Jim Osborne On The APA’s Evolution To An Independent Artist Group

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Jim Osborne It is a product of the mail room. Senior talent representative elected CEO of the newly baptized Independent Artist Groupstarted the representation area the old-fashioned way—by exiting the ICM mailroom and pool of assistants.

Osborne spent the last dozen years APArising as partner in 2015 and president in 2020. APA is rising to the top spot today as the power of Dennis Arfa’s music tour merges with Artist Group International into a new entity. The deal includes superstars such as Billy Joel, Metallica, Smashing Pumpkins, Linkin Park and the Strokes, and includes in part investor Ron Burkle and Yucaipa Co. (which owns Artist Intl. and invested in APA in 2020). Edited by. . .

RELATING TO: APA, Touring Powerhouse Artist Group Intl. Merged with and Rebranded as Independent Artist Group

Osborne takes the baton from longtime APA leader Jim Gosnell, who will now serve as one of the agency’s three board members, along with Osborne and Arfa. Leading a decade center in Hollywood, with the continued writers’ strike and possibly SAG-AFTRA to follow, the layoffs that have hit many of the major media giants, and general unrest over the disruption caused by the industry’s shift from linear to linear TV It’s a worrying time for you. on-demand streaming platforms.

As Osborne sits in the CEO chair, Variation The expanding agency’s vision is about what it’s telling its writer clients these days, why Hollywood was emboldened by post-pandemic competitiveness, and the important lessons it learned (and salvaged) from working at the writer’s desk. the legendary Ed Limato.

APA has been in business with Ron Burkle for some time now. Artist Group Intl. What was the origin of this partnership with?

An introduction to the AGI team was probably made a year and a half ago. And we flew to New York and met them. At first, they were very hesitant, frankly, as they didn’t have a partnership with an agency in the content space. And they were truly at the top of the game. They are the largest independent tour agency. Over time, we started to build a relationship based on common goals. We started working with them on a number of clients. And they should see how we work, so to speak, through trust and shared destiny, and because we are in the trenches together. We’ve built a really strong relationship, and that relationship has grown and grown. We were already working with some clients who were on the content side: Jane’s Addiction, Perry Farrell, Billy Joel. So it started to come naturally and not necessarily, which is the key to any agency getting together the right way. We were already working together in a very collegiate way.

Can you give me a time frame for when you start getting serious about bringing companies together?

Second ICM removed from agency landscape [by the sale to CAA in 2022] it was so obvious to us that someone else was needed to show up. And it was a perfect match for our scale-up because [AGI] There was no content side. We didn’t have the stadium actions they represented. And so, from the second that happened, we began to understand how to act. How do we take advantage of it and fill in something we’ve always thought about, but the way has become very clear. And again, we’re not done yet. This is one step in many steps.

How does your agency compete in the land of giants? How does this deal make the APA more competitive?

For us, it’s just a very hands-on job. And I think it’s that kind of old-school client-artist relationship – a lot of artists are responding to that. And that is what is needed in this kind of environment. So there are other areas for us that we’re not involved in, where other agencies are stepping up and growing their overall portfolios. So this is always a possibility. But for us it’s a great mix of the two companies. And as you know, we recruited 17 new representatives in many departments last year. [after] ICM was purchased. We have done this on our own and will continue to grow in areas that support other divisions. So there is definitely a need, and if you look at our client list, we have been extremely hardworking and successful with a number of artists from other agencies.

What is your elevator pitch to potential new customers?

Now more than ever, the whole world is a screen, right? You can live in many different places and this is essential to sustaining your brand. And what we’re really good at is brand extension. So, taking someone with great visibility in an area and making money out of it by developing other sides of that artist. I mean, Mary J. Blige just got a mega hit on Lifetime, and we got one of her songs here. [“Real Love”] as part of an IP and created a Lifetime movie from it. We are really good at brand extension and work with artists to grow their own companies. Sometimes this kind of work can get lost [for clients] because it takes a lot of work.

The Mary J. Blige project is an interesting example of entertainment ideas coming from unconventional channels.

These artists are brands at their core, and they have a portable audience, right? The network or movie studio is just a transitional asset for their creativity. It can live in more than one place. And that’s the kind of thing we really care about and build. And that’s actually very satisfying for us. Gary Oldman said to me, ‘You’re enjoying this so much you must be sick.

How do you navigate through all these changes in the middle of the writer’s strike? How are you dealing with the level of chaos in the business world right now?

He is very careful and measured and takes the necessary steps. But oddly enough, sometimes there’s a certain amount of luck because we started so long ago, trying to woo and find a way with the big partners at AGI. They’ll be a great addition to us as we get through a writer’s strike. They are in full swing with big big tours. Great timing for anyone going through tough times. But I am always optimistic. I think we will get through this and be stronger than ever in terms of production and required output from all networks and studios.

How big will the agency be in terms of agency numbers after this agreement? Will we still be neighbors in West Los Angeles or are you planning to move offices?

forks. We will still be neighbors and AGI will move to our New York office. We will probably be 325-340 people. What matters is not just the size of this agreement, but the impact it has on who we represent.

What are you telling your writer clients right now? And what are you hearing from your writer clients right now in week 8 of the WGA strike??

We fully support them. These are very, very serious problems. Same as SAG-AFTRA. Fair remuneration should be made for these artists as creators who can go on for decades. They need to be connected to it. That’s why we fully support them and we must get through this together.

Are you seeing an increase in interest in non-scripted content?

Yes, we are also working hard to upgrade as many seats as possible in that arena so that our customers definitely benefit from the increased buying appetite. When you see audience patterns start to change based on the availability of content, and that creates a change. It just is.

Jim, were you one of those people who said to yourself, “I’m going to be the CEO of a talent agency” when you were younger? What was your path to becoming a CEO?

I started in the mail room at ICM. i was desperate Works at Ed Limato I was Ed’s third assistant, second assistant, first assistant. I just wanted to survive. And I had the greatest mentor and friend. It was challenging but he always had your back and was the biggest influence I’ve had in my career. Oddly enough, all of Ed’s former assistants prepare a dinner for him every year. We all get together and have a meal and talk about Ed. The list is pretty extensive.

IAG CEO Jim Osborne is the custodian of the late Ed Limato’s white shoes.

I was very lucky to create such a family in the agency world. And I still talk to those guys every week. It influences my decision on many issues. [APA chairman] Jim Gosnell has been an incredible mentor who gave me a great opportunity here and encouraged me to grow. But I was very lucky. Starting to work with Ed Limato has been truly transformative, both personally and professionally.

So my question is, are you all wearing silk pajamas for dinner or is there a designated pajama rep?

Osborne: You won’t believe it. I have his white shoes. i have white shoes [Limato] She wore it in a Vanity Fair article. They made a big picture of him in a white suit. Nobody has silk pajamas. But I have white shoes.

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