Among Coachella's 100,000 unwashed (or at least dusty) masses, perhaps none was more elated to attend the desert fest than first-timer Jeremy Zimmer. The 57-year-old CEO of United Talent Agency, which last August acquired The Agency Group to form UTA Music, had 27 artists (in certain territories) play the two weekend event -- UTA's highest booking tally ever. This included a certain act that, until recently, no one ever thought would again perform.
"Guns N' Roses were amazing," says Zimmer about the festival headliners whose representation is led by UTA Music's Ken Fermaglich. "They were genuinely excited to be there and played late into the night [nearly 2 1/2 hours]. There was so much enthusiasm and a massive young audience who were as excited to be in the middle of it all as many of the original Guns N' Roses fans."
For Zimmer, like most who attend Coachella, the hardest part was trying to catch as much music as possible across the Empire Polo Club's massive 78-acre spread. "There was always something going on which was great," says Zimmer, "but I had so many colleagues there. They were in from the U.K., Canada, New York and Los Angeles -- everywhere I went, I was running into them. It was a chance for a bunch of us to get together in a music format and really spend time together, which was really rewarding as obviously was seeing so many of our clients give amazing performances."
Indeed, while the traditional big gun agencies had the likes Calvin Harris, LCD Soundsytem, Ellie Goulding (WME); the Chainsmokers (CAA); Sia and Major Lazer (Paradigm/Windish), UTA made its presence felt this year boasting such buzzy performers as G-Eazy and well-received sets by Foals, Parov Stelar and a cameo by Post Malone during Jack Ü's set ("I love him," enthused Zimmer), among others.*
With that many UTA clients performing in once place, one would think Coachella would have been a peak experience for Zimmer who last August helped steer the acquisition of the Agency Group, the largest independent music agency with some 2,000 acts and close to a hundred agents which was then combined with UTA's music division to form UTA Music. "I wouldn't say culmination," Zimmer says, "but it felt like the lift off for the next phase of the rocket because we are much closer to the beginning than we are to the culmination. We've brought this group in and everyone is working incredibly well together and we're just beginning to see the fruit of our efforts together."
When asked how Coachella compared to the film festival circuit like Sundance and Cannes where he's a regular, Zimmer gets straight to the heart of the matter. "It's all about the audience," he says. "There were 100,000 people there who really really love music who are there to have a complete and thorough experience where they get to see as much great music as they can possibly listen to. There's something about the community of a music festival that is very special."
Now that he's attended and enjoyed his first major music festival, the question is will the CEO become a staple of open-air music gatherings? "For today I'm excited I made it to my first Coachella and I'm excited that UTA had such a great showing," Zimmer says before adding, "I've heard great stuff about European festivals."
*Correction appended: previous versions of this article erroneously implied Chvrches, Cold War Kids and Underworld were booked at Coachella by UTA Music when in fact for the U.S. Paradigm Music Group represents Chvrches and Cold War Kids and WME is Underworld's U.S. agency. UTA Music represents these artists worldwide except in North America.