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Wasserman Music acquires Paradigm’s UK business

Wasserman Music has acquired Paradigm UK’s live music business in a deal that expands both the agency’s global client roster and its European footprint.

The blockbuster deal comes a year after the launch of Wasserman Music, which itself followed the completion of its acquisition of Paradigm’s North American live music business.

UK partners Dave Hallybone, Alex Hardee, Tom Schroeder and James Whitting, who founded Coda Agency in 2002, have joined the Wasserman Music managing executive team as part of the deal, which reunites the London-based team with their North American colleagues. Coda partnered with Paradigm in 2014 and fully came under the Paradigm name in 2019.

“With this group under one banner, we now have a truly scalable and serviceable global music practice”

“I am incredibly proud to reunite Alex, Dave, James, Tom and their team with the full force of our Wasserman Music group,” says Wasserman chairman and CEO Casey Wasserman, who will deliver a keynote interview at ILMC 34 tomorrow (27 April) at London’s Royal Garden Hotel. “They not only persevered through a once in a lifetime pandemic, but prioritised their clients and partnerships in a way that is consistent with our values and commitment to talent. With this group now under one banner, we now have a truly scalable and serviceable global music practice and look forward to strengthening our platform together.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to be back under the same name as our longtime partners in London,” says Wasserman Music EVP and managing executive Marty Diamond. “We share common values and a deep commitment to artist development, and with live music coming back huge this year, we’re confident that together we can secure the health, success and growth of our clients’ careers throughout the world.

“We have persevered and continued to excel in our global efforts during this incredibly challenging time, and we have worked closely through it all to provide continuous service to our clients.”

“Casey and his team are the most ambitious we have ever met”

Wasserman Music’s roster now includes globally represented artists Baby Keem, Bastille, Billie Eilish, Brent Faiyaz, Disclosure, Drake, Frank Ocean, Fred again.., Imagine Dragons, Kacey Musgraves, Kenny Chesney, Liam Gallagher, Louis Tomlinson, Normani, ODESZA, Old Dominion, Pharrell, Sia, Skrillex, Sturgill Simpson, SZA, Turnstile, Wet Leg and Zedd, among others.

With the UK client roster merging into Wasserman Music, the agency now also handles international representation outside North America for artists including Bon Iver, FKA Twigs, Lewis Capaldi, Liam Payne, Mark Ronson, My Chemical Romance, PinkPantheress, Rag’n’Bone Man, Rita Ora, Robyn, Sean Paul, Shawn Mendes, Take That and X Ambassadors.

“The pandemic was incredibly testing for the industry,” says London partner Tom Schroeder. “It really made us all look at everything we have achieved and where we were going. What we saw in Wasserman was a company very different from others – dynamic, fast-moving, open, and honest. The commitment from our staff was incredible, and I couldn’t be more proud and determined to continue our journey.

“Casey and his team are the most ambitious we have ever met, and their reach and vision is inspiring. We have always seen ourselves as the alternative, and that fits better today than ever before.”

“The UK music partners are an exceptional group, and we congratulate them on this new chapter”

Over the course of 20 years, Wasserman has established itself as one of the world’s leading companies in the areas of brands and properties consultancy, sports talent representation and music artist representation. The addition of a London office adds to Wasserman’s network of more than 30 offices in 14 countries on three continents.

Sam Gores, majority shareholder of Paradigm Music UK, adds: “The UK music partners are an exceptional group, and we congratulate them on this new chapter.”

Paradigm will continue its collaboration with Wasserman Music through the shared representation of music clients in film, television, theatre, and publishing.

 


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Paradigm refutes $2m lawsuit by former agent

A recently laid-off agent has filed a lawsuit against Paradigm Talent Agency, with allegations that both the agency and its CEO Sam Gores deny.

Debbee Klein, who worked in the agency’s television division, is among staff to have been laid off by the company amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Klein alleges breach of contract, failure to pay wages due and owing, accounting, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and whistleblower retaliation. The full lawsuit can be read here.

“We have seen Ms Klein’s complaint and it is littered with false, frivolous and scurrilous allegations, which, fortunately for her, are protected by the First Amendment, otherwise she would be facing a defamation suit,” a spokesperson from the talent agency tells IQ.

“Both Paradigm and Mr Gores expect to be 100 percent vindicated, and our intention is to respond further in court filings.”

The lawsuit includes accusations of financial and sexual misconduct against Gores, as well as allegations of dishonesty surrounding the reasons for calling off a 2019 merger between Paradigm and UTA.

 


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Paradigm promotes four to agent

Paradigm has announced four agent promotions across its New York and Los Angeles offices, including two within its music division.

New music agent Len Chenfeld began his career at APA, later opening his own agency, Modern Sound Entertainment. He joined Paradigm in 2018 as a coordinator in the music division, working with clients including Zedd, Skrillex, Oliver Tree and Whethan. His own roster includes Joe Kay, KennyHoopla, Rebūke, Ritt Momney, Soulection, TOKiMONSTA, Y2K, and Yung Bae.

