Gary James' Interview With Paradigm Agency's
They are one of the most powerful talent agencies in the entertainment business today. Just one look at their music roster and you can see why. They represent Aerosmith, The Black Eyed Peas, Huey Lewis And The News, Carole King, k.d. Lang, Ricky Scaggs, The Scissor Sisters, Brenda Lee and Joe Cocker to name a few.
Greg Janese spoke with us about the agency he works for, Paradigm Agency.
Q - I was told you're in charge of booking the classic bands. Is that correct?
A - Well, how our agency is divided up is, we have agents that are responsible for certain acts. Then we have agents that are responsible for certain specific areas in the market place. For example, we have a Casino Department where we have agents that all they do is book casinos. I oversee the Corporate Event Department. I book our entire roster specifically in the corporate event area. We have Fair and Festival agents that specifically book our acts in fairs and festivals. Then we have agents who specifically book our acts in clubs and then we have agents who work with regular concert promoters, touring concert acts. Then we have the responsible agent, the RA System, where every act has an RA.
Q - What does the RA do?
A - An RA is basically a person who is charged with... it's kind of like the immediate point of contact person for the particular act within the agency. So, for example in our agency Don Weiner is the RA for The Doobie Brothers and all things Doobie Brothers kind of funnel through Dan to The Doobie Brothers internally, OK? So, that's our RA system.
Q - It almost sounds like Paradigm was modeled after the William Morris Agency.
A - Well, William Morris and C.A.A. (Creative Artists Agency) and Paradigm are very much the same agencies. Correct. They're competitors.
Q - Have you always been an agent?
A - Actually, no. I've been with Paradigm seven years. Prior to that I was in the Corporate Event business for twenty years. I had my own company that focused on booking and producing headline entertainment for corporate events. So, I did that for twenty some odd years. Then we sold that company and I came over to Paradigm to be an agent, specifically for the Corporate market
Q - Some agencies will have everybody go through a training process which includes the mailroom. Did you have to work in the mailroom?
A - No. I just told you. I've only been there for seven years. I'm 52. I had my own company for seven years that was a corporate event production company.
Q - Understand. I thought the way talent agencies work is, no matter what your prior work experience, you start in the mailroom.
A - No. That would be like saying that everybody that works in I.B.M. has to start as a secretary. No. Sure, we have interns that are in the mailroom that work their way up, but you also hire executives away from other companies and people join Paradigm that have different backgrounds. So, that's not the case in any agency that every agent started in the mailroom.
Q - The gentleman who put together Paradigm, Sam Gores, did he have a background as an agent?
A - Sam started Paradigm. He made some strategic acquisitions of some television and film agencies and then he purchased Monterey Peninsula Artists and Little Big Man and a couple of others that were music agencies and rolled them into Paradigm. I came with Monterey Peninsula Artists.
Q - Why does an established artist need an agent? Why couldn't an act hire someone to sit behind a desk in an office and call the venues themselves? Wouldn't it be cheaper for them to do it that way?
A - No. It's no different than an actor or a sports athlete or a music act, they all need agents that are in the business everyday looking and finding deals for them. So, it wouldn't make sense for an act to just on their own try to hire somebody to go out and try to find them places to work. An agency is built on the frontlines of looking and identifying continually, 24 / 7. At Paradigm, you have Casino experts. You have Fair and Festival concentration. You're covering much more ground on behalf of our acts through our agency than anyone of our acts trying to do it on their own.
Q - In the early 1960s, Dick Clark was using the Morris office to book his Caravan Of Stars tours through the U.S. Then he hit on an idea to save money. He hired the agent away from the agency for the same weekly salary, but without that percentage cost, thereby saving him money. But you're saying that wouldn't work today.
A - In that particular situation, back then, back in the day, maybe that made sense at that point in time. In today's marketplace, it makes no sense.
Q - Because one person cannot know all of the opportunities that are available to an artist in all areas.
A - Correct.
Q - Is it true that it's getting harder to book acts that are acceptable to fairs?
A - Hard to book what acts?
Q - Rock and Pop acts that would be suitable for a fair audience. Those acts are diminishing, aren't they?
A - Well, I don't know if I would agree with that or not. There's plenty of talent for fairs to book. The issue is gonna be what talent is out there that's going to sell tickets and will drive people to fairs. There are plenty of acts to book.