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Why artists need an agent

The focus of my work as an agent is on territories outside of the USA, especially in Europe, Latin America, Australasia, Japan/Asia etc. Many large acts do sell the ‘Whole World Tour’ to LN or AEG. However all tours still have to be routed and there are places where the ‘big’ promoters do not have companies or local relationships.

Often, with tour routes that we have helped to create (many times with those ‘big’ promoters), we include additional and useful ‘sell off’ shows. We also act as a buffer between the Manager/Artist and the Promoter. There are often difficult decisions to be made on logistics, local compliance rules, movement of equipment, local tax issues, currency fluctuations, insurance for pandemics and much more to make a tour run smoothly.

We also check the books (although vanishingly few promoters are dishonest). The point I’m making is that [contrary to the claim that, “to a great degree, the agent is an antiquated concept”] we agents have always provided good ‘old fashioned’, time-honoured service. Here are some of the reasons I say this:

We have geographical understanding gained from years of experience. Local ‘on the ground’ issues are informed and resolved by a wealth of knowledge about locality, culture, company, client, that we have accumulated over time.

We store fundamental information such as how long it takes to overnight from A-B (drive times), the network of ferry links, transport restrictions, crew swaps, air-freight of equipment, charter flights and the many behind-the-scenes activities that collectively make a tour work (we do all this in association with artist production managers and transport companies)

Sure you can leave much to promoters but an AGENT fighting for the artist in their corner provides a crucial and significant service. We’re a vital cog in the overall process. As well as handling regular fee negotiations, much else of what is done by the agent maximises earnings for the artist. At a basic level, the premise that the manager just calls Michael Rapino and makes the global deal (thereby cutting out the agent) could be perceived as short term saving. But believe me, in the longer term, this ‘by-passing’ of our role and function would be more costly because of the reservoir of accumulated knowledge and pivotal insight an agent is able to bring to the party.

An agent fighting for the artist in their corner provides a crucial and significant service

The artist relationship with a bigger promoter is partly founded on big bucks advances and guarantees. Undoubtedly this alliance has a role to play as financial certainty helps to keep the world running. Nevertheless, and for reasons I have indicated above, the contribution of the agent remains critical to the success of the enterprise. I would also add that territories outside of the USA represent about half the touring world and an agent ‘on the ground’ with local knowledge is an indispensable element in the equation.

The concept of ‘agent’ is not antiquated and the function is much more than paperwork. We help break talent by assisting younger acts to get a leg up. We foster record label, radio, tv and social media liaisons. We also have excellent relationships with all the top managers. Those guys appreciate the added value and hard work that an agent invests in their artists’ success. The strength and depth of the relationships that we have forged with a number of strong headliners has also been influential when it comes to negotiating with promoters, festivals and other venues. The presence of an agent will be significantly more consequential to an artist, adding value and helping to build or sustain their career in such an uncertain world we now face.

The desired end result of an agent’s presence is to allow the artist to concentrate on their performance and give of their best to their audience, free from any external concerns which may have arisen.

The holistic nature of the agent’s relationship with an artist/manager means we’re always there for them, supporting, protecting, nurturing through thick and thin. Our agency representation list and enduring artist bonds speaks for itself.

The pendulum of live music swings between the power of a) the artists and promoters and b) the public who pay good money to see the music performed. In the present climate of uncertainty, the law of the jungle applies so lets allow the market to determine “who agrees what”. You can’t blame Rapino for trying to close the gaps [by renegotiating deals for 2021]. He is a caring and intuitive man who has given up his own salary for the cause.

 


Rod MacSween is co-founder and CEO of International Talent Booking and IQ’s Agent of the Decade. This article originally appeared in the Lefsetz Letter and is reproduced here with Rod’s permission.

Rod MacSween: Agent of the Decade

Ask any of his friends, colleagues and clients about Rod MacSween and you soon learn the true meaning of the term enigma. 2019 marked his 50th anniversary in live music, but aside from receiving an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, the University of Exeter, the year passed without too much fanfare for MacSween, who simply got on with the business of booking tours and festival slots for his astounding roster of headlining clients.

“He’s married to ITB Ltd – that’s his real passion,” states Colin Newman of accountants and business advisors SRLV, whose relationship with MacSween dates back the entirety of those 50 years. “His dedication to his clients is incredible and I think that’s what still drives him.”

