Toby Keith

Toby Keith speaks during the Songwriters Hall Of Fame 46th Annual Induction And Awards at Marriott Marquis Hotel on June 18, 2015 in New York City.

Taylor Hill/WireImage

Nashville agent Curt Motley has joined United Talent Agency’s Nashville office. Motley will bring his clients to the new shop, including Toby Keith.
Motley most recently was co-head of Paradigm Talent’s Nashille office, where he represented Keith, Jamey Johnson, Mac McAnally, Ashley Campbell, Kim Campbell, Krystal Keith, JT Hodges, Ned LeDoux, Waterloo Revival, Western Underground, Erik Dylan, Walker McGuire, Chris Bandi, and Scotty Emerick. All will make the move to UTA. Also making the jump from Paradigm to UTA is former Paradigm agent Brendan Rich.

Motley tells Billboard that, after 21 years at Paradigm (20 as Keith’s agent) “I never even looked around” concerning joining another agency. “Then I got a text from Jeremy Zimmer,” he says. “To be honest, I didn’t even know who he was. But I soon found out who Jeremy Zimmer was, and from the moment we first spoke, until I met with him in his office, I saw a common UTA DNA that runs through every person in that Beverly Hills office. You can tell where it comes from, and it’s real."

This is the latest in a series of landscape-changing developments for Nashville's agency scene, this move teams Motley with UTA’s Nick Meinema and Lance Roberts, who oversee the firm’s Nashville operation. UTA gained a presence in Nashville last year as part of its acquisition of The Agency Group, forming UTA Music. The Agency Group had earlier boosted its Nashville presence in 2014 when it acquired the Bobby Roberts Agency (Merle Haggard, John Anderson, Chris Janson, Marty Stuart). The addition of Motley, well-respected in the city, to UTA's team will make some noise in Nashville and the wider country music agency world, which has been dominated by William Morris Endeavor Entertainment and Creative Artists Agency. Motley’s departure is also a blow to Paradigm Nashville, where Keith, one of the most consistently successful arena-level touring artists in country music, was the flagship client.

“There’s a lot more opportunity here [in Nashville] than there’s ever been, and a lot of opportunities we’ll be able to take advantage of,” Motley says, adding that he’s been getting supportive texts from other agents and “big-ass promoters,” saying, “boom, this is what the town needs."
Motley points out that such migration of clients and agents was once much more common in Nashville. "You remember, in the early ‘90s, come September, artists jumped around all the time, there was this big migration back and forth,” Motley says. "Then toward the late ‘90s, it just quit, everybody got paralyzed. You just wanted to make sure somebody put [clients] on one of 15 tours, there’s not a lot of innovation or creativity, everybody just wanted to get covered. I believe we’re going to be able to navigate and do things a little differently."

“Curt Motley has been a veritable force in the music business for more than 25 years,” says UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer in a statement. Meinema adds that Motley’s addition, “comes at an exciting time, as the Nashville office of UTA Music has more than doubled in size in the last two years, with a plan to keep growing.”
Motley began his career in 1990 at TKO Artist Management (led by Keith manager T.K. Kimbrell), and operated his own agency As The World Tours before joining Monterey Peninsula Artists in 1995 (Monterey was acquired by Paradigm in 2005).
With offices in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville, London, Toronto, Miami and Malmo, and Sweden. UTA is a global talent and literary agency representing clients in including motion pictures, television, music, digital, broadcast news, books, theatre, video games, fine art, and live entertainment. The agency is also active in film finance, film packaging, branding, licensing, endorsements and representation of production talent, and also provides corporate consulting, venture funding and strategic advisory services to companies ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.