The consolidation in the talent representation space continues. Agency for the Performing Arts and music touring agency Artist Group International (AGI) are merging, with the combined full-service agency rebranded as Independent Artist Group (IAG). APA President Jim Osborne is being named CEO of IAG, with Dennis Arfa, founder and CEO of AGI, as Chairman of the Music Division of IAG. Former longtime APA CEO Jim Gosnell will serve on the board of AGI alongside Osborne and Arfa.
AGI was founded 35 years ago by Arfa and acquired by Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Entertainment in 2012. The client roster that it brings to IAG includes Billy Joel, Metallica, Def Leopard, Rod Stewart, Motley Crue, Linkin Park, Jane’s Addiction, Darryl Hall & John Oates, Norah Jones, Neil Young, The Strokes, Smashing Pumpkins, Ghost and Elvis Costello.
APA Lays Off Several Music Agents, Including Department Head Bruce Solar
The merger, which had been rumored for awhile, stems from an agreement between APA and Yucaipa Entertainment. It marks a natural progression for the two agencies which have been collaborating closely following Yucaipa’s major non-equity investment in APA in September 2020 on non-touring opportunities for such AGI clients as Joel, Hall and Ghost.
In preparation for the consolidation, APA last week laid off several agents in its music/touring department, including Head of Music Bruce Solar.
AGI’s President Marsh Vlasic is being named Vice-Chair of the IAG Music Division. Dennis Arfa and Vlasic, along with AGI COO Jarred Arfa, AGI President of Touring Adam Kornfeld and the rest of the senior agents and staff, will all be joining IAG, which will have offices in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and Atlanta.
“Dennis Arfa and his exceptional colleagues at AGI are revered in the industry, having built a spectacular artist roster and a sterling reputation,” Osborne said. “This new partnership with AGI and our rebrand to Independent Artist Group (IAG) is another major step that elevates us within the agency landscape…and we are not done yet!”
This is the latest M&A deal in the talent representation space where agencies and management companies have been scaling up to ensure survival and be able to compete.
It follows a year, during which APA bulked up by going on an agent hiring spree. Over that period, APA brought in 21 new agents, including 16 from CAA, UTA and ICM Partners, and signed more than 300 new clients.
“After 40 plus years at the agency, this is without a doubt the strongest position we have ever been in,” Gosnell said. “With that in mind, it has been the tradition of this agency to pass the leadership baton on to the next generation when the time is right. I am proud to now pass the job of CEO to Jim Osborne, whose growth as an agent, executive and leader over the past 12 years has been truly remarkable and impressive. I know he will do a fabulous job and I am here to support him in every way.”
Osborne, who spearheaded APA’s aggressive agent recruitment efforts, started his career on the desk of then-ICM uber agent Ed Limato. He then went to Paradigm for a few years before joining APA where he rose from agent to Head of Talent to President and now CEO.
“Jim Gosnell has been an incredible steward of this agency for decades and without his leadership, we would not be where we are today,” Osborne said. “Our offices remain side by side and we will rely on him greatly to help guide our future.”
APA clients include Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Gary Oldman, Regina Hall, Donnie Yen, Lily Gladstone, William H. Macy, Nathalie Emmanuel, Delroy Lindo, Brianna Hildebrand, Tyrese Gibson, Melisa Leo, John Cusack, Cole Hauser, Ms. Pat, Ken Jeong and Rosa Salazar as well as Margaret Atwood (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), the Truman Capote and Mario Puzo Estates, Lee Child (Reacher), Candace Bushnell, William Gibson, CJ Box (Big Sky), Nick Bakay (How To Be A Bookie), Vijal Patel (Pradeeps of Pittsburgh), John Carpenter (Halloween) and Mel Gibson.
In addition to Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson and Mary J. Blige, current APA touring clients coming to IAG include Lauryn Hill, 2 Chainz and Ne-Yo as well as comedy touring veterans Martin Lawrence, Mike Epps, Loni Love and Felipe Esparza.
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