5B Artist Management makes new hires
International music management company 5B Artists and Media, home to hard rock/metal acts including Slipknot, Megadeth, Stone Sour, Lamb of God, Behemoth and Trivium, has hired artist manager James Vitalo.
Vitalo, who brings acts such as Turnstile, Knocked Loose, Gatecreeper, Terror and Harms Way, joins 5B after five years at New Jersey-based Good Fight Entertainment.
5B Artists and Media has offices in Los Angeles, Brooklyn (New York) and Birmingham (UK), and also comprises a record label, a film and music festival production arm, a booking agency and a digital marketing agency.
“I’m incredibly excited to begin working with James and the amazing artists he represents,” 5B founder and CEO Cory Brennan says. “His energy, positivity and sheer determination is second to none and aligns perfectly with that of 5B. We welcome his invaluable perspective, and look forward to developing and uncovering the next generation of important artists alongside him.”
“I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity than to work with 5B”
Vitalo adds: “I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity than to work with 5B. The team has an incredible reputation for being hardworking and forward-thinking, while also maintaining a level of ethics that can sometimes be lost in the music industry.
“Everything they work on, from festivals like Knotfest to initiatives like Rock Against Racism, highlights the range of capabilities and thoughtfulness of the company. 5B has always been at the forefront of pushing the underground to the highest level and I’m excited for myself and the bands I manage to be part of what’s to come.”
In other 5B news, the company has promoted senior artist manager Brad Fuhrman to vice-president and Stephen Reeder from director of digital to senior director of digital.
“When you’ve got people like Brad and Stephen on the team, you count yourself lucky,” comments 5B president Bob Johnsen. “We at 5B take pride in what we do and how we do it, and no matter what comes at us these two keep innovating and helping to make us all smarter.”
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Various Artists Management ups Rebecca Dixon
London-based Various Artists Management, whose roster includes Ashnikko, Tom Grennan, Supergrass, Loyle Carner and La Roux, has promoted Rebecca Dixon to head of marketing and promotions.
Dixon has been with Various Artists, which also has offices in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, for five years, helping oversee the careers of Charli XCX and the Libertines, among others.
Reporting directly to group CEO David Bianchi, in her new role Dixon will oversee the company’s global marketing and promotions activities and will work between the company’s London and LA offices once travel restrictions are lifted. Her appointment is effective immediately.
“I’m looking forward to working with our amazing roster of artists and managers in this new role”
“Rebecca joined us straight from university and it has been a huge pleasure to watch her grow into this role over the last five years,” comments Bianchi. “Rebecca’s energy , passion and creativity will add real value and expertise to our roster of artists globally.”
“I’m really excited to take on the position of head of marketing and promotions for Various Artists Management,” says Dixon. “Having been at the company for five years, I’m looking forward to working with our amazing roster of artists and managers in this new role.”
She adds: “[W]e have an array of exceptional talent and we will continue to build worlds and brands for those artists and their fans while innovating across all genres and platforms.”
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Sydney-based Chugg Music opens new Asia office
Sydney-based Chugg Music, the artist services branch of Michael Chugg’s promotions company Chugg Entertainment, is opening a new office in Asia, spearheaded by Michael “Mick” De Lanty.
Australian expat De Lanty is a seasoned music industry executive based in Bangkok and has worked across the board, with roles in A&R, artist management, marketing, sales, publishing, promotions and brand development.
De Lanty spent 15 years with Sony Music Australia and he has also worked with independent labels in Asia and Australia, as well as in the UK.
The veteran will expand on the success of Chugg Music artists Sheppard, Lime Cordialeand Mia Rodriguez in the Asian region.
“Having been involved in many projects since the late 80s I am excited to actually be planting the Chugg Music flag in Asia,” says Michael Chugg.
“Andrew [Stone, co-founder of Chugg Music] and I are thrilled to announce that my long-time friend and colleague, Michael De Lanty, is running the operations from his Bangkok base. After five months testing the waters we have no doubt that this will be a great step forward for both Australian and Asian music.”
“Having been involved in many projects since the late 80s I am excited to actually be planting my flag in Asia”
Michael De Lanty says: “I am delighted to be working with Chugg, Andrew and their team, in launching Chugg Music Asia and very excited for the opportunity to help develop the careers in Asia of the formidable roster of artists that they have assembled, including Sheppard, Lime Cordiale, Mia Rodriguez, Casey Barnes, to name but a few.
