UK’s Primary Talent International Announces Surprise Split With CAA
Primary Talent International has announced a surprise decoupling with Creative Artists Agency, less than a year after CAA acquired the UK booking agency through a blockbuster $750 million purchase of its parent ICM Presents in June.
ICM Presents bought the 30-year old booking agency in March 2020, just days before international concert touring was suspended for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That acquisition — in which Primary would retain its name and office — came just months after ICM Partners sold a minority stake in the agency to private equity firm Crestview Partners.
When ICM acquired Primary Talent, ICM CEO Chris Silbermann noted that the 32-year-old company, with clients including The 1975, The Cure, Lana Del Rey, Noel Gallagher, Jack Harlow, alt-J, Dropkick Murphys and Patti Smith, “greatly enhances our ability to serve our clients on a global scale, through added resources, support and even greater opportunities,” noting the agency’s reputation for being “fiercely independent, which we love about them.”
Silbermann added: “We are honored that they believed we were the right partners to help take their clients and their agency to the next levels of success, while retaining their brand and management identity and philosophy.”
Primary Talent asked for a split from CAA in order to “re-establish Primary’s independent status,” one source tells Billboard. Shortly after closing the ICM deal last year, CAA laid off 105 ICM Presents employees from different parts of the company.
An agreement to terminate the coupling was finalized earlier this year in a deal led by Primary Talent managing partner and CEO Matt Bates along with former ICM founding partner and COO Rick Levy. Veteran agent Ben Winchester will continue to serve as a board member along with Bates and Levy.
As part of the new management configuration, the agency has promoted Primary agents Laetitia Descouens, Sally Dunstone, Martje Kremers and Ed Sellers to partner status. They will be joined by veteran agent Simon Clarkson, who will be based in Los Angeles. The agency, which currently numbers 35 employees, expects to announce additional agents to their growing ranks in the coming weeks.
“The pandemic changed the landscape of the music touring business, and we felt it was beneficial to return to our roots as the UK’s largest independent music talent agency,” said Bates. “Adding to the strength and experience of the original Primary agent team, we are excited to bring aboard the next generation of talented agents to join as founding partners. In this new incarnation, Primary will be even better positioned to support the evolving careers of our artists and guide them wherever needed.”
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