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 Betts, Avery McTaggart, Amy Davidman, Ryan 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.'"