It is an exciting period for music in Asia and no better time to introduce these incredible artists to Asian music lovers.”
Chugg Music Asia will aim to build strong platforms across the 12 major territories, which includes the world’s second-largest music market, Japan.
Chugg Entertainment was founded in 2000 by music industry pioneer Michael Chugg and has toured hundreds of major international acts including Dolly Parton, Coldplay, Radiohead, Elton John, Pearl Jam, Robbie Williams, Florence + The Machine throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia.
Subsequently, Chugg Music was launched in 2012 with the help of Andrew Stone, offering management, label and publishing services.
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YMU hires new artist manager Truce
International artist management firm YMU Group has appointed Truce Susan to the position of senior manager.
Based in London, Susan – known as Truce – will report to Iain Watt, managing director of YMU’s UK music division, and work closely with senior manager Sophie Bloggs, whose team he joins.
Truce started his career DJing and organising music events across London, before joining music broadcast platform the Boiler Room in 2010, where he became global creative director. He then launched the label Bone Soda, helping artists such as slowthai, Octavian, Bakar, Ama Lou, Sheck Wes and BenjiFlow find international audiences.
He will continue to run Bone Soda independently but brings two of his existing management clients, Bekah CC and Airhead, to YMU Group.
Founded in 1984, YMU Group (formerly James Grant Group) has offices in Los Angeles, London, Washington, New York and Manchester. Its music roster also includes the likes of James Arthur, Years & Years, Blink-182, Clean Bandit, Take That, Steve Aoki, Mika and Danny Howard.
“Truce is a natural music entrepreneur”
“Truce is a natural music entrepreneur who has enjoyed success across a number of different sectors,” says Watt.
“He understands both the creative and commercial aspects of artist management and is a great addition to our team. He is bringing two great artists, Bekah CC and Airhead, with him and the aim is to help him build an amazing roster of credible artists who we can help have long-term, successful careers.”
Truce adds: “I’m excited to join Iain, Sophie and the rest of the YMU team. Having known Iain for a few years, it feels like the perfect story for how I see my management career developing.
“YMU is a leading entertainment management company and has successfully brought on and supported a number of inspiring artists globally. I’m hoping I can mix it up a little and look forward to combining experiences, knowledge and ideas to support our clients.”
His appointment follows the hiring of First Access’s Sarita Borge as senior manager in February.
Germany’s Goodlive launches Nitelive Artists agency
Goodlive Artists, the booking and touring division of Berlin’s Goodlive (Lollapalooza Berlin, Melt Festival), has grown with the launch of a new agency, Nitelive Artists, focusing on dance/electronic and pop music.
Headed up by managing partner Flo Hauss, Nitelive Artists will focus on tour booking and artist management, as well as consulting for festivals and clubs. Hauss brings a roster that includes German hip-hop pioneers Die Fantastischen Vier, Fritz Kalkbrenner, Boys Noize and Digitalism.
Hauss – who will also continue working as the German promoter for the Black Eyed Peas and David Guetta – will work with alongside fellow booking agents Tobias Klose and Torsten Rettert.
Hauss, who was most recently managing director of Four Artists, comments: “I look forward to bringing my many years of national and international touring and booking experience to Goodlive, and I am very happy to have found a new home with my team after these challenging months.
“I am very happy to have found a new home with my team”
“I am particularly proud that my entire roster has decided to join me on this new path; loyalty and trust are not exactly commonplace in our business. We’ve got some very promising synergies with the structures at Goodlive Artists, not to mention a self-confident market position that suits my ambitious personal goals very well.”
Stefan Lehmkuhl, managing partner of Goodlive, adds: “Flo Hauss has terrific musical competence, [and] I am quite sure that he will be a valuable asset for touring and also give terrific new impetus to the Goodlive festival business.
“We very much look forward to working with and his team.”
Goodlive Artists’ other agencies are Melt! Booking (international rap, R&B, pop and alternative music), Der Bomber der Herzen (German rap and indie-pop) and Full Force Concerts (hard rock and heavy metal).
Managers peg October as earliest return for live
The latest IQ Focus session saw a line-up of international artist managers discuss the timeline for reopening, potential changes to artists’ contracts post-Covid-19 and monetisation of live streams.