ITB partner, Barry Dickins, agrees. “Rod lives to work, while I work to live. You could not find two people more unalike than Rod and I, but it works, and he has helped to make me a rich man. He’s one of the best agents of all time and if I was a manager, I’d definitely want Rod to be my agent.”

Early years
Born in Southampton, England, Rod grew up with his siblings in the New Forest on England’s south coast. His surname (and Scottish roots) hail from the remote Isle of Lewis, where, in days gone by, he would regularly visit the family croft – a farm smallholding.

“His parents were both academics, so I think they were ecstatic when he decided to study chemistry and statistics at Exeter University,” says Diana Pereira, MacSween’s long-time assistant at ITB. “I don’t know if that’s where it comes from, but nobody knows numbers like Rod does. He remembers the tiniest details from deals decades ago and he even remembers the dates and capacities of the rooms.”

“His dedication to his clients is incredible and I think that’s what still drives him”

Dickins adds, “He’s very private – we’ve been in business together for 42 years, but we’ve probably had dinner outside of a working relationship about three times. But I’ve learned a few things about him over the years.”

Talking to IQ for ITB’s 40th anniversary celebrations in issue 76, MacSween acknowledged the chalk-and-cheese nature between him and Dickins. “We don’t see an awful lot of each other, but we each have much respect for what the other does,” he said. “We have always remained friends and been there for each other, as partners should be.”

Backtrack to 1969 and MacSween’s passion for music was evident. No sooner had he enrolled in university than his fellow students elected him social secretary of the Students’ Guild. He held that post for three years, bringing the likes of The Who, Pink Floyd and Robert Plant’s first group, Band of Joy, to play on campus, where 1,800 students would regularly pay £1 each to pack into the venue to benefit from MacSween’s latest booking coup.

Recalling those early days when picking up his honorary doctorate, MacSween said, “I brought The Who to Exeter on 1 May 1970 and they performed the whole of Tommy plus some hits. After the gig, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend went back to London, but Keith Moon and John Entwistle stayed, so I took them out to a nightclub and with my meagre funds I bought two bottles of champagne. Keith Moon was so overwhelmed that a student had bought him champagne that he went out and ordered a crate. Many years later, in 1992, I told that story to Eddie Vedder as a new client and the singer of Pearl Jam, and Eddie [later] told me, ‘Rod, that was the day I trusted you.’”

Agent Mike Dewdney, who has been at ITB for 31 years, observes, “That’s the thing about Rod, he’s a great storyteller, and he has hundreds of amazing stories to tell. He’s a fascinating man – like a cross between Peter Stringfellow and Inspector Morse.”

“He’s very private – we’ve been in business together for 42 years, but we’ve probably had dinner outside of a working relationship about three times”

Career moves
While his sister, Catriona, followed their parents’ path into academia, Rod turned his back on chemistry and statistics to start working life as a booking agent.

“The first time I came across Rod, he was working for Johnny Jones in a room where Johnny would sit on a riser, like a teacher, and Rod was sitting in the lecture room, along with another agent and an assistant,” recalls Live Nation chairman of international music, Thomas Johansson.

Meanwhile, Dickins’ early career saw him at the Malcolm Rose agency, then moving to work with powerful agent/promoter Harold Davidson, who later sold to MAM. “In 1975, I was in the rock department at MAM with John Giddings and Ian Wright; Rod, at that time, was at the Bron Agency with Steve Barnett, and I was hearing some good things about him – he was a hustler and a really good agent,” says Dickins. “I was a director at MAM, so I had a meeting with him and offered him a job, but Rod wanted more money than I was on, so that was the end of that.”

Having attracted a number of such offers, MacSween eventually agreed a deal to work with Don Arden’s Jet group of
companies. That role introduced him to Arden’s daughter, Sharon, who a few short years later married another longtime confidant and MacSween client, Ozzy Osbourne.

“[Sharon] was working with her father at the time,” MacSween recalls. “We, and then Ozzy, became great friends. With all their help, ITB was set-up in 1976. Barry came and joined as a partner in 1978.”

“Rod’s the best agent in the world, and in terms of financial relevance, he’s been the best in the world for many, many years”

Business manager Colin Newman says, “I was working with Don Arden as a junior accountant and that’s how I first met Rod and Sharon. I remember that Rod was the agent for the Electric Light Orchestra, who were Jet Records’ biggest act.” Dickins brought the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, The Kinks and Joni Mitchell to the fledgling ITB set-up, while MacSween’s other acts included Steve Hillage, Kiki Dee, Roy Wood’s Wizzard, and Whitesnake.

