Exclusive: Deep cuts at IMG Artists

Exclusive: Deep cuts at IMG Artists


norman lebrecht

June 25, 2020

Half of the staff at IMG’s New York office have received notice of dismissal, we hear.

That’s 15 out of 29 employees.

UPDATE: IMG tell us the number is fewer, albeit severe. Two booking agents and one manager were dismissed a few days back. Today six associates were either given notice or placed on furlough. So that’ll be 9 out of 29, and counting.

The agents affected are reeling with shock, too dazed to return our calls.

IMG’s aim to be a major player in classical music lies in ashes, at least on the US scene.

co-owners Shustorovich and Wissman



  • V.Lind says:

    Pity about the jobs, but I will shed no tears for IMG.

  • Agent2020 says:

    I’m sure there are more companies who are being silent about their dismissals too…what will the managing world look after this is over?

    • buxtehude says:

      I wonder how fares that ex-husband of darling Barbara Bonney, Maurice Whitaker wasn’t it? IMG . . .

  • john says:

    well, there are agencies hiring right now as well https://www.tact4art.com/article/111

  • sistinechapel says:

    Let’s be clear about what being furloughed means in this case because furloughing is really only a thing in Europe. It means being told to go on unemployment with no actual promise or intention of being rehired. So I don’t who told you Norman that these people were being furloughed, but it basically is the same thing as being fired. 9 people have been fired. Not furloughed. With no cash flow for this agency as well as many others, we should more major layoffs with the futures of agencies like IMG, CAMI, Opus, and Askonas totally uncertain.

    • Agent2020 says:

      I personally know of two agencies that have had to lay off their agents and severely reduce roster sizes, and both are in Europe. These agents won’t be hired back or at least it’s 1% chance at this point.

      Those young musicians are going to have to think creatively going forwards…

      • Jeffrey Biegel says:

        Not only young musicians, but established as well. In the real estate world, if you don’t list your home with a broker who is also a selling agent or has a selling agent to do the task (exclusively or on MLS Multiple Listing Service), you do it yourself. That’s a ‘FSBO’- For Sale By Owner. Same applies to the music industry. Before computers and the internet, we had managers and sent out press kits (not cheap either). In addition, I did something way-out-the-box and went through the annual Musical America tome each year in the beginning of my career and cold called conductors if they were listed in the phone directory. Anyone remember (area code) 555-1212?? Out of the hundred + conductors I called, maybe one did not like to be called at home (so why be listed in the phone book????) and we never worked together. But the other 99+ conductors became friends over time, and many brought their orchestras into the commissioning projects I created spanning twenty years with a dozen or so composers. Point of the story is, musicians who relied on management for work might need to pound the pavement and find unique ways to share what they love, what they do and uniquely have to offer. As the industry slowly rebuilds, we hope, fees will not be sky high for even a select few. We will all have to work together to make for a strong future. We’ll come back slowly and end up stronger than ever for the right reasons.

    • Lisa says:

      Furlough is not the same as being fired. I’ve been furloughed and I’m now back at work, as are many colleagues.

    • Helmut Fischer Artists says:

      I’d recommend getting your facts right. Furloughed in Europe is certainly NOT the same as being fired. Schemes will differ from country to country, but here in Austria I’m still paying my furloughed employee full wages and social security and I will be reimbursed 75% by the government.

      OBVIOUSLY I would not pay 25 % out of my own pocket if I didn’t firmly intend to take her her back ASAP. These 25% are my commitment which hopefully signal to her that she need not look for employment elsewhere since she is an invaluable asset to me.

      This scheme is obviously very costly to taxpayers and employers, but it’s a clever way to save as many jobs as possible during a crisis.

  • IntBaritone says:

    Not surprising. Assume the artists will just be shuffled around.

    The fact is, folks, no work for artists = no pay for managers. That can only go on for so long before something breaks.

    The management industry is already pretty crummy as a business, and IMG is not anywhere near what it once was. At major agencies like that, other divisions usually pay for the expenses of the classical music industry division – it’s just not profitable anymore to be in classical music.

    So while I am sad for my colleagues that have lost work, this industry had to change at some point. Maybe we’ll come back better? I hope so…but I doubt it.

  • What a lousy blow to agents, artists and future agents. the biz will never be the same.

  • Kolb Slaw says:

    Agents are not musicians.

    • D says:

      Actually, most classical music agents are in fact musicians by training or by avocation. Many went to major conservatories, and many of them still play or sing in amateur/community ensembles. No one is getting rich in the agenting business, so a deep passion for music is essentially a prerequisite–otherwise it’s a thankless job.

  • For all of us agents the situation is dire. In a way it is WORSE than for our artists (which is saying something!)

    We work years in advance for the contracts that now all vanish into thin air and we don’t see a penny (unless we get a cut from the occasional compensation) for the services rendered.

    In spite of not being paid I still work full time, trying to turn the chaos into order, fight for compensation payments, constantly exchange information and discuss strategies with colleagues from other agencies, deal with postponements of future productions, and so on.

    I am one of the lucky ones however: I only have two people on the payroll and one is on furlough (for the time being only) and thanks to these rather modest expenses and my private savings I can „survive“ this for another two years if necessary. It must be a nightmare for big companies like IMG that are absolutely dependent on a certain minimum turnover, and my heart goes out to everybody who has lost their job.

    Of course the situation for my artsits isn’t any less bleak.

    My fantastic 26yo mezzo BETH TAYLOR instead of singing title and lead roles at Oper Frankfurt & Erl (Bianca e Falliero), Dijon and Nancy (Bradamante), Helsinki and Beaune has been working as cleaner in a Glasgowian hospital since March (55 hours per week).

    Here a „recital“ she gave for patients after an 11 hour shift:

    I hope she’ll make her Deutsche Oper Berlin debut (La Gioconda) and La Monnaie Brussels (Quickly in Falstaff) this fall.

    And Michael Spyres is doing landscaping work

    No wonder that hundreds of millions wordwide whose livelihoods is being destroyed hope that this nightmare will end before long and people will finally snap out of their understandable collective panic.

  • Freddynyc says:

    Are these agencies really necessary in a post- Covid society when you have YouTube, Facebook, Zoom……

  • lawrence says:

    and, why not? it’s not like these agents can find us any jobs at the moment! mine seems to be MIA, and i can’t blame her!