Several top agents gathered at IEBA this week to discuss the future of live music in a panel moderated by Tim Epstein of Duggan Bertsch, LLC.
Participating in the Agents Power Panel were CAA’s Rod Essig, UTA’s Jeffrey Hasson, AGI’s Adam Kornfeld and WME’s Nate Towne.
Of the many points made, the agents talked a lot about how they are navigating touring in the COVID pandemic, livestreaming and new touring technology, and the differences in COVID protocols across venues.
The Past 18 Months
“Looking back, I wish I would have just told my employees to take six months and not make a phone call because it didn’t really matter. We just kept moving everything,” Essig said. “Our business was devastated with no income whatsoever.”
“Touring is a huge part of what we do, but there’s also other parts of what we do as far as artist representation,” Hasson shared. “We raise artist profiles and finances in other areas like with brand deals and streaming. We got creative because we had to. It was a drop in a bucket, it doesn’t come close to what we usually do, but it made us feel useful. We had our artists backs and were trying our hardest to come up with creative solutions on their behalf.”
Towne added, “There was a refocusing on the symbiotic relationship between agent and promoter and agent and buyer, as opposed to the adversarial relationship that it can sometimes be. It was a good reminder and a good centering place. I’m proud of how everyone reacted to what was going on, and how we were able to work together.”
“[Livestreaming] exploded because of the pandemic, obviously, but the technology was always there,” Kornfeld said. “Generally speaking, bands did not see the profit that they were hoping for from livestreaming. I don’t think it’s something that a band is going to depend on like they depend on touring, but I can see it becoming a part of a tour or another thing added on… It’s an extra income, the way VIP is or the way merch is. It’s another avenue to connect with fans.”
Towne agreed. “It’s supplemental. I’m excited for where it could go with augmented reality and other creative things artists can do,” he said. “The future holds a lot of exciting things with different AR and VR type technology that could transform the entertainer experience whether you’re there or not there watching it on some other medium.”
“Hopefully by January, February or March, we need one protocol so that our fans are not totally confused,” Essig said. “You go to Ascend Amphitheater and you have to show your vaccine card or a test; you walk across the river to Nissan and you don’t have to show anything. Our fans are mixed up. We have to get back to saying ‘Here’s what it is for everybody.'”
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