“When I took over management for Whitesnake, for some reason Rod and I were not speaking,” says Wizard Promotions founder Ossy Hoppe. “I asked the band’s lawyer, Tony Russell, to invite Rod to his office so he could meet the new manager and when Rod turned up and saw me, he said, ‘I may as well go home now.’ But I told him he was keeping the band, because he was a great agent, and we’ve never fallen out again. In fact, he’s my son, Oliver’s, godfather.”

“[Sharon] was working with her father at the time,” MacSween recalls. “We, and then Ozzy, became great friends. With all their help, ITB was set-up in 1976. Barry came and joined as a partner in 1978.”

Setting a trend for the company’s managing partners, ITB’s office set-up started out uniquely. “We’ve never had offices next to each other, but when we first started working together, the gulf was even bigger – Rod was in Tilney Street and I was at the other end of Mayfair in Hanover Square,” says Dickins. “It was a few months before me moved into the same building together when I found a whole floor in Hammer House in Wardour Street. So Rod set-up at one end and I took the other end. It’s been like that in every office since.”

Although Arden was involved, he rarely visited the ITB premises, allowing Dickins and MacSween to get on with the job of building the business. “Don was a silent partner, but I was tasked with keeping an eye on the finances for him,” explains Newman, who subsequently arranged the management buyout of the company on behalf of Dickins and MacSween in the 1980s, and remains the financial advisor for ITB, the Osbournes, and numerous other music clients to this day. That puts him in a great position to rank MacSween’s achievements. “Rod’s the best agent in the world,” he states. “And in terms of financial relevance, he’s been the best in the world for many, many years.”

Creating an empire
Until the management buyout of ITB, ownership of the company…

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 88, or subscribe to the magazine here


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New decade, new look: IQ 88 out now

IQ Magazine is back with a revamped look, compact design, additional content and brand new features for its 88th edition, which is available to read online now.

A special edition asks for special content and IQ #88 does not disappoint, with the issue’s main feature celebrating IQ’s Agent of the Decade, Rod MacSween.

Having sold more tickets internationally in the past ten years than any other agent, and with a roster boasting the likes of Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, the Who, Christina Aguilera, Kiss, Black Sabbath, and many more, MacSween is a veritable legend of the industry. The anecdotes, interviews and testimonials appearing in IQ 88 are testament to the super agent’s past and present success.

With the 32nd International Live Music Conference just around the corner – now just a week away! – this edition of IQ Magazine provides a full agenda guide to help delegates plan their jam-packed days for this year’s special game show-themed conference.

IQ Magazine is back with a revamped look, compact design, additional content and brand new features

Elsewhere in the magazine, metal takes centre stage, with an in-depth tour report on metal juggernaut Slipknot’s hugely successful We Are Not Your Kind tour, as well as a wider overview of the booming metal business.

Festivals and events dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community and the state of play in the Scottish market are other highlights of this bumper 88th edition.

The new-look magazine also comes filled with some shiny new regular features, such as the Readers’ Lives page featuring the favourite pastimes of top industry figures; the Unsung Hero feature, profiling the stars of the production world; and an agony Aunt/Uncle column, this time led by Solo Agency’s John Giddings.

As always, most content from the magazine will appear online in some form over the next few months. However, if you can’t wait for your fix of essential live music industry features, opinion and analysis, click here to subscribe now.


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Guns N’ Roses close third highest-grossing tour ever

Guns N’ Roses’ mammoth Not in this Lifetime world tour has finally drawn to a close, after three years that saw the rock legends play 158 concerts across six continents.

According to Billboard figures, the Live Nation-promoted tour grossed US$584.2 million from 5,371,891 ticket sales, making it the third highest-grossing tour in history behind Ed Sheeran’s ÷ tour ($775.6m) and U2’s 360° tour ($735.4m).

Beginning in 2016, the Not in this Lifetime tour marked the reunion of Guns N’ Roses members Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan after 13 years. It was the most successful rock tour of 2016 and the second highest-grossing tour of 2017, beaten by U2’s Joshua Tree 2017 phenomenon.

The tour has seen the rockers, who are represented by ITB’s Rod MacSween and UTA’s Ken Fermaglich, play 31 shows in Europe, 16 in Asia, 15 in South America, 8 in Australia and a sole date in South Africa.

