With the recent launch of William Morris Electronic (WME), a joint venture between the William Morris Agency (WMA) and British DJ Pete Tong, the Los Angeles-based talent agency aims to create a "boutique agency model within the larger agency," says Joel Zimmerman, U.S. head of WME.

The goal of the new division will be to develop and represent electronic acts, while creating and programming electronic music properties. In addition to Tong and Zimmerman, WME will be overseen by WMA booking agents David Levy in London, Sam Kirby in New York and Marc Geiger in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Zimmerman, founder of New York electronic-focused booking firm Division One, says newer acts like WME client LCD Soundsystem have helped draw more attention to electronic touring. "This has made the landscape much more competitive and has raised the standards for artists, agents, buyers, labels and managers," he explains.

While WME will be keeping an eye out for new acts to sign, its primary focus will be on seeking new opportunities for its existing roster, which includes Paul van Dyk, Soulwax, Thievery Corporation, Basement Jaxx, Deadmau5, Fatboy Slim, DJ Shadow, Goldfrapp, Groove Armada and the Crystal Method, among many others.

Based in New York, Zimmerman recently spoke to Billboard about Tong's role in WME, future plans for the division, the overall landscape of electronic touring and more.

Why was William Morris Electronic rolled out a separately branded division of William Morris Agency?
It's almost like creating a boutique agency model within the larger agency. It's an easier way to come out and service the electronic community, versus being wrapped up in the big roster that a lot of people associate with William Morris. We determined there is a real business within electronic music that has been under utilized in many ways.

What does Pete Tong bring to the table?
Pete's been in the music business for the last 20 years, not just as a DJ but also as a [radio] broadcaster (BBC Radio 1) and record label executive. If you ask anyone in electronic music, especially in Europe, he's the face of electronic music.

Will he play an active role in signing acts to WME?
I don't think going out and actively trying to build the roster is exactly what he'll do, but he can give us foresight as to what kind of artists we should be signing. He's also a big DJ that plays every weekend, which gives him the understanding from an artist's perspective. Pete can have a substantive conversation with an artist and also participate and contribute in a boardroom full of executives. He is the perfect figurehead for what we are doing.

WME will compete with such electronic-heavy boutique agencies as AM Only and the Windish Agency. How active will you be in signing new acts?
The key thing isn't to sign, sign, sign. It's to produce, produce, produce. The artists that are with us need to feel the attention and see the growth. We have a lot of established artists and some developing artists that we believe in. We want to make them as established as our big guys, so we're coming up with innovative ideas to program festivals and be smarter about how the artists are put out there.

Will WME be aggressive in creating new live music properties?
We've got a strong enough roster to where we can go to a venue and say, "Look, we want to put together a miniature festival lineup with you." We've got enough talent to fill a 15,000-capacity room. There are promoters looking to create new events. I can't say who those people are, because it will unveil what we're working on. In basic form, we're going to event organizers and seeing if there are opportunities to create new events with them.

You share the same name with WME client Joel Zimmerman, who performs as Deadmau5. Does that ever cause confusion?
It’s pretty crazy. I get a lot of e-mail from promoters thinking that they’re talking to Deadmau5, and they’re watching what they’re saying, because they’re afraid they won’t get the gig.

Where does electronic touring fit into the overall concert business?
Electronic music is very strong and just experienced a significant boom, which brought to the surface a new generation of credible artists. This has made the landscape much more competitive and has raised the standards for artists, agents, buyers, labels, and managers. Compared to the overall touring business, it has a dynamic that many areas do not with regard to volume. Many electronic acts never stop touring. Album cycles play less of a role.

What role have newer acts like LCD Soundsytem and Justice played in bringing attention to electronic touring?
New acts like LCD and Justice created a revival and allowed a magnifying glass to go over an already-established but limited scene and sector in the electronic world. With the success of these acts and some that followed ... electronic music came back in a big way.

Last year, Tiesto and Daft Punk played U.S. arenas. What does it take for electronic acts to play larger venues? Are there growing opportunities in this space?
It is determined by the fans and the live experience. Over the years, Tiesto has been really smart about treating his fans well, and he also brings something interesting to his live DJ shows. He has kept a close tab on his core fanbase and has cultivated it unlike many in the electronic space. As a result, a snowball effect has happened, and he has capitalized on it. In terms of the North American market, Tiesto also has toured the market consistently, and many artists that would be considered headline electronic acts have not.

Daft Punk is also an interesting case. The timing could not have been any better with French electro-house being the en-vogue sound. They also had the hits and the mystery surrounding their show and identity, which allowed for both old electronic and new electronic fans to share a rewarding experience together. They nailed it in terms of strategy and picking their timing.

In general, it's a case-by-case thing, like any other touring artist. Yes, there will be other arena acts in the electronic space. Tiesto and Daft Punk have paved the way for this to be more accepted and taken seriously.

Are there any regions in North America where live electronic music doesn't work particularly well?
The only places that tend to have a little trouble finding the right place to book an act is in the Great Plains. It probably has to do with population. I don't think is has anything to do with interest.

Is there a large revenue stream for established artists who also perform DJ gigs on the side?
It's a great way for a touring act to stay relevant and to continue making money between album cycles. The DJ component though needs to be treated as seriously as the live act nowadays, otherwise it can create a disservice.

How do touring costs for electronic acts compare to other artists?
There are fewer expenses associated with electronic artists if they’re not a live act. If you’re a live electronic act, you potentially have as much or more expenses. Booka Shade is a two-piece, but has seven people traveling with them. And they have tons of equipment, so it ends up being a pretty expensive show. The DJ model is great, because they just have their records. They just get on the flights and go to the gigs.

Do European electronic artists view North America as a potential investment for their touring career?
It's close-minded for an artist to say, "I can make more money staying in Europe." There are a lot more touring markets in North America. The dollar is weak right now, but if it ever turns around, you'd be a fool to neglect it, especially if you want to treat your career with care. Being big in North America means something to your global reach. If you neglect it completely, you're crushing yourself in the foot.

Does the association of drug use at electronic music events stigmatize the electronic touring space?
Drug use at live entertainment events remains a reality, and it always will. The people producing events and taking the responsibility for the live electronic experience have become considerably more responsible over the years. The nightclub aspect to electronic music will always have to battle this stigma, as some feel it will forever be embedded in the clubbing experience and life style.

Now, however, you can see an electronic show at a live venue, which is over by 11 p.m. The music has not changed, but the variety of places where you can experience it has.