Robb McDaniels Launches Faction, Aims to Disrupt Artist Management: Exclusive

Robb McDaniels
Jay Blakesberg

Robb McDaniels photographed in San Francisco on April 2, 2012.

Faction Entertainment, a new music management business founded by former INgrooves principle Robb McDaniels, launched today with six founding manager clients led by Kevin Zinger and Ivory Daniel from Regime Management. The new company's artist roster includes Everlast, Dilated Peoples, Royce da 5' 9, Blackalicious, Madchild and Common Kings. With the tag line "Talent Management Reimagined," McDaniels tells Billboard that Faction has no less an ambition than to disrupt the business it hopes to serve which he says is filled with inefficiencies.  

"Managers are effectively the CEOs for their artists, and if they manage three artists then they're effectively the CEO of three different entities," McDaniels says. "As labels and publishers shrink and reduce the amount of resources they have for marketing, promotions, product management, brand management and so forth, a lot of that responsibility is being pushed on managers who are severely lacking in resources and tools developed specifically for them."

According to McDaniels, managers are often forced to choose between "two bad alternatives" — expanding their businesses and taking on increased fixed costs for infrastructure and staffing which allows less time to devote to the creative process of management; or joining bigger management firms like "Red Light or Artist Nation," which he claims can cost a manager 50 percent of their billing. "There needs to be a third option," McDaniels says, "and that's what we've developed with Faction."

Faction is offering managers a lower billing rate to join (they’re targeting 20-30 percent), plus an equity stake in the new company, in-house services that include digital marketing and social media, tour marketing, business operations, accounting and human resources. They’re also offering access to a host of proprietary technology tools that includes a communication and information exchange to create "factions" of individual artists' teams.

"One of the things we discovered was that managers were spending an unbelievable amount of time just cutting and pasting emails, forwarding information and trying to make sure all of the disparate pieces stayed coordinated," McDaniels says. "We're looking to our technology to pull all the business critical communication out of email and into our app so that managers can be more efficient and effective and save a couple of hours a day."

The new technology suite of products is set to launch in Q2 of this year. 

The company's other launching manager partners are Kino Childrey (The Initiative Group), Paul Stepanek (Paul Stepanek Management), Marc Friedenberg (MJF Management), Brian Ross (Elliptic Artist Management) and Anna Axster (Axster Bingham Co.) -- some of whom McDaniels worked with at INgrooves as their clients' digital distribution partner. Other managers on board have artist rosters that include Ryan Bingham, Jamestown Revival, Sick Puppies, Trevor Hall, Slaughterhouse and Poncho Sanchez.

40 Under 40: Robb McDaniels

Faction raised its initial capital from a group of angel investors, including unnamed music industry executives, Manatt Venture Fund and TechInvest. The new business is based in Los Angeles, launching with seven employees and is looking to open offices in New York and London by the end of the year. 

The new company also has "preferred partner commercial arrangements" with a number of technology and music companies, including atVenu, CO5 Music, Songspace, KillLynx, Spin Move Network, DistroKid and Westlake Recording Studios.

McDaniels launched INgrooves, a digital music distributor in 2002 and grew to digitally distribute Universal Music Group titles in 2010 and acquired Fontana Distribution in 2012. He resigned from the company in 2014 and shortly afterward began planning Faction's launch.

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