In 2020, UK-based music booking agency Primary Talent International sold to Los Angeles-born ICM Partners, which was subsequently acquired by Creative Artists Agency in 2021 (and closed last year) in a reported $750 million deal.
Now, Managing Partner and CEO Matt Bates has led a transaction to buy Primary Talent back, re-establishing the company as an independent agency, and is no longer affiliated with Los Angeles-headquartered talent giant CAA.
ICM’s original deal to acquire Primary Talent came a few months after ICM sold a minority stake in its business to New York-based PE company Crestview Partners.
The 32-year-old company counts clients including The 1975, The Cure, Lana Del Rey, Noel Gallagher, Jack Harlow, alt-J, Dropkick Murphys, and Patti Smith.
The deal was led by Bates along with former ICM founding partner and COO Rick Levy, who will continue to act as a senior advisor to Primary.
Primary Talent will continue to operate from London, while also maintaining a presence in Los Angeles and New York City.
Under the new construct, Bates will oversee all aspects of the agency, and serve as Managing Partner and CEO. 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 elevated current 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 its ranks in the coming weeks.
Primary Talent International roster includes nearly 460 clients spanning all genres. Additional clients include Imanbek, Mitski, Rina Sawayama, Two Door Cinema Club, Wolf Alice, and Ziggy Marley.
In 2022, Primary says that its team booked approximately 4,500 shows worldwide.
Primary Talent also includes dance division Decked Out! which represents a roster of 45 clients including Boys Noize, Chloé Caillet, Justice Crew, NTO, Shouse and Vitalic.
“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.”
Matt Bates said: “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.
“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.”
Music Business Worldwide