The session, presented in partnership with the Music Managers Forum (MMF) and hosted by MMF chair Paul Craig, featured Kaiya Milan (Off Balance Group/The Sorority House & Co.), Marc Thomas (Red Light Management/Go Artist Management), Meg Symsyk (eOne Management/MMF Canada) and Per Kviman (Versity Music/MMF Sweden/EMMA).
Thomas compared the constant cancelling and rescheduling of shows in recent weeks to “rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic”, adding that he has been “targeting markets” such as Australia and certain parts of the US, which are likely “to get back to live more quickly”.
Thomas said he has accepted two offers for artists to play in the US in October – the earliest dates he’s looking at – including at “a leading festival”. A caveat in the contract allows the team to reassess 28 days out, in case there is a second spike.
Artists will also need to weigh up whether to take the hit of losing a couple of weeks in quarantine in order to do four weeks of solid touring in countries such as Australia, he said, highlighting the obstacles of a post-coronavirus world.
“I’m not optimistic that these things are going to run smoothly”
“I’m not optimistic that these things are going to run smoothly,” said Milan, referring to events scheduled for the autumn. Managers have been receiving offers with clauses allowing the promoter to cancel at any point, she said, which works out ok for “more established artists” but is a big risk for lesser known acts.
“I’m in a space where I know anything can happen.”
Versity Music manager Kviman agreed that things remain too uncertain for now, saying he is not putting new tours out until September 2021 as “people aren’t ready to buy tickets at this point”. Tours that had already sold lots of tickets prior to the Covid-19 crisis are being rescheduled for May 2021.
Craig asked whether any new opportunities had come out of the crisis for managers and artists, with panellists agreeing that livestreaming had presented a variety of options, if not always significant from a financial point of view.
Symsyk said live streams had, in general, worked more effectively for electronic or hip-hop acts. Bands have tended to face more technical difficulties and have often not been satisfied with the quality of streams. “[For bands, livestreaming] has worked ok for charity events, but hasn’t been worth it from a financial point of view”, she said.
Thomas, who works predominantly with electronic acts, said he has “leant into livestreaming a lot”. One act sold $15,000 in merchandise while playing in a virtual edition of Insomniac’s Electric Daisy Carnival festival.
“You can’t ask fans to pay for a ticket as a live stream doesn’t replace the experience of going to a festival, but you can sell off the back of it”
“You can’t ask fans to pay for a ticket as a live stream doesn’t replace the experience of going to a festival,” he said, “but you can sell off the back of it.”
Milan said there was more opportunity for grassroots artists to make money from paid live streams as audiences want to support them. “Livestreaming is the way people can see to help out and get something in return at the moment”, she said, which “works for a certain level of artist”.
Although the grassroots sector is one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus shutdown, Symsyk noted that the current situation is giving “a window of opportunity to focus on local talent” in Canada.
Turning to when live does return, Thomas stressed the need for “everyone to have a bit more give”.
“The reality is, in this situation, everyone needs to win, and I don’t win by getting the agent to squeeze the promoter so hard he has to pay me half the fee if the show cancels […] and he loses a load of money.
“We need everyone in this system for the system to function.”
Thomas said he accepted, to a certain extent, Live Nation’s recently expressed intention to adjust artists guarantees down for shows in the future.
“We need everyone in this system for the system to function”
“Promoters are the most exposed out of everybody and they’re not going to put these big guarantees out anymore,” he said, “it’s going to go on the backend.” This kind of “give and take” will be essential from all sides when rebuilding the business.
From a practical point of view, we can expect to see social distancing and other measures in place for a while as “not doing anything is not an option, however unpalatable the measures may be”, said Craig.
Outdoor shows seem to be a much better option than indoor shows, and a lot more scalable too in terms of keeping to distancing rules, said Thomas. Targeting the right age range is also important, as “kids think they’re invincible”.
For Milan, the deciding factor is whether people felt ready to go back into social situations as, “if they are, they will do whatever they have to” to get back to gigs or festivals, no matter how inconvenient the measures are.
Craig agreed, pointing out that we have all become accustomed to things that would have seemed unthinkable six months ago.
“If people want to go to a show, they will do whatever is necessary to go.”
Music managers step up for next IQ Focus
The next in the weekly series of IQ Focus virtual panel discussions features an international line-up of music managers, who will discuss the unique challenges the Covid-19 crisis has posed for their side of the business.
