Emeryville, Calif.-based boutique booking firm the Kork Agency has merged with the Agency Group. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Kork Agency owner Christian Bernhardt and his team — Ryan Craven, Andrew Skikne, Avery McTaggart and Molly Fitzgerald — will move into the Agency Group’s Los Angeles office, effective July 1.
“After almost two years of negotiations with most major agencies, we finally came to an agreement with The Agency Group, who I believe will not only provide the Kork team with excellent resources, but also give us room to further expand our roster and open doors for our bands beyond music,” Bernhardt said in a statement.
Along with the Agency Group, Bernhardt tells Billboard.biz he had been approached by Creative Artists Agency, William Morris Agency, Paradigm and United Talent Agency.
“The first offers were for just myself to join them and basically buy me out,” he says. “With this deal with the Agency Group, the entire company — except for the Texas office — is merging. All the bands will come along.”
The acquisition of the Kork Agency gives the Agency Group a diverse roster of more than 175 artists, including Atmosphere, Peaches, the Gossip, Beirut, Aesop Rock, …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, CocoRosie, Suicide and Butthole Surfers.
The Kork Agency’s Houston-based Erik Carter — who books such acts as Deerhoof, Gravy Train!!!!, Mates Of State, Numbers, Of Montreal and Why? — will not be making the move to the Agency Group, according to Bernhardt, who says Carter will start his own firm.
Last June, Bernhardt told Billboard that competing with larger agencies had become a challenge. “Giant companies like William Morris and [Creative Artists Agency] are swimming in our pond where we fish for bands,” he said. “They didn’t used to do that. Acts that were unsigned were completely not of interest to them.”
With the merge, Bernhardt says he can focus less on the ins-and-outs of running a business and more time on booking his acts.
“Two things change: I don’t have to worry about payroll and bookkeeping,” he says. “And the other thing is that a company like [the Agency Group] offers a department for literary, speakers and film. It’s important to offer all these parts to your artist.”
German-born Bernhardt founded the Kork Agency in 2000 after moving to the United States to finish his law degree. Later, with the help of a friend in 1997, Bernhardt began booking shows for little-known noise-rock bands in Minneapolis. Since then, The Kork Agency slowly built its roster and has currently between 10 and 30 tours on the road at any given time, according to Bernhardt.
With offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Toronto and Malmö, Sweden, the Agency Group in home to more than 1,000 artists and 50 booking agents. The firm books such acts as 3 Doors Down, the Black Keys, My Chemical Romance, the White Stripes, Tegan and Sara, Feist, Papa Roach, Flogging Molly, Gym Class Heroes and Less Than Jake.