A pair of “punk rock kids”-turned music industry entrepreneurs are joining forces in Nashville. Artist managers Rich Egan (Hard 8) and Dirk Hemsath (Working Group) announced on Tuesday they’re merging their companies to form the Hard 8 Working Group, to house newly expanded management, publishing and label divisions.
The firm’s diverse management roster now includes Cheat Codes, Brantley Gilbert, Dashboard Confessional, Michelle Branch, Billie Eilish and R.Lum.R, among others. On the label side, the company wil continue to host Egan’s Folsom Records, which has released records by Rise Against and Face to Face, and Hemsath’s Doghouse Records, home to the All-American Rejects’ debut LP, plus a new label is forthcoming from management partner David Conway. Laura Bender will serve as general manager of both the management side and the labels.
The company also plans on launching a new publishing division. Financial details of the merger were not disclosed.
According to Egan, who co-founded the legendary emo label Vagrant Records in 1994 and sold it to BMG last year, he and Hemsath met 20 years ago, back when they were on “opposite sides of a negotiation,” adding, “It’s ironic that two punk rock kids ended up in Nashville together working with such an eclectic roster, but Dirk and I speak a common language. We do things that make sense to us and for our artists – and that isn’t a genre specific approach.”
Said Hemsath: “Inspired by our love of music, Rich and I both started labels as teenagers and grew them into successful companies that provided an outlet for artists and music that changed culture. We both went into management at different times for the same reasons: to be passionate advocates for artists’ rights, work and their business. Rich is a true artist advocate and I can’t wait for what we will do together.”
The Hard 8 Working Group will be based in Nashville, with a satellite office in Los Angeles. Artist managers Danny Rukasin, Mike Bachta, Aarron Keiser, Brandon Goodman, Sean Sheahan, Andy Stanley, Spencer Kelley, Emily Hemsath and Nick Meyers are joined by staffers Michael Schneider and Patrick Maxwell at the company. Egan, Hemsath and their staff are preparing to move into a new downtown building in early 2018, cementing their commitment to Music City.