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CAA invests in publisher Primary Wave

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has taken a minority stake in private music publishing and talent management company Primary Wave.

New York-headquartered Primary Wave has a catalogue that consists of over 800 top 10 singles, more than 400 number-one hits, and some of the most legendary names in music, including Prince, Bob Marley, Whitney Houston, James Brown, Stevie Nicks, Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Bing Crosby and Def Leppard.

The deal will see CAA leverage its film, television, theatrical and branding teams for the placement of acquired copyrights. While Primary Wave will benefit from the agency’s “artistic, creative, relationship and content-creation clout, unheard of in the music publishing space”.

News of the partnership comes as Brookfield Asset Management Inc. strikes a $2 billion deal with Primary Wave to invest in music rights.

As part of the deal, Brookfield will acquire a significant minority interest in the publisher and commit $1.7 billion to a fund to buy music rights.

Primary Wave chief executive Larry Mestel told The Wall Street Journal: “[This deal] means there isn’t any good acquisition that we couldn’t do in the music business. We’re not limited by size or opportunity.”

“CAA provides artistic, creative, relationship and content-creation clout unheard of in the music publishing space”

The publisher says Brookfield and CAA, with the continued involvement of funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, will provide unique financial, creative, and global relationships to the music powerhouse.

“Brookfield is among the most intelligent and well-financed deal-makers in the world,” says Mestel. “What separates them from every other financially oriented investor of their size is their creativity, long-term horizon and ability to help scale unique businesses with operational expertise in addition to capital.”

Angelo Rufino, managing partner, Brookfield, adds: “We are thrilled to deliver a comprehensive capital solution to Larry and the team at Primary Wave to support their continued acquisition of the world’s most iconic music IP. Strong secular growth trends, scarcity value of assets and the continued penetration of music in new forms of content delivery underpin this significant commitment to the asset class.”

Primary Wave has spent $300 million on deals so far in 2022, with a further $600m of pending transactions expected to be completed by year-end.

The company’s catalogue also includes the likes of Prince, Bing Crosby, Luther Vandross, Chris Isaak, Teddy Pendergrass, Gerry Goffin, James Brown and many others.

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All change in US agency sector

The past few days have seen a flurry of moves in the agency world in North America, with new hires for CAA, WME, Arrival Artists and more.

Carly James has joined Creative Artists Agency as an agent in its music touring department, bringing acts including Idles, Fontaines DC and Norwegian singer-songwriter Girl in Red.

James is the latest agent to exit Paradigm Talent Agency, which she joined from the Agency Group (now UTA) in 2015.

James, whose roster also includes Squid, Tomberlin and Mild High Club, will be based in CAA’s New York office.

Elsewhere, country music agent Aaron Tannenbaum has joined WME as a partner based in its Nashville office.

“Aaron has earned a reputation in our business as an agent who has a strong ability to identify talent and takes the long-view in building an artist’s career, making him a great fit for us,” says Scott Clayton, WME’s co-head of music.

“As our Nashville office continues to grow, Aaron represents a significant addition to our team”

“As our Nashville office continues to grow, Aaron represents a significant addition to our team and we look forward to bringing his creativity and strategic approach to our colleagues and clients,” adds Jay Williams, co-head of WME’s Nashville office.

Prior to joining WME, Tannenbaum was with CAA, which he joined in 2010. He was previously an agent at Paradigm.

Newly formed boutique agency Arrival Artists has hired Ryan Farlow, who brings clients such as Enter Shikari, Mercury Rev, the Joy Formidable, Andy Shauf, Georgia and Charlie Cunningham.

Farlow, who most recently worked at Partisan Arts, will also be based in New York.

“I’m absolutely over the moon with excitement to be joining Arrival,” says Farlow. “I’ve long admired these great agents and their highest quality of work and artist-first ethics. Along with ATC Live, I believe the aligned values and worldwide approach here will make Arrival a leading light for years to come. I’m excited to get to work.”

Arrival co-founding agent and partner John Bongiorno adds: “I’m thrilled to have Ryan joining us at Arrival. If there is any agent who exemplifies what Arrival stands for, it’s Ryan. He is a true agent who books career artists, thrives in a team setting, is as creative as they come, and whose clients love him.”

“If there is any agent who exemplifies what Arrival stands for, it’s Ryan”

Bongiorno adds: “We’ve worked side by side for close to 14 years and we’re so excited to welcome him and his incredible roster of clients.”

UTA, meanwhile, is losing one of its prominent female executives as Natalia Nastaskin, formerly GM of the agency’s music group, heads to publishing company Primary Wave.

In her new role, Nastaskin will look after a roster that includes Stevie Nicks, Bob Marley, Whitney Houston and Ray Charles, as well as a management stable of Cee Lo Green, Cypress Hill and more.

“I am incredibly excited to be joining the Primary Wave family and will be forever grateful for the opportunities that UTA has provided me,” she says. “By guiding the ascent of UTA Music into a dominant player in artist representation, now gives me the opportunity to explore an entirely new sector which is rapidly developing and thriving.

“For an avid music fan like myself, every song tells a story, and Primary Wave’s extraordinary artists and assets provide a vast canvas for creativity around them. As chief content officer, I look forward to identifying a myriad of ways to tell those legendary stories in unique ways through diverse media.”


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