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Q&A: Karrie Goldberg, Paladin Artists/The Kagency

In the most recent issue of IQ, we talk to some of the architects who are helping to shape the industry of the future, to quiz them on their blueprints and predictions for how we may all be operating in a few years’ time. This excerpt features Karrie Goldberg, the founder of venue marketing and booking agency The Kagency and one of the founding partners of Paladin Artists, alongside Steve Martin, Andy Somers, and Wayne Forte.

IQ: The formation of Paladin Artists seems to have caught the imagination of many independent operators around the world. How would you encourage others to find like-minded partners to create similar strategic alliances?
KG: You know that old saying “birds of a feather…”? We ultimately work in a very small industry with a lot of big personalities, and I think you are naturally drawn to people that do business in a similar way. In our case, it was a passion for what we do and a deep level of honesty and respect.

As an independent operator, it’s paramount you put yourself out there, network, and develop relationships with your peers. Long gone are the days when ego prevails. I think the world is looking for a more human approach in their day-to-day interactions – so be human.

The coronavirus pandemic inadvertently led to the launch of many new agencies and promoters, internationally. As someone who has successfully launched their own company, what advice would you give to others about growing their enterprises, given the many challenges in the current economic environment?
No matter in what economic environment you set up your business, its best to grow slowly and strategically, making sure you have a real grasp on numbers and what’s achievable. We have all seen one too many start-ups that have rapid scaling and unrealistic goals, then crash and burn.

The most notable companies took their time and surrounded themselves with not only people they respect but often those smarter than themselves. True partners focus on collaboration and an open mind – build your community, internally and externally.

We heard a lot about cross-industry cooperation during the pandemic. What can indie operators do to try to foster and strengthen relations between the likes of agents, promoters, venue operators, etc?
Be in touch: reach out for a catch up, take your colleagues out for lunch or a drink. Be creative, find ways to foster those relationships that make you stand out – bring value outside your core business.

How do you predict the global agency business will devel- op in the coming decade, and what impact do you think technology will play in the way fans interact with artists?
I think most artists want to be in more control of their destiny, which will change how agencies work with them. Rather than putting your name on a brand, why not develop and own one? This will make the agencies change by their very nature.

Agents and artists have to be a bit broader in how they earn money, which will mean embracing technology and leveraging that as a way to reach fans and drive revenue. Look at what TikTok did for both established and emerging artists, or the technology that livestreams artists and allows fans to interact through a little peek behind the curtain.

I had a DJ that played on Twitch during lockdown and has a LOT of celeb followers who would jump on and chit-chat… Where else can you see that?
Fans are able to be closer than ever to the artists and vice versa: you can speak directly to the people that love you and your artistry. Fans can more easily share music with their network and influence the artist’s following – being able to put your music and merch at their fingertips completely alters your ability to earn from your fans.

What’s the greatest threat to the business currently, and how do we solve it?
The working style/drive has changed a lot since Covid, through people working from home. Our industry is all about relationships and fostering them. You cannot replace that on Zoom calls. Go to the office!


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