“We’ve loved working and growing the business together, and we look forward to continuing that work”

In a joint statement, Kramer and Sures add: “As we continue to expand and evolve into a truly diverse entertainment company, artists and creators remain at the centre of everything we do.

“For us, this partnership has worked so well for so long because it’s always been more than just a professional experience. We’ve loved working and growing the business together, and we look forward to continuing that work with our fellow board members, partners and everyone across the agency.”

UTA in July brought in David Zedeck, formerly of Live Nation, as head of music.

 


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