An ongoing incendiary sale of the Paradigm Fortress Music Division to Casey Wasserman has been expected for months. Today the agency said it was done. Paradigm CEO Sam Gores announced it as “a victory for all parties” and that Wasserman will take possession of the assets in the second quarter of this year. This will raise the inevitable question of what is left for Paradigm, an agency that was built into a respectable boutique, housed in the old ICM headquarters in Wilshire and fueled by money from its music touring business.
While it’s unclear when the tours will return and act like Billie Eilish, Coldplay and Ed Sheeran come out and pack the stadiums, Wasserman has had a lot of leverage to secure a deal that allows him to wait patiently as he doesn’t. There is no income with the musical artists beyond a percentage of income from live tours. Some will wonder if Gores was wrong to withdraw offers from agencies like UTA, which nearly bought him in 2019 long before the pandemic. He had no choice this time, because his brother Tom Gores was taking the reins and paying the bills. Tom Gores will be a supporter of this yet to be named spinoff agency, but Tom Gores was able to keep these music agents in place.
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The question will be what is left in Paradigm, stripped of its diamond assets. While the “win-win” described by Gores certainly covers himself and his brother, can the agency recover? It was already on the rocks after a wild 2020 in which Gores came under fire for the callous nature of a March purge of nearly 200 which at the time was called ‘temporary’ but was announced. as a perm later this fall? Even among the agents who remain, there isn’t much goodwill in the air after everything that has happened, we are told.
Paradigm isn’t the only talent agency landscape forever changed by Covid, nor by the changes in packaging and affiliated production companies that the WGA fought for and won. All the big agencies have lost rising star dealmakers who have left to form smaller management firms in the shakeout. Paradigm assures in its announcement that it will not fold its tent but is rather in “active discussions concerning strategic partners for its Talent and Literary activity”. We’ll have to wait and see what is left for the good agents who have hung on, and how viable this agency can be without the division that made it so desirable for rival percentages, and without a lot of agents who have contributed to the to build. prepandemic levels.