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Mother Artists: “We’re ripping up old-school contracts”

In December last year, ex-Paradigm agent Natasha Gregory [aka Bent] and her brother Mark Bent, boss of Mother Management, launched brand new artist management and live agency Mother Artists.

The company – which is the latest in a legion of new UK agencies including Marshall Live AgencyOne Fiinix Live and Route One Booking – brings together the pair’s combined four decades of experience under one roof, with Natasha spearheading the company’s live division and Mark heading up management.

Having taken their artists with them (Natasha’s live roster includes the likes of Cate Le Bon and The Magic Gang, while Mark manages Idles and Heavy Lungs among others), the pair have hit the ground running and have already expanded the team with Natasha’s former assistant James Tones.

Now, the pair tell IQ why they’re employing a no-bullshit policy, what kind of company they’re determined to build and how the pandemic created the perfect storm in which to launch.

 


How did Mother Artists come to fruition? Was joining forces inevitable?
Mark: “We’ve always talked about working together as a kind of dream thing to do, but there was never any plan about when or how. And with everything that’s happening now and our situations, the timing felt serendipitous.”

Natasha: “Timing-wise, I feel like we’ve both got to the same level in business so that neither of us is carrying the other. We’re both strong in our own positions and in our own knowledge and skills…we’re on an even playing field. Mark and I are extremely similar in ethos and mind and ideas and we trust in each other.”

“Mother Artists is something that never would have happened without this pandemic”

Given the current climate of the industry, why is now the right time to set up shop?
Natasha
: “Obviously it’s a really, really tough time for the live industry – for artists, managers, agencies, agents, crews…it’s catastrophic. But we’re glass half full people.

“For 18 years, I didn’t ever have the time to think about anything but the job at hand because the live industry is so fast-paced so there was just never any time to make Mother Artists happen.

“The advantage of the pandemic is that neither of us is travelling so we have the space and mindset to get our heads together and make sure that Mother Artists is really the best to our ability.”

Mark: “Mother Artists is something that never would have happened without this pandemic.”

Why did you decide to stick with the name Mother? Is there a philosophy behind it?
Mark
: “When I was a tour manager, I saw some artists being pushed to the limits for the sake of people’s goals and we’ve never wanted to have that approach. I had a full-blown breakdown halfway through a tour and everyone was telling me it was gonna happen but I didn’t listen but my artists stuck by me through that when they could’ve so easily moved on.

“That’s why the name, Mother Artists, is so important because we want the company to be like a family and, within a family, you can have those moments where you all have a difference of opinion or you drive each other crazy but that trust and that belief is always there in the background which is so important.”

“We’re ripping up the old school contracts and the old school way of working”

Now you’re both running the show, what kind of company do you want Mother Artists to be?
Natasha: “We’re ripping up the old school contracts and the old school way of working, and really trying to be diverse in not only who we work with, but who comes on board in our team. It’s not only about clients but it’s about us and creating a company that – in my mind, wherever I’ve gone – always thought should exist. A place where ourselves, our families and those who decide to join in the future are really well looked after.”

What will you change about the status quo of the agency/management business?
Natasha
: “This has always been quite a magical industry and that you know there’s this smoke and mirrors approach to what you do. When I started as an agent and there weren’t very many women, the only way that I’ve built this roster over 18 years is through hard work, kindness, respect and being honest with myself about who I am and what my capabilities are.

“Enough bullying. Enough shouting to get what you want – that doesn’t work so much anymore and actually that you should be proud of your differences and your vulnerability. Everyone is going to have bad days. Mistakes happen. Our number one rule is you put your hand up straight away so we can talk about it and deal with it. No ‘Oh my god I got that wrong, I’m going to be sacked’. We all pull in, sort it out, and it’s fine because we’re human.”

“You can achieve amazing things by being human”

Mark: “You can achieve amazing things by being human. Besides, everyone’s winging it. If you’re not learning if you’re sitting there thinking you know everything, then it’s game over really.”

You’ve been vocal about Mother Artists having a ‘no-bullshit policy’. What does this mean to you?
Natasha: “What we mean by no bullshit, is that there aren’t any shortcuts to being good at what you do. For example, when you pitch for a band. I can’t promise my bands that they’re going to get on another band’s support because I grow my artists to be in a position to pick their own supports. There’s no shortcut to building a great band – we deal with career artists.”

