Believes we’re in “the age of the big boy,” and ready to reap those rewards through WME’s acquisition of sports powerhouse IMG
William Morris Endeavor’s recent acquisition of sports agency IMG boosted it ahead of rival Creative Artists Agency to become the largest in the industry. Head of music Marc Geiger should eventually reap the benefits of a more powerful firm.
Geiger leads 85-plus agents booking more than 29,000 dates from five offices worldwide for names like Bruno Mars, Nine Inch Nails, the Killers, Drake, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Barry Manilow in 2013. Those tours alone represent a combined gross of $570 million, according to Billboard Boxscore.
WME also strategically built its music roster last year, with signings like Justin Timberlake, Florence & the Machine, PSY, Foster the People and James Blake.
So Geiger is bullish on live, with good reason. “New superstars are being created, subgenres are still growing, globalization is still happening, a lot of the new technology in ticketing has not hit yet, but it’s coming,” he says. “We had a good year—a lot of people had a good year.”
Geiger saw the potential of new media before most, co-founding music e-commerce pioneer ArtistDirect in 1996. He remains a passionate and informed predictor.
“The next five years will be the age of the subscription model, and [we’re] finally going to come to the end of the era of downloading and into the era of streaming,” he says. “Corresponding changes in interface preference [and] playlisting, it cannot be understated how big that is. The tying together of everything so you have a different way to get to a consumer to let them know about stuff, including shows, right there is $100 billion in new revenue the business never saw, along with the continuation of revenue share from advertising to the music industry. Those things are massive.”
Though he’s not alone in his views of a market in deep transition, Geiger does have a unique terminology. “This is the age of the big boy,” he says. “The new big players are anybody with 500 million customers. That’s the new benchmark to me: Facebook, Google, Amazon, iTunes. It’s ironic—the big players are really the people that are innovating right now. People are looking at what they’re going to do.”