Although home-continent shows amassed the most in terms of region – $285.5m – they fell short proportionally

Over half of the tour (55%) took place in North America, with 87 dates in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Although home-continent shows amassed the most in terms of region – $285.5m – they fell short proportionally, with 55% of the tour accounting for 49% of overall gross and 43% of net ticket sales.

The highest-grossing individual show took place at the 66,000-capacity London Stadium on 16 June 2017. The concert grossed $17.7m – 3% of the tour total – selling 140,877 tickets.

More than 100,000 fans also attended single dates at Foro Sol in Mexico City, the River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires and the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. The shows in London, East Rutherford and Buenos Aires all broke the $10m mark, along with dates at the Tallinn, Song Festival Grounds in Estonia and Allianz Parque in São Paulo, Brazil.

The mega tour ended at the beginning of November with two dates at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

As noted by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), veteran acts have consistently performed well on the touring circuit in recent years, with tours by U2, Roger Waters, Eagles, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Phil Collins bringing in “large totals” in 2018 alone.

 


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Living la vita De Luca

Like so many of his peers, Roberto De Luca’s path to the upper echelons of the live music business has not been the result of some carefully plotted plan, but rather a set of fortunate circumstances.

In 1976, Roberto launched one of Italy’s first commercial radio stations – Punto Radio 96 – but, like so many fledgling enterprises, he found it tricky to balance the books.

“I was doing the programming as well as selling advertising but the station was not making money, so I decided to do some live shows to try to pay some of the bills,” he recalls. “At the start, I was acting as a local promoter for Italian artists, but in 1980 I did a show with my first international artist, Carmel. And then I started working with the likes of Gianni Togni and Sergio Caputo, who I also managed, so my career in music started pretty quickly.”

His upbringing also involved music, although teenage rebellion hinted that sport was more compelling than performing. “I was playing classical piano from the age of about ten to 14, in my hometown, Novaro, but I was more into football,” explains the Juventus fan. “I remember having a ‘four-hands’ concert when I was to perform alongside a girl, and my mother warned me not to play football before the concert. I obviously ignored her and ended up playing the concert with stitches in my head.”

“I was playing classical piano from the age of about ten to 14, in my hometown, but I was more into football”

Other teenage musical memories aren’t quite so painful. “In 1970, I went on holiday with friends to Holland. We’d driven to Amsterdam in a blue Fiat 500 and were sleeping in a two- man tent in a campsite near a speedway track. In fact, we drove there via the Nürburgring and took the car around the track – the steam was pouring out of the car when we finished.

“But we went to see The Who and there are two things I remember about it: there was a man dressed all in white on stage – that was Pete Townsend; and the second thing was that there was a girl two rows in front of me who was completely naked.”

Stethoscopes to stages
That lesson in anatomy wasn’t to be his last. “I studied to be a doctor. My exam results were pretty good and I was looking to go into the research side of things.”

As a result, his move toward rock and roll, and the founding of Punto Radio, were brave steps. “It was a difficult conversation to have with my parents,” he says. “They were always very nice and very easy with me but they had basically given me three choices for a career: doctor, lawyer or engineer.

“My dad was a bus driver and my mother worked for the city council, but they wanted me to do something that would let me have a better lifestyle. So I think I disappointed them a bit… My father thought I was a car dealer because every time I visited them I was driving a different car.”

“There are so many wonderful individuals in this business, and you can always learn new things from them”

Landing himself a job working for established promoter Franco Mamone, De Luca was determined to maximise his entrepreneurial skills and grab a piece of the action. “The first company I was involved in owning was Prima Spectaculo. I had a 25% stake and Franco owned the rest: then, we had a similar relationship at InTalent.”

That pact with Mamone wasn’t to last, however, leading De Luca to launch Bonne Chance in 1985, putting him in direct competition with his former business partner. “I quickly found out that Bonne Chance wasn’t such a good name for the music business, so I changed it to Milano Concerti and I started working with lots of promising international acts at the start of their careers – people like Depeche Mode and Peter Gabriel, as well as artists like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Jovanotti, and the company just started to get bigger and bigger.”

