US-based United Talent Agency (UTA) has closed a deal to acquire The Agency Group (TAG), the world’s largest independent music agency.
Adding TAG, which will be combined with UTA’s existing music division, instantly makes UTA a heavy hitter in the space, acquiring a booking agency with 95 agents and a roster of about 2,000 clients headlined by artists including Muse, The Black Keys, Paramore, Nickelback and Guns N’ Roses and featuring emerging acts including Chris Janson, Action Bronson and G-Eazy, who will all join existing UTA clients including Kanye West, and Mariah Carey who defected from CAA last month.
TAG was founded in 1981 by Neil Warnock, a music industry veteran who has represented acts including the Rolling Stones, The Doors and Michael Jackson. It has expanded aggressively in recent years to represent global clients from seven offices in Britain, US, Sweden and Canada.
TAG has more than 95 agents across seven offices in London, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New York, Toronto and Malmo, Sweden, which will give UTA a presence beyond LA and New York for the first time.
While smaller than William Morris Endeavor and Creative Artists Agency, which are both pursuing growth in the sports business, UTA has emerged in recent years as a scrappy competitor in movies and television — the traditional heart of the agency trade but one that has in recent years come under pressure, as studios and networks cut back on talent deals to weather financial turbulence.
In April, United Talent stunned Hollywood by luring about a dozen comedy agents away from Creative Artists. Last year, United Talent bought N.S. Bienstock, which represents television news personalities like Robin Roberts, Megyn Kelly, and Anderson Cooper.
The Agency Group purchase immediately thrusts UTA into the music business as the agency previously only had only five music agents of its own. Neil Warnock, the Agency Group’s president, will now lead United Talent’s music group.
In Canada, The Agency has 13 agents fronted by divisional CEO Ralph James and Jack Ross who is both President and COO. The company has 10 separate departments representing literary, culinary, fairs and festivals, private events, speakers and several categories of music.
— Sources: Financial Times, Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, New York Times. Accompanying photo--Neil Warnock.