Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Ex-Paradigm Agents Launch TBA, Clients Include The War On Drugs, Courtney Barnett, Chvrches: Exclusive | Pollstar News

TBA Logo

TBA, a music talent agency founded by five former Paradigm agents – Marshall Betts, Avery McTaggart, Amy Davidman, Ryan Craven, and Devin Landau – launched today (Sept. 1) with a number of high-profile clients including: The War On Drugs, Courtney Barnett, Chvrches, Tune-Yards, Cut Copy, Beirut, Guided By Voices, Jungle, Cuco, Purity Ring, José González, Tycho, Caribou and Alvvays among others.

The five equal partners previously worked at The Windish Agency before the firm partnered in 2015 with Paradigm Talent Agency where they worked until this past March. The 11-person TBA staff will have offices in Los Angeles and New York and is rounded out by Head of Artist Creative Strategy Samantha Tacón, Head of Marketing Katie Nowak and Agent Josh Mulder as well as Chris Danis, Lauren McCauley and Lindsey Schiffman.

"This team has consistently delivered great moments for Coachella and Goldenvoice over the years so we will be harvesting their roster for gems in the future," said Paul Tollett, co-founder of Coachella and President/CEO of Goldenvoice, in a statement.

The former Paradigm agents were let go on

March 20 in what was initially termed "temporary layoffs

" and later

reported to include some 250 employees

, including a number of highly-qualified agents and critically acclaimed and commercially successful artists. Quantifying several of TBA’s artists’ success using


Boxoffice data over the past 36 months reveals The War on Drugs grossed an average of $170K and sold an average of 4.2K tickets; Chvrches averaged $132K gross and 3.3K tickets; while Pink Martini grossed $131.5K and averaged 2.15K tickets sold.

The War on DrugsThe War On Drugs. (photo Courtesy WOD/TBA)

“The music business, and specifically the agency business has changed overnight and we are poised to meet the needs and demands of the new landscape,” said TBA partner/agent McTaggart, who is based out of L.A. and whose client list includes Jungle, Mura Masa, Yaeji, Hot Chip, Bob Moses, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Hope Tala, and Tune-Yards. We are adaptable, we are efficient, we match the creativity of our clientele – in ways truly unlike any existing agency. Our mission is to maintain collaborative, ongoing relationships with our artists and their teams that breed new thinking and long-term success."

“Given the rapidly changing nature of live music and the uncertainty moving into next year and beyond, I could not be more certain about calling Ryan Craven and his newly formed company my guiding light,” stated Ami Spishock, owner of Fort William Artist Management, whose clients include War On Drugs and Beirut. “Strong, independent minded, artist first companies will always have a place at the table. I can’t wait to see what all they accomplish and how they change the landscape for the good.”

With the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis of the last five-and-a-half months seeing a number of high-profile executive departures from an array of businesses, including for example, WME's head of worldwide music Marc Geiger and Anthony Makes from Live Nation New York,  it is likely there will be more independent companies forming in the months ahead.

Australian singer, songwriter, and musician, Courtney Barnett Courtney Barnett at Primavera Sound Festival 2019 in Porto. (Diogo Baptista/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)

“Now is the perfect time to create a new agency for the new music business,” stated Marshall Betts who is based out of New York and whose clients include Courtney Barnett, Alvvays, Jay Som, Julia Jacklin and Guided By Voices. “We want to help the arts community come back as a whole, and we see this as an exciting investment everyone on our team is able to make. Creating new deals and working on the evolving role of an agent with promoters and managers is something that will change over the next few years and we’re in a perfect position to be a leader in that field."

“The live music industry is going through a transition and the most important thing I’ve learned is that human relationships, friendships, strong morals and values are often undervalued," said Leizer Guss of Mexico's OCESA/Corona Capital Festival, in a statement, underscoring the value of individual employees. "TBA agency is filled with real people and agents that understand this and use it as a daily motto. As a promoter I feel heard when talking to these guys and that it’s a two-way street of consistent communication always to make sure we all collaborate with the goal of connecting fans with artists, while we try and make the world a better place through art and music.”

When asked about the company's double, or perhaps triple entendre name, TBA's Amy Davidman told Pollstar that the name is "really apropos of  the moment." The partner and agent, who formerly worked for New York's Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge and the Bay Area's High Road Touring before joining Windish, said "People get a little giggle out of it, and that's just a great reaction to have. There's this moment where people ask, 'Oh, what's the name?' I say, 'TBA.'  And they're like, 'Oh, yeah. What do you think you're going to name it?' I just love that moment. I mean obviously that won't go on for very long because people will know but I'm like, 'Yeah. No. That's the name.'"

Davidman, who is based in the Bay Area, represents artists including Caribou, Pink Martini, Hiatus Kaiyote, José González’s, Cut Copy, Bebel Gilberto Cuco, Helado Negro, Ana Tijoux, and more. Her client Caribou (a.k.a. Dan Snaith) said in a statement that, " “For live music to move forward in these challenging times we need booking agents and agencies that care about artists, fans and, above all else, music itself. TBA agency is exactly that kind of agency. Caribou have worked with Amy Davidman for well over a decade, she, like her partners in setting up TBA, has repeatedly proven herself to be, aside from an effective and consummate professional, someone who cares about helping her artists thrive and building the communities in which they and all music lovers exist.”

The agency's other partner/agent Devin Landau, worked for the Surefire Agency for nearly seven years before joining Windish in 2016 and has extensive knowledge of touring in both Latin and general market artists on a global level. When asked how the TBA team came together he said that, "There was a group of us all chatting closely when the pandemic hit and I think we just were looking at each other (over zoom or a call or something like that) and were like, 'Are we going to do this thing or what?!.' It felt natural and quick to be honest." His roster includes Cuco, Pabllo Vittar, Boy Pablo, The Midnight, Nicola Cruz, Ed Maverick, and many others. Devin is based in LA.

Others on the TBA launch team include: agent Josh Mulder, whose roster includes Remi Wolf, JAWNY, Faye Webster, Orion Sun, Sudan Archives, Hope Tala and more; Samantha Tacón, TBA's Head of Artist Creative Strategy who's executed artist-inspired projects with Netflix, Gucci, Microsoft, Adidas, Balenciaga and HBO. Samantha is based in LA; and Katie Nowak who was Marketing Director for AEG Global Touring, where she oversaw the live marketing campaigns for artists including Sturgill Simpson, Tyler, The Creator, ILLENIUM, and Juice WRLD. Prior to AEG, Katie served as Tour Marketing Director at Paradigm Talent Agency and CAA.

Perhaps the most telling testimonial supporting the new agency is from a talent buyer whose well-wishes may carry the most weight considering the hard-nosed negotiations that can transpire between a booker and agent. "Congrats to the entire TBA team," said Sonia Grover, the talent buyer at Minneapolis' First Avenue Presents. "We’ve had the pleasure of working with this awesome roster of folks for many years, and we are super excited to continue doing so in this new endeavor. These amazing agents rep artists we know and love, and new artists we can’t wait to work with. Let’s book some shows!"

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