More Competition In The Agency Business

LOS ANGELES (VIP-NEWS) — As more artists turn to the road to make up lost revenue from dwindling recorded-music sales, many boutique booking agencies in the touring business are facing mounting competition for new acts and to keep existing ones.

While a handful of remaining smaller booking firms have maintained their independence, others in recent months have merged with larger agencies as a way to focus less on running a business and more on booking bands, while, in some cases, offering clients additional services. The alignments also provide agents additional protection in a fiercely competitive market, some industry observers note.

One such company is Emeryville, Calif.-based the Kork Agency (Atmosphere, Peaches, the Gossip), which the Agency Group (3 Doors Down, the White Stripes, My Chemical Romance) acquired in May. Kork founder Christian Bernhardt—who brings most of his team and nearly 175 clients to the Agency Group's Los Angeles office, effective July 1—says that part of his decision to merge was based on a changing climate in the music industry.

"With the record companies becoming more obsolete, it's important to have a bigger company that can go into areas a smaller company can't go into," Bernhardt says, adding that his 8-year-old agency had lost clients to larger competitors that offered representation in film, TV, literary and other services. "I think [mergers are] going to become a trend."

With nearly 1,000 acts on its worldwide roster, the Agency Group hopes to expand even further. “You will see this company make other acquisitions over the next period of time,” the Agency Group CEO Neil Warnock says, declining to reveal specific plans. “You either get acquired or you acquire” according to Billboard.