Mark: “Honesty is such a massive thing, especially on my side. Every artist I’ve worked with knows that they will get an honest answer out of me every time. Whenever we work with anyone, it’s never about the quick buck. The no-bullshit approach is the best way to achieve a long term career with anyone. Because if you don’t have the trust with the artists you’re representing, if you don’t have the trust of the team you’re working with, you’re not going to have those long term relationships with it which is exactly what you need for long term careers.”

“We have a no-bullshit policy…there aren’t any shortcuts to being good at what you do”

How do the artists on your rosters reflect the ethos and business model of Mother Artists?
Mark
: “[The business model] can’t be led by us, it needs to be led by our artists. So we’ll just have to see where their careers go and how they want them to go and then we’ll make sure all the pieces fall together when they need to. We want to make sure that we’re representing our artists in both of our fields, as well as they were before, but ideally better than they were before.”

Natasha: “The rosters that we both represent have very strong-minded artists in their own right. They’ve got something to say and they stand for beliefs that we have to be a reflection of that and do it ourselves.”

Natasha Gregory will be participating in Pulse: Best in Class at ILMC 33

 


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Mother Artists recruits James Tones as agent

Mother Artists, the new artist management and live agency launched by siblings Mark and Natasha Bent, has hired James Tones as an agent.

Tones follows Natasha from Paradigm Talent Agency, where he worked as her booker and assistant for the past four years. Prior to that, the pair briefly worked together at UTA.

At Mother Artists, Tones will continue to work with Natasha on her roster – which includes Idles, Amy Macdonald and Foster The People – alongside building his own.

“James is basically superman,” says Natasha. “Not only to us, but to our clients, his peers and all industry professionals. He leads with kindness, empathy, extreme efficiency and a go get attitude. We have no doubt that James will be running the company within a year. Like all our team, he starts as an equal and we, and our clients are so lucky and excited to have him with us. Let’s go!”

“Having worked with Natasha and Mark on Idles, I have seen first-hand what they can achieve as a team”

Tones says: “I’m so excited to join Mother Artists and start the next chapter of my career as an agent with Natasha, Mark and the team. As a mentor, I am so grateful to Natasha for teaching me invaluable skills and for giving me opportunities to keep progressing over the past four years, but also to grow as a person and treat everyone with respect and kindness, and lead by example.

“Having worked with Natasha and Mark on Idles, I have seen first-hand what they can achieve as a team. Mark has already built an incredible reputation for Mother Artists, so with Natasha joining on the live side, the sky’s the limit. I’m looking forward to building my own roster as well as being able to continue working closely with Natasha and everyone at Mother Artists. Exciting times ahead!”

Mark and Natasha launched Mother Artists in December last year with Mark’s wife, Lucy Bent (co-founder and director), and Liam Sexton (management assistant). The news followed Natasha’s departure from Paradigm.

Natasha spearheads the company’s live division with Alex Amor, Amy Macdonald, Benjamin Booker, Cate le Bon, CMAT, Darwin Deez, Do Nothing, Electric Guest, First Aid Kit, Foster The People, Gotye, Heavy Lungs, Idles, Kills Birds, Laura Misch, RY X, The Antlers, The Magic Gang, The Teskey Brothers, Thomas Headon, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Violet Skies and Westerman.

While Mark heads up the management side – continuing his existing company Mother Artist Management under the pair’s new guise – with Idles, Heavy Lungs and Avaera & Daffodils and the newly signed Magazines.

 


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Natasha and Mark Bent launch Mother Artists

Following last week’s news of her departure from Paradigm Talent Agency, Natasha Bent has revealed details of a new venture with her brother, Mother Artist Management (MAM) boss Mark Bent.

The pair have announced a new artist management and live agency called Mother Artists, taking ‘a human-first approach with compassion, understanding and a hard work ethic at its core… and a no-bullshit policy’.

Natasha will spearhead the company’s live division with Alex Amor, Amy Macdonald, Cate le Bon, Do Nothing, First Aid Kit, Heavy Lungs, Idles, Ry X, The Magic Gang, The Teskey Brothers, Thomas Headon, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and more to be announced.

While Mark will head up the management side, continuing his existing company Mother Artist Management under the pair’s new guise, working with Idles, Heavy Lungs and Avaera & Daffodils.

