In 2020, UK-based music booking agency Primary Talent International was sold to Los Angeles-born ICM Partners ICM Partners, which was later acquired by Creative Artists Agency in 2021 (and closed last year) as part of a $750 million deal.
Now, managing partner and CEO Matt Bates has led a transaction to buy out Primary Talent, reestablishing the company as an independent agency, and no longer affiliated with Los Angeles-headquartered talent giant CAA.
ICM’s initial deal to acquire Primary Talent came months after ICM sold a minority stake in its business to New York-based private equity firm Crestview Partners.
The 32-year-old company counts The 1975, The Cure, Lana Del Rey, Noel Gallagher, Jack Harlow, alt-J, Dropkick Murphys and Patti Smith among its clients.
The deal was spearheaded by Bates with former ICM founding partner and COO Rick Levy, who will continue to act as a senior adviser to Primary.
Primary Talent will continue to operate from London, while maintaining a presence in Los Angeles and New York.
Under the new structure, Bates will oversee all aspects of the agency and act as managing partner and CEO. Veteran agent Ben Winchester will continue to serve on the board along with Bates and Levy.
As part of the new management setup, the agency has elevated current lead 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 has 35 employees, plans to announce additional agents to its ranks in the coming weeks.
Primary Talent International’s roster includes nearly 460 clients spanning all genres. Other clients include Imanbek, Mitski, Rina Sawayama, Two Door Cinema Club, Wolf Alice and Ziggy Marley.
In 2022, Primary says its team has booked around 4,500 shows globally.
The main talent also includes the dance division Decked Out! which represents a list of 45 clients including Boys Noize, Chloé Caillet, Justice Crew, NTO, Shouse and Vitalic.
“The pandemic has changed the landscape of the music touring industry, and we felt it was beneficial to return to our roots as the UK’s largest independent music talent agency.”
Matt Bates said: “The pandemic has changed the landscape of the music touring industry, and we felt it was beneficial to return to our roots as the UK’s largest independent music talent agency.
“In addition to the strength and experience of the original primary agent team, we are excited to welcome the next generation of talented agents to join as founding partners.
“In this new incarnation, Primary will be even better positioned to support the evolution of our artists’ careers and guide them where they need it.”
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