Asked about mentors who helped him learn the ropes, De Luca points to “people I admired, like Miles Copeland with the Police, Ed Bicknell, Paul McGuinness, Ron Delsener and Bill Graham. I’d look at what they did and how they did it and try to do something similar. But I also learned a lot from other promoters like Thomas Johansson, Leon Ramakers and Marek Lieberberg.”

In terms of agents, he cites Pete Nash, Chris Dalston, Steve Hedges, Dave Chumbley, Barry Dickins, Rod MacSween and Martin Hopewell. “They were really good to me in the early days, as was Andy Woolliscroft, while Mike Greek and Emma Banks have always been amazing. And nowadays people like Michael Rapino, Arthur Fogel and Guy Oseary are interesting to follow, while I have learned a lot from Jonathan Kessler and I’m very good friends with David Levy.

“Roberto De Luca is one of the people who made the Italian business a little more predictable”

“There are so many wonderful individuals in this business, and you can always learn new things from them. Jon Ollier really impresses me, as do James Whitting, Adele Slater and Geoff Meall at Coda.”

Changing the Italian landscape
Talking to De Luca’s long-term business associates, the one accolade they all bestow upon him is his key role in transforming Italy into a bona fide touring market.

ILMC’s Martin Hopewell is typical. “Along with Claudio Trotta, Roberto De Luca is one of the people who made the Italian business a little more predictable,” says Hopewell. “It was the Wild West before Roberto and his peers helped to stabilise the market.”

ITB’s Rod MacSween agrees. “Italy has not always been the easiest market but Roberto and his great team make it a regular pleasure to play there,” he says, while Live Nation colleague, Arthur Fogel, notes, “Roberto has brought the highest level of organisation and professionalism to Italy. I have always relied on him for his expertise, great execution and without a doubt his sense of calm. He and his team are first rate.”

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 84, or subscribe to the magazine here

ITB’s Rod MacSween awarded honorary doctorate

British booking agent Rod MacSween, founder and CEO of International Talent Booking (ITB), has been awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Exeter, his alma mater.

MacSween – one of 11 honorary graduates in 2019, and one of three doctors of letters (DLitt) – chemistry and statistics at Exeter, and was also the university’s social secretary from 1969 to 1970.

As social secretary, MacSween brought artists including the Who, Pink Floyd and Robert Plant’s Band of Joy to the university, where they played for 1,800 students at £1 per ticket. After graduating, he spent time at various London agencies before eventually coming into the organisation of notorious manager Don Arden, where he first met Arden’s daughter, Sharon Osbourne – now a longstanding friend.

MacSween’s ITB roster still includes the Who, Robert Plant and Ozzy Osbourne

“She was working with her father at the time,” MacSween told IQ last year, as the agency celebrated its 40th birthday. “We, and then Ozzy, became great friends. With all their help, ITB was set up in 1976. Barry [Dickins] came and joined as a partner in 1978.”

At ITB, MacSween’s roster now includes the Who, Robert Plant and Ozzy Osbourne, as well as Aerosmith, Def Leppard, Guns n’ Roses, Kiss, Lenny Kravitz, Maroon 5, Morrissey, Ozzy, Pearl Jam, Scorpions and Tool.

Addressing Exeter students during his conferral, MacSween advised that “enthusiasm, commitment, integrity and a measure of risk-taking” would be key to success in their working lives.

 


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Opposites attract: ITB at 40

At ITB, they call it “going over to the dark side.”

You walk out of the open-plan space where Barry Dickins is king, and most of the other agents and assistants reside, cross reception and follow the corridor down to the other end. There, you might find Rod MacSween and his team, surrounded by shelves of highbrow books and photos of MacSween arm-around-shoulder with the cream of classic rockers: Ozzy, Page and Plant, Steven and Joe.

“We’ve always liked the idea of the company all being set out over one level, with Rod at one end of the office and me at the other, and everyone else in between,” says Dickins.

The demarcation of ‘dark’ and ‘light’ sides is jokily acknowledged by little Star Wars icons above the key-code entry systems on opposite sides of reception – on MacSween’s, the rock giants, on Dickins’, the classic singer-songwriters.

Office geography aside, Dickins and MacSween remain one of the live business’s most indivisible partnerships, still intact after 40 years that have included a 14-year spell within Live Nation, a latter-day return to independence and long-term relationships with artists including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Paul Simon and ZZ Top (Dickins’ list) and Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, The Who, Pearl Jam, Kiss, Guns N’ Roses and Maroon Five (MacSween’s).