“I’m so happy to be able to work alongside my brother, who I love, respect and admire so much, on music we are all so passionate about,” says Natasha.

“We are each other’s biggest champions and to be surrounded by constant empowerment will be so rewarding and give the best results in business. Anyone who knows us, knows how we operate: we care about and fight for the people we work with – artists and our team – and we operate an honest, hardworking approach which we know people appreciate.

“I have loved being at Paradigm and am truly grateful for all the support they have given me. It’s been a difficult year for all in live but we are proactively getting ready for its return and will continue to put our artists first.”

“We care about and fight for the people we work with and we operate an honest, hardworking approach”

Mark says: “I cannot wait to get started on this new venture with Natasha. To have an independent family-run business where we can build on that ethos across our artists is exciting and essential to building long-term careers and relationships.

“Natasha has always been a huge inspiration to me with how she does business and how she represents her artists. To now be able to work alongside her with the same shared mindset of artists first is a dream come true. With the dramatically changing landscape in front of us, the timing couldn’t be any better and we couldn’t have placed ourselves in a better position to deliver.”

Natasha leaves Paradigm, formerly known as Coda, after four years at the agency. Prior to that, she spent eight years at The Agency Group (later UTA), where she became VP of the business in 2014. She joined The Agency Group in 2006 from her own company, The Village Agency.

Over the course of the last decade, Bent has worked with Foals, The Knife, Chvrches, Foster the People, Chvrches, First Aid Kit and Amy Macdonald.

She is also an Arthur Award recipient, scooping Agent of the Year (aka the Second Least Offensive Agent) in 2018, and was named Tomorrow’s New Boss at ILMC 22 in 2010.

Jim King, CEO, European Festivals at AEG says: “Natasha has been a friend and industry colleague for many years and during that time she has always shown the best attributes for artist representation. It’s obvious that she cares deeply about her artists and their careers and always seeks to find the best outcome in any agreement, not just in terms of that deal discussion but how it will contribute to the longer-term plan and artist development. We look forward to working with her and her artists for many years to come.”

Kelly Chappel, SVP, European Touring at Live Nation says: “I have worked with Tasha for over a decade now and what’s unique about her is she makes you not just part of the team but part of her family, this is how she treats her clients, she would go to battle for them, and she genuinely loves them. This is what will make her and Mark a formidable team, family first and it’s going to be one big family full of heart, soul and great deals. Me and my colleagues look forward to working with them on their new venture.”

 


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Natasha Bent leaves Paradigm to launch new venture

Paradigm agent Natasha Bent is leaving the agency after four years to launch a new independent management and agency business with her brother, Mother Artist Management (MAM) boss Mark Bent.

Bent, who works with acts including Idles (managed by MAM), Chvrches, First Aid Kit and Amy Macdonald, joined Paradigm (formerly Coda Music Agency) in 2016.

Prior to that, she spent eight years at The Agency Group (later UTA). She joined in 2006 from her own company, The Village Agency, and became VP of the business in 2014.

Over the course of the last decade, Bent has worked with Foals, The Knife, Chvrches, Foster the People and Amy Macdonald and has become well known for her commitment to fair working practices across the business.

Over the course of the last decade, Bent has worked with Foals, The Knife, Chvrches, Foster the People and Amy Macdonald

She is also an Arthur Award recipient, scooping Agent of the Year (aka the Second Least Offensive Agent) in 2018, and was named Tomorrow’s New Boss at ILMC 22 in 2010.

“Regretfully, we are announcing that Natasha Bent has resigned from Paradigm after four years of service to form an independent management company with her brother. We wish her the best of luck in her new venture,” says Paradigm’s Tom Schroeder.

Bent is the most recent Paradigm agent to go independent, and the first in the UK, with former employees from the US offices breaking off to establish Arrival ArtistsMint Talent Group and TBA Agency.

The past few months have seen a flurry of activity in the agency world on both sides of the Atlantic, with the likes of Route One Booking and Runway Artists in the UK, and Rebel Beat Agency in Spain all having launched this autumn following cutbacks at the major agencies.

Most recently, Ed Sheeran agent Jon Ollier announced his new booking agency One Fiinix Live, following his recent departure from CAA.