The session, IQ Focus & The MMF: Managing the Crisis, will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube on Thursday 18 June at 4 p.m. BST/5 p.m. CET.
With the bulk of artists dependent on live music revenue and audience connection, the Covid-19 crisis has decimated livelihoods.
But what does it mean for their managers? The individuals thrown into salvaging campaigns, rescheduling tours, interpreting contractual changes and navigating the most uncertain of futures. How are their own businesses faring? And what do they see as the challenges – and hopefully opportunities – ahead for the live sector, in what we are all optimistically calling the “new normal”.
Drawing on expert global perspectives, and from managers working across multiple genres, Thursday’s session will be moderated by MMF Chair Paul Craig (Nostromo Management) and feature Kaiya Milan (Off Balance Group/The Sorority House & Co.), Marc Thomas (Red Light Management/Go Artist Management), Meg Symsyk (eOne Management/MMF Canada) and Per Kviman (Versity Music/MMF Sweden/EMMA).
Music Managers Forum partners with TikTok
The Music Managers Forum (MMF) has announced an associate partnership with viral short-form video app TikTok.
TikTok – which has been downloaded more than two billion times globally – has been playing an increasingly important role in artist campaigns of late, helping music makers and their teams connect with audiences during the Covid-19 lockdown, including through its TikTok Live Sessions (which follow on from a starring role at this year’s Brit Awards).
Notable music 2020 successes on the platform include include Young T and Bugsey’s #dontrushchallenge (2K Management), Robyn’s #onmyown (DEF Management), Years & Years’ #breathechallenge (YMU Group) and Little Mix’s #BUSStayHome (Modest! Management).
The MMF’s associate programme enables artist-focussed music services to build direct relationships with the association’s network of more than 850 UK-based managers.
Activities already planned under the associate partnership with the MMF include access to best-practice resources on TikTok for MMF members, virtual training sessions co-hosted by TikTok and leading UK managers, and an in-person event in London, likely to be in autumn 2020.
“TikTok’s impact has been truly phenomenal”
Annabella Coldrick, MMF CEO, says: “Watching artists and music makers pick up and experiment with new technologies is always fascinating, but TikTok’s impact has been truly phenomenal. The MMF is delighted to have them onboard as an associate, particularly at such a challenging time, and I believe this partnership will deliver deep and lasting value to our membership and the talent they represent.”
“TikTok’s mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy to our users, and artists and their music have been a central part of this creative process since the app launched,” adds Paul Hourican, UK head of music operations for TikTok.
“We’re looking forward to working with the MMF to help managers make the most of our platform and connect artists with TikTok’s global audience, expanding the ways in which they can continue to creatively engage with fans, create lasting connections and drive success in all areas of their work.”
Read IQ’s November 2019 Q&A with TikTok’s head of music partnerships Europe, Farhad Zand, on how live businesses can utilise the platform here.
New signings continue during corona lockdown
Nearly three months into the shutdown of virtually all concert touring globally, booking agents and artist managers continue to discover and sign new talent, with many using the opportunity to bolster their rosters in anticipation of live music’s return, they tell IQ.
“Discovering new talent is a big part of the agent’s job, and since many of us are stuck at home with no shows happening currently, that gives us extra time to listen to new music and get interested in new artists, even more so than before,” says Belgian agent Guillaume Brevers, who left London’s ATC Live to set up his own agency, Hometown Talent, earlier this year.
“I believe it wasn’t the case in the first few weeks following [the outbreak of] the virus, as most of the agents were really busy postponing their tours, discussing festival cancellations, etc. But more recently, I personally have found I have more free time to focus on new music.”
Similarly, Dominik Meyer of Austria’s Cobra Agency tells IQ that while the early days of pandemic were largely spent dealing with cancellations and postponements, there is now definitely “more time to listen to music and explore new stuff”.
One London-based agent (who asked not be named) says he, too, has been signing new acts during the shutdown, as there are “things that I am definitely excited about and that I feel I need to sign now.” He adds that discovering new talent gives him a feeling of normality in strange times – as well as “a sense that there is a business to come back to.”
“Signing new talent is a good way for agents to remain proactive while no tours are taking place”
Also keeping calm and carrying on is Australian artist manager Andrew Stone, who leads Chugg Music, the management, publishing and label division of Michael Chugg’s Chugg Entertainment. Chugg Music’s most recent signing is Mason Watts, who agreed a label deal with the influencer-focused City Pop Records late last month.
