UTA hires Erika Savage, CAA taps Mark Bennett
Following a raft of promotions at both agencies, UTA has appointed Erika Savage as SVP of global music operations, while CAA has bolstered its music touring department with the hiring of agent Mark Bennett.
Savage led strategic development at Interscope Records prior to becoming SVP of partnership development at beauty firm Forma Brands.
Based in Los Angeles, she will play a key role in the agency’s strategic planning and business development across its music division.
Bennett, meanwhile, joins CAA from MBA Live, the agency he founded and that worked with a diverse roster of artists such as KSI, Polo G, S-X, Digital Farm Animals, Deco, BRYN, and The Paper Kites.
I could not be more proud of what was achieved with MBA Live
Prior to forming MBA Live, Bennett spent five years at The Agency Group for five years, where he nurtured emerging talent including Arizona, Fic
“I am incredibly excited to join CAA’s team of hard-working agents, many of whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with for years,” says Bennett. “I could not be more proud of what was achieved with MBA Live, and look forward to the opportunities that CAA will provide for my artists and I, as we continue to grow, develop, and learn from some of the greatest minds and people in this industry.”
Bennett, who will be based in CAA’s London office, began his music industry career more than a decade ago as a tour manager.
Turning adversity into opportunity
Every year, one in five people in the UK experience mental health issues, and in a year like no other, mental health has become an even greater issue. With the music business facing such uncertainty, people are struggling, many of whom have never experienced these issues before.
In our industry, discussing the topic of one’s own mental health can be seen as a weakness. But in spite of recent years being the most challenging of my life, today I am mentally the strongest I have ever been. By offering insight into my own experiences, I hope it may help those who are struggling and can’t see a way forward right now.
I joined the Agency Group in 2013 with no roster and limited connections. I worked tirelessly to sign artists and network, going to gigs every night, taking every meeting I could, and attending every possible industry event. I loved it. However, sometimes we can get lost in the pursuit of our ambitions, and eventually my health was affected. At the start of 2016, I was hospitalised with GERD, acid leaking from my stomach, and forced to work from home.
I realised that I was doing what I loved and had to fight my way back, just as I had fought my way in
I was due to return to the office on 15 February, after a trip to Sweden for Where’s the Music. In a heartbreaking turn of events, my clients Viola Beach and their manager, Craig Tarry, died in a tragic accident a few hours after performing at the festival. Nothing could have prepared me for the situations I would face in the aftermath while struggling to grieve for each of the five men, whom I called friends. I tried to give as much comfort as possible to their families, and it wasn’t until later that I realised the effect it all had on me.
A few weeks after the accident, my mum became ill and two close personal friends also suddenly passed. The combined pressure of my work, home and personal life being in turmoil, without a support network, made me feel very isolated and lonely.
I have never been one to ask for help, and in those moments, I wasn’t sure how. I believe there were people who wanted to help, but I don’t think they knew how either.
Over the next two years, I became despondent, paranoid, irrational and short tempered. I fell out with people. I stopped doing things I loved. I was miserable.
Changes were needed, but as I started to make positive steps, I had a huge setback. A few weeks after leaving a previous agency, I watched helplessly as my roster started to appear on other agencies’ websites. The phrase, “if you want loyalty, get a dog’’, is synonymous with our industry, and every agent and promoter knows the feeling of frustration and powerlessness when losing a client. I had been incredibly proud of my client retention rate and losing nearly my entire roster in a short space of time was tremendously painful. But I used the fact that I never had the urge to quit as motivation. I realised that I was doing what I loved and had to fight my way back, just as I had fought my way in.
I opened up to friends and loved ones, and with their support, put my energy into making small steps each day. Ben Kouijzer, a friend and colleague, reinvigorated my passion for reading by suggesting (audio) books that opened my mind to the importance of sleep, exercise, and health. These, in turn, contributed to positive thinking, understanding gratitude and goal-setting.
If you are reading this and are finding things difficult, understand that you are not alone
I devoured books on the history of the entertainment business and read everything that I could. This learning gave me the foundation to grow, understanding that change is inevitable, and that everyone experiences setbacks and knockdowns. It’s not about why something is happening, but about how you react.
I took this knowledge and invested in myself. I set short-, medium- and long-term goals, created healthy routines, exercised, visualised my future, and made time for doing things I love, including the one passion that never left – live music!
Starting my own agency, MBA Live, has given me the freedom to grow and service my clients on my terms, cultivating my own passion. I’m grateful to the artists and managers that trust me to deliver, the promoters that always take my calls, and to my wife, Polly, whose support has given me the foundation to create and build a profitable business, even within the difficulties of the global pandemic.
If you are reading this and are finding things difficult, understand that you are not alone. It isn’t a weakness to ask for help – it takes strength to start the conversation. Everyone is different but the most important thing is to seek professional help.
I’m encouraged by the efforts being made by people in power to make a positive change to ensure there is support for people when they need it and, more importantly, to identify issues and offer help before it’s needed.
It’s not always easy to ask for help. If you see someone whom you think is struggling or acting out of character, then reach out and check in with them. It will mean more than you think.
New signings and rising stars (Nov–Dec 2019)
Baker Grace, newly signed with independent agent Mark Bennett, and Jeffrey Lewis, the latest addition for Progressive Artists’ Shane Daunt, were among the acts added to the rosters of international agents in the final months of 2019.
Find out more, including a full list of new signings, below…
Baker Grace (US)
Agent: Mark Bennett
Eighteen-year-old New Jerseyite Baker Grace began shaping her distinct artistic voice as a child. Self-taught on piano and guitar, she started writing songs at a young age and soon learned that making music “allowed me to escape life while guiding me through it at the same time”.
Not long after releasing 2015 album Bitter’s Kiss, she was discovered by Scott Harris, a hitmaking songwriter/producer known for his work with Shawn Mendes and the Chainsmokers. In collaboration with Harris, she put out a pair of singles with Republic Records: ‘Am I Talking to You?’ and ‘Day I Die’. She also teamed up with producer Ayokay, appearing as the featured vocalist on his 2017 single ’Too Young’.
In 2019, Baker Grace independently released her debut EP, Girl, I Know, and single ‘Sad Summer’. She has since received over 25,000 new Instagram followers, 10 million views on TikTok, 15m streams with support from the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, and media support across numerous titles and brands.
Jeffrey Lewis and the Voltage (US)
Agent: Shane Daunt, Progressive Artists
Jeffrey Lewis and the Voltage play a blend of scuzzy urban indie-rock-folk, like a 21st-century mash-up of Sonic Youth, Pete Seeger and R. Crumb.
New Yorker Lewis has pursued a relentless touring schedule since 2002, as well as playing as the opening act for bands like the Mountain Goats, Daniel Johnston, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Dinosaur Jr, the Fall, Dr Dog, Pulp, Roky Erickson, the Vaselines and more.
The Voltage are Brent Cole on drums and Mem Pahl on bass and keys, and are essentially the same band that has been touring between 2016 and 2019 as Jeffrey Lewis and los Bolts, but Lewis continues his tradition of changing the band name with each album. New album Bad Wiring was released 1 November on Moshi Moshi Records in UK/Europe and Don Giovanni Records in the USA.
For full artist listings, including new signings for Primary Talent, UTA, ATC Live, X-ray, Paradigm, ITB and more, see the digital edition of IQ 86: