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International booking agency Pitch & Smith divides

European booking agency Pitch & Smith (P&S) has effectively split in two, with three former agents breaking away to launch new venture Playbook Artists.

Launched by Eleanor McGuinness, Nikita Lavrinenko and Paul McGivern, the new agency brings together more than 45 years of experience as well as a roster that includes Angel Olsen, Weyes Blood, Son Lux, Andy Shauf, This Is the Kit and Cut Copy.

Meanwhile, P&S founders Stefan Juhlin and Kalle Lundgren Smith will remain at the company along with team members based in London.

Juhlin tells IQ it was a mutual decision for the two parties to go their separate ways: “For Kalle and myself, we felt this was a good time to go back to where we once started, putting all our time and energy on fewer artists, with a very simple and straightforward organisation behind it. We’re confident this will benefit everyone, both ourselves and our artists.”

“For Kalle and myself, we felt this was a good time to go back to where [P&S] once started”

P&S will now be headquartered in Stockholm, where it was founded in 2007, with a roster that includes Caribou, José González and Toro Y Moi.

The agency will work will continue to work with the three former agents at Playbook, which will launch offices in London, Berlin and Dublin ‘to bring their international perspective to the European/UK live circuit’.

“The last year has been tough for the industry as a whole, but this feels like the perfect opportunity to collaboratively bring together the best of our experiences and shared values, and build something new with friends and partners,” says Playbook’s Paul McGivern.

“I don’t know two harder-working or more engaged agents than Eleanor and Nikita and I’m proud to be partners with them in the launch of PlayBook Artists.”

“We are all determined to bring new approaches and concepts to life and rethink what a modern, artist-focused agency can be”

Eleanor adds: “It’s important to all of us to support the independent network, especially after the challenges of the last year, and the years yet to come. Paul, Nikita and I come from a similar background of working independently, and we are very proud of that and the long term approach we have to our artists.”

Nikita comments: “It’s easy to get caught up in a “doom and gloom” mentality when the times are difficult. That’s why I love seeing excitement, energy and new ideas sprawling out conversations I have with Eleanor and Paul. We are all determined to come out of this stronger, bring new approaches and concepts to life and rethink together what a modern, artist-focused agency can be these days.”

The three partners will be joined by former Pitch & Smith agent assistant Duncan Smith, who will assume the role of agent with a roster that includes Happyness, Shopping, Lime Garden, LICE, Home Counties, and new signing Clara Mann.

Playbook follows the launch of Field Booking, Arrival ArtistsMint Talent Group and TBA Agency in the US, as well as Marshall Live AgencyMother ArtistsOne Fiinix LiveRoute One Booking and Runway Artists in the UK and Rebel Beat Agency in Spain, in 2020, amid a wider fragmentation of the global agency sector in response to the coronavirus shutdown.


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New signings and rising stars (July 2020)

UK four-piece Lime, a new signing for Pitch & Smith’s Duncan Smith, and US pop-poet Taylor Castro, newly repped by John Giddings at Solo, are among the latest acts to have been added to the rosters of international agents.

Find out more, and check out the full list of new signings for June–July, below. Plus, if you haven’t already, make sure to listen to IQ’s latest New Signings playlist, which complements the page in the magazine and features even more up-and-coming talent…


Lime (UK)

Agent: Duncan Smith, Pitch & Smith

Brighton quartet Lime jump over genre boundaries with an energy that oozes from every corner, weaving post-punk foundations with earworm melodies and razor-sharp, tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

With debut single ‘Surf N Turf’ already passing 30,000 streams and landing a spot on the BBC 6 Music playlist, the band are set to follow up with new music in late summer and a busy live schedule (fingers crossed!), including supports with Happyness, Junodream and more.


Taylor Castro

Taylor Castro (US)

Agent: John Giddings, Solo Agency

Poetic lyrics, such as those on ‘Abyss’, is one sure-fire way Taylor Castro sets herself apart from the oversaturated market of pop music. The instrumentation indicates Castro as someone with a keen eye on the trends of the music industry, with her outstanding lyrics tucked away in a package disguised as the hit of the summer.

The fairytale-like ‘Abyss’ is one of the finest feats of storytelling you will see in the charts. This is a talent caught right at the beginning of her journey, and we are privileged to share it with her.


For full artist listings, including new signings for ATC Live, UTA, Paradigm, Primary Talent, ITB, Cabin Artists, Fmly, Pitch & Smith, Progressive Artists and the Lullabye Factory, see the digital edition of IQ 90:

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Paradigm invests in UK sync specialist Pitch & Sync

Paradigm has bought a stake in London-based sync and sound branding agency Pitch & Sync, further expanding its music representation practice in the UK.

After  taking a majority interest in Coda Agency in 2019, Paradigm’s deal with Pitch & Sync – spearheaded by Paradigm’s UK leadership team – broadens its global offering in an important sector.

Pitch & Sync, which is based in London with additional offices in Berlin and Amsterdam, was founded by Alex Lavery and Simon Robinson in 2006. The firm specialises in finding, creating and curating sound and music for consumer brands – with clients including Nike, Intel and Heineken – and other content creators.

The agency will continue to operate under its own name, but will integrate its business operations into Paradigm, working closely with Paradigm’s in-house brand partnerships team led by commercial director Debbie Ward, who is speaking at the upcoming International Live Music Conference in March.

Pitch & Sync also brings knowledge of the emerging artist network, providing new A&R opportunities for Paradigm.

“This is a game changer for us and what are able to do for our clients.”

“We’re thrilled to be in business with Alex, Simon and the whole Pitch & Sync team,” comments Paradigm London Partner James Whitting. “They’re leaders in their field and we’re excited about what Pitch & Sync can achieve in tandem with our wider Paradigm brand partnerships business.”

Pitch & Sync co-principal and co-founder Alex Lavery adds that the “new association with Paradigm, whose leadership in live music and powerful relationships with management will allow us to operate further upstream, grow our team and enhance our capabilities.

“This is a game changer for us and what are able to do for our clients.”

Paradigm’s roster of globally-represented music artists includes Halsey, Shawn Mendes, Imagine Dragons, Janet Jackson, Billie Eilish, Gucci Mane, Kacey Musgraves, Liam Gallagher, Sia, Normani, Tiësto and Zedd.

The agency also handles international representation outside North America for Bon Iver, Ellie Goulding, FKA twigs, Lewis Capaldi, Liam Payne, Mark Ronson, Pusha T, Rag’n’Bone Man, Rita Ora, Robyn and Take That.


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Agent Nikita Lavrinenko joins Pitch and Smith

International booking agency Pitch and Smith has welcomed Nikita Lavrinenko as a new agent, as the agency he co-founded, Paper and Iron Booking, becomes part of the Pitch and Smith family.

Lavrinenko joins Pitch and Smith from the agency he co-founded in 2005. His roster includes artists Angel Olsen, Weyes Blood, Jenny Hval, Rodrigo Amarante, Matmos, Ryley Walker and Torres. The Paper and Iron brand will be retired with Lavrinenko’s transition.

Founded in Stockholm in 2007 by Kalle Lundgren Smith and Stefan Juhlin, Pitch and Smith later opened a London office, which serves as its headquarters. One of the agency partners of the 2019 International Festival Forum (IFF), Pitch and Smith has a roster that includes Caribou, José Gonzalez, Viagra Boys and Toro Y Moi.

“I’m excited about teaming up with Pitch and Smith and this new chapter,” comments Lavrinenko, who will continue to be based in Berlin.

“All of us here at Pitch and Smith are great admirers of Nikita’s work as an agent, as well as being big fans of his roster”

“In addition to being a natural fit in terms of my artist roster, I think we share a lot of similarities in our creative and strategic approach, plus the desire for building meaningful lasting relationships with artists and partners. I’m confident that our combined experience, resources and entrepreneurial spirit will be valuable for all parties.”

“All of us here at Pitch and Smith are great admirers of Nikita’s work as an agent, as well as being big fans of his roster,” says co-founder Lundgren Smith.

“Over the last couple of years we’ve got to know each other better and have discovered we have a lot of things in common, not only in terms of our core values but also why we got into this business in the first place. Needless to say, we are very excited to have such an experienced agent joining our team.”

IFF, the International Live Music Conference’s (ILMC) invitation-only event for festivals and bookers, took place from 24 to 26 September 2019.


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