 


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Countdown to the Arthurs 2019: Natasha Bent

He might look as if he’s been around the block a few times, but 2019 marks Arthur’s 25th birthday, so to celebrate his landmark silver anniversary, we contacted some past winners of the coveted statuette, awarded annually at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) in London.

As well as learning what the arrival of Arthur meant to their professional lives (and where he resides in their homes and offices), we asked our alumni to share their hopes and dreams for the future; their most memorable ILMC and Gala Dinner moments; and what new Arthur category they might like to see in our annual awards show.

Following yesterday’s contribution by tour manager Andy Franks, it’s the turn of Coda’s Natasha Bent – who won agent of the year (aka the Second Least Offensive Agent) last year, after being named Tomorrow’s New Boss at ILMC 22 in 2010

 


Winning the Second Least Offensive Agent award meant the world. It’s a vote, support and recognition from your peers and I will never take it for granted. Being a mother, I feel a responsibility to lead and show what’s possible.

I keep Arthur in my home office. Being a mum of two, I have a great set-up at home, as well as at Coda.

My most memorable moment from the Gala Dinner and Arthur Awards over the years was winning Tomorrow’s New Boss and the celebrations that happened after…

I would say my biggest achievement and memory from ILMC is hosting the gender panel – an issue incredibly important and close to my heart. Those that were on the panel I hold in high regard and I was so pleased with how it went. The women that spoke to me after the session, thanking me for hosting the panel and explaining the effect it had on them, shows just how powerful it was.

“I’m hoping for … there to be actual positive change within companies and at live events. It’s our problem to solve”

If there were to be a new Arthur category, it should be a personal one… something that credits respect, relationships, ethics and making positive change to the industry.

I’m excited by the future. I think it will bring faster changes to the industry across records, streaming, technology, live experiences and so forth. ILMC needs to keep being at the forefront of this. I’m hoping for equality to continue to be an open and important discussion and for there to be actual positive change within companies and at live events. It’s our problem to solve.

My greatest hope for the future would be equality, kindness, respect, good mentoring, fairness, giving back and incredible shows!

 

Other previous Second Least Offensive Agent award winners include Steve Strange, John Giddings, Geoff Meall, Rob Challice, Emma Banks, Steve Zapp, Mike Greek, Barry Dickins, Dave Chumbley, Ian Huffam, Paul Franklin, Carl Leighton-Pope, Ben Winchester and Martin Hopewell.

 


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Tom Taaffe and Anna Bewers join Coda

Leading UK rock agents Tom Taaffe and Anna Bewers have joined Coda Agency.

The pair’s move sees them join former United Talent Agency (UTA) colleagues Natasha Bent and Geoff Meall at the fast-growing London agency, which has also made a number of internal promotions.

Australian-born Taaffe was an agent and promoter before relocating to England to join ITB in 2008. Two years later, he joined the Agency Group (TAG), which became UTA in 2015. He has represented acts including Good Charlotte, Asking Alexandria, Julien Baker, the Menzingers, Hot Water Music, Amos Lee and While She Sleeps.

Bewers had been with TAG/UTA since 2006, starting as an assistant before being promoted to agent in summer 2013. Over the past five years she has developed artists from grassroots to arena level, working with bands including Nothing But Thieves, Architects, the Wonder Years and Pulled Apart by Horses.

Andy Clayton and Ryan Penty, meanwhile, have been promoted to agents after nine and seven years, respectively, as bookers for Alex Hardee. They are replaced as Hardee’s bookers by Holly Rowland and Eleanor Ashley, both formerly agent’s assistants.

Rebecca Bates has also been promoted to booker for Mike Malak, after formerly serving as his assistant.

“With all the knowledge they bring in their chosen fields, we know they will thrive here”

“I’m excited at the idea of growing my roster with this company and learning from some of the very best agents that work in this business today,” comments Taaffe. “Coda has a great reputation for discovering and growing what is current in every genre.”

Bewers adds: “I’m thrilled to be joining Coda Agency and to start the next phase of my career. The agency has a reputation for signing the hottest artists and I’m excited to work with some of the most innovative and dynamic agents in the business.”

James Whitting, Coda partner, says: “We are thrilled to be welcoming Tom and Anna to the team. With all the knowledge they bring in their chosen fields, we know they will thrive here.