“We welcome these talented colleagues to our agent ranks, and we look forward to their many contributions”

Brittany Miller, who has also been promoted to an agent in the music division, joined Paradigm in 2014 through the New York office of AM Only, which merged into Paradigm in 2017. She worked as an assistant and later coordinator to agent Alan Gary, working with clients including 4B, Audien, Bingo Players, Madeon, Porter Robinson, and SAYMYNAME.

Elsewhere, promotions were made in the motion picture literary and talent departments, with Melisa Baloglu and Ryan Theobalt becoming agents.

“We are delighted to announce the promotions of Melisa, Len, Brittany and Ryan, which reflect not only the hard work, tenacity and passion they bring each day as client advocates, but also their commitment to our values as a company,” comments Paradigm CEO and founder Sam Gores.

“We welcome these talented colleagues to our agent ranks, and we look forward to their many contributions.”

 


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Sam Gores: ‘We are not selling Paradigm’

Sam Gores, CEO of Paradigm Talent Agency, has reiterated the company is not for sale, following US media reports over the weekend that linked the agency with a takeover by CAA.

Hollywood rival CAA (Creative Artists Agency) has “had exploratory discussions to buy Paradigm Talent Agency”, according to the LA Times, which cites two people familiar with the matter.

The discussions reportedly began last year after Paradigm pulled out of a deal to be acquired by United Talent Agency (UTA), which had similarly sought to take control of Paradigm’s powerhouse music division. The agency’s roster of globally represented artists includes Halsey, Imagine Dragons, Janet Jackson, Kacey Musgraves, Tiësto, Shawn Mendes, Sia, Kenny Chesney, Jess Glynne, Charli XCX, Bastille and Sturgill Simpson, as well as teen phenom Billie Eilish, who swept the Grammys last month, winning all four top awards.

“As I have said before, we like the independent and successful path we’re on”

According to Deadline, Paradigm is increasingly focusing on its strengths in music, and recently closed its unscripted TV department, laying off 30 agents. In total, the agency scored 85 Grammy nominations and 24 wins; its dominance in the festival space, meanwhile, was underscored recently by a much-shared Rostr infographic showing the agency breakdown at Coachella 2020, which gives Paradigm 35% of all acts. (CAA has 13%.)

In an email to staff on Saturday, Gores underscored “emphatically” that Paradigm is “not for sale, nor are we selling the agency”.

Per Deadline, Gores’s email in full reads:

Dear Colleagues:

I want to address a recent press report suggesting the potential sale of Paradigm. Let me state emphatically – we are not for sale, nor are we selling the agency.

As many of you are aware, the influx of private equity into talent agencies and the WGA stand-off, among other factors, are pushing agencies to pursue strong, diversified companies such as Paradigm.

As I have said before, we like the independent and successful path we’re on. Our focus continues to be growing Paradigm and providing the best possible opportunities for our colleagues, our artists and the art that they create.

Let’s ignore the chatter and idle speculation and stay focused on the important work at hand. I look forward to seeing you at Town Hall on Monday.

Sam

Speaking in June 2019, Gores said UTA’s offer for Paradigm would have “represented one of the largest talent agency transactions in the history of our business”, but that the latter preferred to go it alone.

 


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Paradigm CEO: Agency declined ‘historic’ offer from UTA

Sam Gores, founder, chairman and CEO of Paradigm Talent Agency, has confirmed there will be no takeover of his business by United Talent Agency (UTA), telling Paradigm staff he turned down an offer that “would have represented one of the largest” acquisitions in the history of the agency sector.

On Friday, Billboard reported that Gores and UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer had been in talks for several months about a merger that would have likely included UTA taking a majority stake in Paradigm.

Yesterday, Gores (pictured) moved to quash the speculation, revealing that there had been talks but that Paradigm had elected not to go ahead with the acquisition.

In an email to Paradigm staff, obtained by Hollywood news site Deadline, Gores told staff that the offer from UTA is “a tribute to the work that all of us have done, and the quality of the asset we have created together”.

“I want to address the events of the past week and the press reports surrounding a potential transaction between Paradigm and UTA,” wrote Gores.

“The fact is that our industry is in an era of significant change and also unprecedented opportunity.

“The complexion of what the agency business will look like has led all of the major agencies, including ourselves, to look at ways to strengthen their platforms and provide more resources to clients.

“After careful consideration … I have made the decision to shut down discussions and not make this deal”

“UTA made an offer to acquire Paradigm that would have represented one of the largest talent agency transactions in the history of our business.

“The offer was made for both the talent/literary and music divisions. This offer is a tribute to the work that all of us have done and the quality of the asset we have created together.”

Explaining the reason for his declining UTA’s offer, which would have brought independent-mided Paradigm under UTA’s corporate umbrella, as with the Agency Group in 2015, Gores continued: “After careful consideration and in consultation with leaders of both the music and talent/literary executive groups, I have made the decision to shut down discussions and not make this deal.

“There are reasons why a combination like this would have made sense for both agencies, but, in the end, what is more compelling for us is how unique the culture at Paradigm is and how powerful our independent path can be.”

“We admire Sam and the business he and his colleagues have built,” says Zimmer in a statement. “We are disappointed we didn’t come to an agreement, but we wish him and everyone at Paradigm the best.”

 


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