Josh Bell’s agent walks out on IMG Artists

The daily disintegration continues.

David Lai, who took over as agent for one of IMG’s biggest earners after Elizabeth Sobol moved to Universal, has left the company of his own volition. We hear others are heading the same way.

Meanwhile, a directive is doing the rounds suggesting that agents should work at home to save headquarters costs.

Some day, this will make a good musical.

david lai

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  • It will not be long now until we find out there is no money to pay their obligations, clients money is missing, and the owners are missing. Sad for the many good employees working there…

  • Were not the seeds of IMG Artists eventual downfall sewn the moment Mark McCormack’s mammoth sports marketing enterprise took over the small Hamlen/Landau management in the mid-1980s? (Interestingly the young Joshua Bell was one of its then tiny roster of artists).

    McCormack’s vision of musicians and performers seemed to be similar to that of the athletes and sports events his company managed. Major profits generated from a relatively small group of artists and events were to be supplemented by bread and butter commissions from a much larger list. With Kiri Te Kanawa on board from the outset and Itzhak Perlman soon to follow thanks to the mini revolution at ICM Artists following the death of Sheldon Gold, more big names started to join the ship, artists like James Galway, Murray Perahia and Yevgeny Kissin. With Pavarotti firmly in the hands of Herbert Breslin and Tibor Rudas, IMGA took on board Domingo and Carreras for arena concerts in various parts of the world. Yet events like the Earls Court Arena Operas folded after a financially disastrous Tosca. McCormack famously commented, “I should never have let them talk me into doing an opera I had never heard of!” The takeover of the Orange Festival was another financial disaster in the making.

    McCormack’s boast that he would wipe the floor with Columbia Artists seemed to fuel a desire for expansion at all costs. After all, he had a plethora of offices worldwide where representatives of the artists division could be based. Yet, from the getgo he and his executives totally failed to understand that the basic business of artist representation is in reality quite different from athlete representation. The Arnold Palmers, Tiger Woods and Andre Agassis of the sports world made and make most of their countless millions annually through commercial endorsements and appearance fees rather than their actual winnings. Apart from some watch companies whose largesse is often a bunch of free watches rather than cash, no artist can generate even a tiny fraction of a sports star’s extra curricular revenues.

    For years there was gossip of friction between IMG’s sports executives with its relatively small number of staff generating mega profits whereas the number of staff required to service individual artists was far higher with far smaller returns. After McCormack’s death and the hiving off of IMGA, any synergies which had existed between sports and the arts obviously collapsed. Yet with a worldwide operation larger than any other agency costs were clearly way out of kilter compared to revenues. The financial crisis and the resulting travails of the music industry highlighted in NL’s blog can only have made IMGA’s finances significantly worse. As Has-Been’s post implies, is this another Ibbs & Tillett bankruptcy scenario in the making?

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