“Congratulations also to Holly, Eleanor, Rebecca, Andy and Ryan on their promotions. We know they will excel in their new roles.”

Coda is 50% owned by US full-service powerhouse Paradigm Talent Agency, through which it has a strategic partnership with X-ray Touring.

 


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Superorganism help get Etep 2018 off to a flying start

The European Talent Exchange Programme (Etep), the Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS)-led initiative that aims to stimulate the circulation of music across European borders, has released its first set of results for 2018, showing hotly tipped British act Superorganism leading the charge.

In the three months since Etep 2018 kicked off at ESNS 2018, a total of 257 shows by 106 Etep acts have been confirmed for the programme’s 116 participating festivals. Superorganism – represented outside the US by Coda’s Natasha Bent – have 13 confirmed festival slots at events including Spain’s Primavera Sound, the Netherlands’ Best Kept Secret and Germany’s Melt Festival, with Swiss-American black metal act Zeal & Ardor just behind with 12.

The preliminary top ten as it stands is:

1) Superorganism (GB) – 13 shows
2) Zeal & Ardor (Ch) – 12 shows
3) Sigrid (No) – 8 shows
4) Yonaka (GB) – 7 shows
5) Tshegue (Fr) – 7 shows
6) Altin Gün (NL) – 6 shows
7) Alice Merton (De) – 6 shows
8) Tom Walker (GB) – 6 shows
9) Tom Grennan (GB) – 6 shows
10) Meute (De) – 5 shows

Since its launch in 2003, Etep has facilitated 3,775 shows by 1,360 artists in over 30 countries in total, and last year once again celebrated its best-ever year after a record-breaking 2016.

In other Etep news, seven new festivals have joined the programme for 2018. They are Apolide (It), by:larm (No), Focus Wales (GB), Grape Festival (Sk), Tuska Open Air (Fi), OppiKoppi (ZA) and Canadian Music Week (Ca).

 


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Arthur Awards 2018: All the winners

For more than two decades, the Arthur Awards, the live music industry’s Oscar equivalents, have been handed out during ILMC – and last week’s ‘Close Encounters of the 30th Kind’ anniversary event was no exception, with the brightest stars of the concert business taking a host of UFOs (unidentified f—ing objects) back to their own galaxies.

Taking place for the second year in the sumptuous surroundings of 8Northumberland, the Gala-ctic Dinner & Arthur Awards saw 350 interstellar travellers don their best spacesuits and set a course for an evening of mirth, merriment and glittering gongs.

On entertainment duties were host Emma Banks, who returned to captain the USS ILMC, and Whitney Houston tribute act Belinda Davids, who gave stirring renditions of ‘I Will Always Love You’ and ‘One Moment in Time’.

Also returning to the stage was Rock Werchter founder and 2017 Bottle Award winner Herman Schueremans, who presented the Bottle Award 2018 to ILMC’s founder, Martin Hopewell. Hopewell – who believed he would be, as usual, presenting the Bottle Award – was instead its recipient, and received a standing ovation from the audience (after tearing up the now-useless speech he’d prepared for the ‘winner’).

An emotional Hopewell closed the ceremony by paying tribute to ILMC’s former producer, Alia Dann Swift, and Dave Chumbley of Primary Talent, both of whom passed away in 2018.

Notably, all Arthurs for individuals – the awards for best assistant, professional services, new talent, agent and promoter – were won by women. The ceremony, on Thursday 8 March, coincided with International Women’s Day.

To view a photo gallery of the evening, visit flic.kr/s/aHskuAJjEp.

A full list of Arthur Awards 2018 winners is below.

 


Venue (First venue to come into your head)
The O2, London (UK)

Production services (Services above and beyond)
eps

Professional services (Most professional professional)
Gillian Park, MGR Touring

Festival (Liggers’ favourite festival)
Glastonbury (UK)

Ticketing (The golden ticket)
Ticketmaster

Assistant (The people’s assistant)
Eliza-Jane Oliver, AEG Presents

New business talent (Tomorrow’s new boss)
Anna-Sophie Mertens, Live Nation

Agent (Second least offensive agent)
Natasha Bent, Coda

Promoter (The promoters’ promoter)
Anna Sjölund, Live Nation Sweden

Bottle Award
Martin Hopewell

 


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