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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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Steve Martin and Andy Somers launch Paladin Artists

Another new independent agency, Paladin Artists, has made its debut after former APA staffers Steve Martin and Andy Somers gathered a team of nine other agents to launch offices in Los Angeles, New York City and London.

Paladin has also created a strategic partnership with Wayne Forte of Entourage Talent Associates and Karrie Goldberg of The Kagency in a deal they say will re-envision the agency business, looking at artist and brand representation, touring and live events, literary representation, theatre production, touring exhibitions and estate management.

In addition to the principals, the Paladin Artists team will include agents Magaly Barone, Kath Buckell, Chyna Chuan-Farrell, Christian Ellett, Steve Ferguson, Seth Rappaport, Sara Schilevert and Zach Silva.

According to Celebrity Access, the turmoil caused by the Covid pandemic allowed Paladin’s founders time to assess the overall industry landscape and devise a more evolutionary approach to the agency side of the business.

Somers says, “Paladin, Entourage and The Kagency share similar visions and will each benefit by the sharing of information, experiences, and common goals; exploring new means of improving the future of artist and brand representation while remaining independent at a controllable scale of operation.”

“The industry is rapidly evolving and will continue to do so in the post-pandemic world”

Martin adds, “The world has been through hell for the last 18 months with many places and people still struggling. I’m simply grateful to work with people I like and artists that I respect, enjoy and have fruitful relationships with. Many were able to take a step back during the shutdown and evaluate what is important, be it personal or business. The industry is rapidly evolving and will continue to do so in the post-pandemic world.”

Both veterans of the independent scene, Martin and Somers have worked together for decades as their careers saw them both instrumental in the growth of Neil Warnock’s The Agency Group.

For his part, ILMC stalwart Wayne Forte says, “This pandemic has highlighted how short life truly is. So, why not work with people and clients one genuinely likes and with whom one shares similar visions and philosophies. The establishment and building of yet another successful business is a bonus! After all, success is not simply a destination, it’s a constant journey.”

The Kagency, founded by Karrie Goldberg in 2004, built one of the first venue representation businesses in North America focused solely on handling the corporate/private event, film and photo bookings for their clients. The company portfolio currently includes more than 500 traditional and non-traditional venues in the US and UK, while its talent roster includes artists and brands such as Nike, Givenchy, Duran Duran, Beyonce, Cartier, Under Armour, Maserati and Vogue.


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