In 2015, Paradigm Talent Agency acquired The Windish Agency, the booking company Tom Windish founded in 2004. The partnership brought roughly 750 Windish clients — including The 1975, Chvrches, Diplo and Flume — into the Paradigm fold. The following year, Windish jumped up Billboard’s Power 100 list (from No. 98 to No. 32) and was photographed alongside Paradigm leaders Paul Morris, Marty Diamond and the late Chip Hooper, who died of cancer less than a month after the list was released.
“Where Tom and I are kindred spirits is we view ourselves as being truly in the artist development business,” Diamond told Billboard at the time of the acquisition. “Whether that’s alt-J with Tom, or Ed Sheeran with me, or Phish and Dave Matthews Band with Chip, or Imagine Dragons with [Paradigm agent] Corrie [Christopher], and it’s the same thing with AM Only and Disclosure or Skrillex, the list goes on. We’re all in the business of building careers, really big careers.”
Since then, Windish — who currently represents clients from 23 countries worldwide — has helped crossover acts from Lorde to alt-J reach arena status, including the latter indie act’s unexpected 2015 sold out headlining set at the 20,789-capacity Madison Square Garden in New York City, which netted the band a $606,000 gross.
Most recently, the indie titan brokered Billie Eilish’s latest sold out fall tour on the heels of her debut LP When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, which crowned the Billboard 200 this April, followed by her mammoth headlining debut at Coachella, which was broadcast worldwide as part of YouTube’s Weekend One live-stream to an overall 82.9 million viewers. “Two years ago, no one knew who Billie Eilish was, and we’ve got [many] artists like that,” says Windish, who worked alongside Paradigm’s partners at U.K.’s Coda Music Agency to create a truly global approach from day one. “Her success didn’t happen overnight.”
Eilish considers Tom’s hands-on approach as crucial in her organic journey from unknown bedroom pop act to bona fide Gen Z superstar. “I respected Tom’s approach and strategy in development from the beginning: to start small and connect with every single person who came to a show,” Eilish tells Billboard. “It really helped me build a fan base through touring.”
Below, Windish recalls that Power 100 peak and his early days on the Paradigm team.
At the time of the Power 100 feature in 2016, Paradigm’s business was growing and evolving. I have a lot of respect for Chip, Marty and Paul, and I remember being on the roof for our shoot. It was the first time we all had just hung out. It wasn’t “Let’s go sit in a conference room and talk business.” I only knew Chip for a year or so then, but his death was really, really sad. In that short period of time he made such a big impression on me. I really loved the guy and looked up to him.
At Windish we had 30 music agents, but Paradigm has over 100 with lots of agents in other areas, which can help clients book deals or opportunities in film/TV. That’s a big thing that has changed. Getting an agent overseas is easier, too, with international partners like U.K.’s Coda Music Agency, who got involved with Billie Eilish so that we could have a global approach from day one. That worked really well.
These days, there are a lot of ways to measure success. With the way that music is consumed, an unknown artist can become a global phenomenon before they become a regional phenomenon — we have this Nigerian artist on tour right now, Mr Eazi, who is selling well and had a great set at Coachella. I have been a booking agent for over 25 years, and the business is going better now than it ever has.
A version of this article originally appeared in the July 20 issue of Billboard.