But it’s been some time since the company was solely the sum of the founders’ still-formidable rosters.

“Me and Rod are completely different – mentally, physically and artistically. That’s probably why the business works so well”

In 2018, ITB offers strength in depth, with Dickins’s daughter Lucy famously turning up talent including Adele, Mumford & Sons, Hot Chip and James Blake, and other senior agents such as Mike Dewdney (Kasabian, Blink-182, Eels, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) and Steve Zapp (Biffy Clyro, Courteeners, Editors, The Cult) holding their own.

But while there’s plenty of work taking place at ITB between the two poles of Dickins and MacSween, it is their chalk-and-cheese relationship that still defines the public face of the business. And the more you look at it, the more you suspect this is the evergreen marriage that remains harmonious largely because they live substantially separate lives.

“Me and Rod are completely different – mentally, physically and artistically,” says Dickins. “That’s probably why the business works so well. If we were similar people then we probably would have killed each other by now.”
MacSween agrees. “We don’t see an awful lot of each other, but we each have much respect for what the other does. We have always remained friends and been there for each other, as partners should be.”

Different they may be, but the two are genuine legends of equal stature in the pantheon of agents – MacSween the tough negotiator, not one for small talk, who lives and breathes the music he represents; Dickins the charmer but certainly no pushover, with encyclopaedias of touring know-how under the silver barnet.

“He is really humble; he is not a chest-beater about how well he has done,” says Lucy Dickins. “But he is a fucking genius in this business – he is so good.”

“[Barry] is a fucking genius in this business – he is so good”

Independently, her father extends exactly the same compliment to his business partner. “Rod is a fucking genius,” says Barry. “If I was a manager then he would be our agent. He is, hands down, the best agent I’ve ever come across. He’s incredible. He gets great deals. I swear that people just give him the best deals to get him off of the phone.”

It is no coincidence that Dickins, “the hands-on, running-the-company guy,” in the words of agent Mike Dewdney, works among the rest of the agents, while MacSween maintains a separate team – three assistants, plus another agent, Ian Sales – that allows him to focus intently, even obsessively, on the needs of his artists.

“I’m a bit anal sometimes,” says MacSween. “I still make numbered lists of things to do each day. If I don’t complete any, I asterisk them and carry them forward to the next day.”

The Arden connection
When they talk to IQ – at different times, of course – Dickins, while still a very active agent, tends to survey the company as a whole, while MacSween’s focus is his faithful dedication to his own family of acts.

For such a long-lived partnership, Dickins and MacSween took a little time to get off the ground. The former, the son of NME founder Percy Dickins, had come up in the 1960s, representing The Who, Jimi Hendrix and The Nice at the Malcolm Rose agency, before honing his trade under agent-promoter Harold Davidson, who later sold to MAM.

“If I was a manager, Rod would be our agent”

“I was in the rock department at MAM in 1975, and Rod was at the Bron Agency and I’d heard good things about him,” says Barry. “I actually offered him a job at MAM but he said he wanted more money than I was on, so that conversation was fairly short.”

MacSween came into the business like many – as social secretary at the University of Exeter in the early-1970s. He spent time at various London agencies before eventually coming into the organisation of notorious manager Don Arden, where he first met Arden’s daughter, Sharon Osbourne – now a longstanding friend. “She was working with her father at the time,” MacSween recalls. “We, and then Ozzy, became great friends. With all their help, ITB was set up in 1976. Barry came and joined as a partner in 1978.”

“Don didn’t have the best reputation but I have to say that he was always good with me,” says Barry. “Anyway, it was a pretty good offer and I was young, so I thought what the hell – what did I have to lose?”

In the early days, Dickins could boast Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, The Kinks, Joni Mitchell and others. MacSween, yet to deck his office walls with most of the rockers that nowadays make up most of his client base, had ELO, Steve Hillage, Kiki Dee, Roy Wood’s Wizzard and Whitesnake.

Together, they built a formidable reputation for smart negotiating, a strong eye for career development and notably tight artist relationships. An in-depth company profile from 25 years ago in Applause magazine describes the business as much admired, big-hitting and fully formed, the characters of its co-managing directors distinctly recognisable as the ones we see now. Even then, Dutch promoter Leon Ramakers marvelled at the co-managing directors’ unlikely union, declaring it an example to all the peoples of the world of how to live in harmony.

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 76, or subscribe to the magazine here