Business

Veteran Agents Use Profit-Sharing Model to Launch Arrival Artists

Courtesy of Paradigm

Arrival Artists staff include Karl Morse, Ali Hedrick, Ethan Berlin, Jess Bumstead, Jenna Neer, Erik Selz, John Bongiorno and Matt Yasecko

Principals Include Ali Hedrick, Erik Selz, John Bongiorno, Karl Morse and Ethan Berlin and former Billions Corp COO Matt Yasecko

The agency space realigns once again today with the formation of Arrival Artists, a new independent agency launched by five former Paradigm booking agents -- Ali Hedrick, Erik Selz, John Bongiorno, Karl Morse and Ethan Berlin -- and managed by former longtime Billions Corporation chief operating officer Matt Yasecko.

"When we all started talking together, recognizing it's a big step, I said that I wanted Matt to be involved. It's very important to me," says Hedrick, who worked with Yasecko at Billions prior to joining Paradigm in 2018. "He had a lot of great ideas like the profit sharing model that we're going to be using with all employees of the company."

Bongiorno added "it became obvious very quickly that we were going to need somebody to bottleneck all of the dynamic alpha personalities and the agenting we do to each other, through one person who would both be the voice of reason and remind us to not just think as agents but to think as business owners."

Arrival Artists is the latest project to emerge optimistic as the COVID-19 pandemic pummels the live music industry and brings major music agencies to a standstill. But the disruption to the business also provides a moment to reflect on the limitations within the current agency business and to also develop new models that could potentially bring new opportunities for the next generation of talent agents.

"There was no concerted effort to figure out who we were — it really fell together naturally, within about a month, our group took its current form." Selz says, later adding "we have constructed a model where the rising tide lifts all ships, all the way down to the entry level assistants."

The agents of Arrival Artists bring along much of their roster, including  Khruangbin, Sufjan Stevens, BADBADNOTGOOD, Mt. Joy and Nubya Garcia as well as Car Seat Headrest, Andrew Bird, Goose and Chicano Batman. So far, Arrival Artists have booked more than 100 shows during the pandemic through drive-in shows, pod concerts and other models designed to deal with social distancing and reduced capacities.

Joining the Arrival team will be agency associate Jess Bumstead, also formerly of Paradigm, and Jenna Neer formerly of AEG. Post-quarantine, Arrival plans to open offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle and is partnering with ATC Live in Europe to facilitate global representation for shared acts.

"There is a clear space in the agency ecosystem for agile, independent companies that can provide innovative worldwide solutions for artists," notes Alex Bruford, whose roster includes Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Lumineers, Mac DeMarco and Julia Jacklin.

Arrival is the third independent agency to launch during the pandemic — in September, former Paradigm agents Marshall BettsAvery McTaggartAmy DavidmanRyan Craven and Devin Landau launched TBA. Weeks later Patrick McAuliff and Phil Egenthal, along with ex-William Morris Endeavor agent C. J. Strock announced the formation of Mint Talent Agency.

Bongiorno says Arrival is formed out of a desire to operate independently and leave each founding partner's own footprint on the business.

"I think everyone in the company always worked for a boss at some point in their journey that groused 'if I was running the company, we would do this or that better' and now we're stepping into that role," he said. "When you were at a bigger company and you had other artists or other agents at the company have success, you inherently felt indifferent because it didn't affect you at all, financially speaking. Here, we're trying to create a model where when there's excitement and something happens for an artist on the roster or something happens for the company, everybody can go home that day and say, 'you know, this is going to make a difference for me.'"