With City Pop, says Stone, “we’re looking to sign artists now more than ever. There’s a focus on artists who have developed in the influencer/social media space” – City Pop’s first signing was TikTok star Mia Rodriguez – “so we feel at least somewhat prepared for a more online model of artist development. I think it’s a good time to build catalogue and grow communities on streaming, socials and radio, so that when the artists are heading out on the road in the future they have more than two songs that people know.”
Signing new talent is “a good way [for agents] to remain proactive” while no tours are taking place, comments Brevers, “so when things hopefully get back to normal, agents will be effective immediately and ready to provide their clients with the service they deserve”.
“In an industry where everything happens especially fast, I’m taking advantage of this new free time to think about new ways to reinvent myself as an agent,” he adds, “as well as how this industry could evolve to meet the challenges we’re facing in today’s society.”
Stone says lockdown is “forcing us to get really good at online marketing and collaborations. We are collaborating more than ever with artists across Zoom, and having features from other countries and languages, so that our international audience development isn’t completely halted by our inability to tour.”
“As long as there are engaged audiences, there will be a creative and nimble industry that can make the most of connecting with them”
With the return to full-scale concert touring believed to still be some way off, it depends on the individual agent or manager – and their personal circumstances – whether they’re using their relative downtime to scout for new talent, or just trying to survive, says the London agent.
“I think it comes down to the people,” they say. “Some are nervous about the future and just holding on, and some are understanding that it will pass and that they have to check new things out.”
They’re in the latter camp, they say – and so is Stone. He concludes: “I hope we’re not in denial about the long-term outcomes, but I think that so long as there are engaged audiences, there will be a creative and nimble industry that can make the most of connecting with them – whatever the circumstances.”
IQ launched its monthly New Signings playlist, which features tracks curated by a selection of major booking agencies, last week. Listen here:
MMF survey: Covid-19 to cost artists, managers over £68m
The UK’s Music Managers Forum (MMF) and the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) has today highlighted the impact of the coronavirus live music shutdown, with over £50m already lost to the wider music economy, including £3.1m in lost management commission.
The MMF and FAC project that loss of income if all shows are cancelled for the next six months will surpass £61.4m, with a projected loss of £7.1m from merchandise sales, record sales and other related sales.
The findings are drawn from survey responses from more than 150 music managers and artists, detailing the impact of more than 2,100 cancelled shows, delayed campaigns and lost earnings.
Aside from an immediate loss of cash-flow, the findings raise concerns for the commercial music sector’s longer-term sustainability. The organisations call for greater assistance from the UK’s largest music businesses and organisations, given that the government’s recently announced support measures for the self-employed will not pay out until June.
The MMF and FAC welcome the creation of emergency funding initiatives, such as Arts Council England’s £160 million package for cultural organisations, freelancers and individual artists; Help Musicians’ £5m coronavirus financial hardship fund, which today received an additional £500,000 from the Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain; the Musicians’ Union’s £1m coronavirus hardship fund, the PRS for Music emergency relief fund and Spotify’s Covid-19 music relief fund.
“Artists and music makers are faced with a short term crisis and a longer-term catastrophe”
However, the organisations point to measures put in place in other countries, such as the German music licensing society’s (GEMA) €40m crisis fund for its songwriter members, the Swedish government’s €45m cultural response fund and the Norwegian government’s earmarking of €25m funding for the cultural sector, and state more must be done by large UK music businesses “particularly in the recorded sector”.
MMF and FAC propose that major labels, major music publishers and “others who can afford it” offer artists and songwriters a “recoupment holiday”; direct contributions to emergency support funds for artists and their teams; a diversion of “unattributable” royalty collections into an emergency hardship fund; and advances on performer and composer royalties as loans against future payments.
“Artists and music makers are faced with a short term crisis and a longer-term catastrophe,” comments MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick. “This MMF and FAC survey is only a snapshot, but it highlights that millions of pounds have already been lost through cancelled shows and campaigns.
“With government support for freelancers not kicking in until June we need the biggest record labels, music publishers and licensing organisations to act. We need them to do more, and we need them to do so now.”
FAC general manager David Martin adds: “We need all parts of the global music community to do their bit to support those that are most in need, and those with the greatest resource must do their fair share to provide this support.”