Dennis Arfa: The 2014 Billboard Power 100
NO. 65

Dennis Arfa

President/COO, Artist Group International

Negotiated a unique monthly residency for Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden in 2014

Dennis Arfa, a veteran agent who oversees a roster of nearly 70 acts, has proudly called legendary singer/songwriter Billy Joel a client for the past 37 years.

So it’s no surprise that Arfa’s professional highlight of 2013 was helping secure a unique residency that will find the Piano Man returning to New York’s recently revamped Madison Square Garden for monthly concerts in 2014.

“Madison Square Garden made Billy Joel a franchise in the tradition of the New York Knicks and Rangers,” says Arfa, who started Artist Group International (AGI) in New York as QBQ Entertainment in 1986. “Billy is celebrating that by playing at the Garden once a month as long as there’s a demand. We’ve already sold out the first nine through September.”

Since 2012, AGI-booked tours by clients Rod Stewart, Rush, Linkin Park, Incubus, Yes, Def Leppard, Megadeth, Metallica, Mötley Crüe, Volbeat and Joel have collectively grossed about $170 million, according to Billboard Boxscore.

AGI was acquired two years ago by Y Entertainment Group, part of Ron Burkle’s investment firm Yucaipa. Arfa says to expect new developments at the talent agency in the next 12 months.
“Hopefully the association with [Burkle] and his resources and relationships can help enhance our business.”

With more than 40 years of experience in the music business, Arfa says his role as a booking agent is still evolving every day.

“The complexities of touring are much greater, especially deal-making—it can be much more sophisticated,” he says. “You have to be an expert in the touring business, not just the booking business.”