Just under six months ago, the world’s hottest conductor shocked the music industry by walking away from his management agency and joining a rival firm.

Resisting appeals from Simon Rattle and others, Gustavo Dudamel followed his close friend and agent Mark Newbanks out of AskonasHolt to join former IMG chief Stephen Wright at the newly reconstituted Van Walsum Management. It was a huge coup for Wright with Newbanks, a former cellist, taking over as head of artist management and heir apparent.

That was then, this is now.

Last night, after tense discussions, Newbanks issued his notice to quit Van Walsum to set up on his own. And Dudamel, ever loyal, is following him into the unknown.

Why Newbanks had to go is unclear and both sides are keeping lips tight. But my ear to the ground picks up whispers that the sensitive manager was unhappy at the flak he was taking from old-time Van Walsum staff and artists and decided, with the Dude, that he would be better off without having to manage people had had not chosen himself.

It’s a tough call and he is going to face a difficult time establishing himself with only one artist, albeit the most desirable on earth. Dudamel is unlikely to suffer from the backlash.

Wright and Van Walsum are reeling from the defection, coming as it does close on Costa Pilavachi’s departure to head the classical division of Universal Music. But the company has moved swiftly to reshuffle its top team, with Wright taking a more hands-on role and major changes planned in the very imminent future.

So no winners, no losers? Not quite. The music business itself is the loser.

Every time a major artist like the Dude sets up independently outside the infrastructure, the business falls deeper into disintegration. Events of the past few months, reported here, reveal the old guard to be in dangerous flux. This latest move won’t help, and there’s more to come.

Just watch this space.  

Just under six months ago, the world’s hottest conductor shocked the music industry by walking away from his management agency and joining a rival firm.

Resisting appeals from Simon Rattle and others, Gustavo Dudamel followed his close friend and agent Mark Newbanks out of AskonasHolt to join former IMG chief Stephen Wright at the newly reconstituted Van Walsum Management. It was a huge coup for Wright with Newbanks, a former cellist, taking over as head of artist management and heir apparent.

That was then, this is now.

Last night, after tense discussions, Newbanks issued his notice to quit Van Walsum to set up on his own. And Dudamel, ever loyal, is following him into the unknown.

Why Newbanks had to go is unclear and both sides are keeping lips tight. But my ear to the ground picks up whispers that the sensitive manager was unhappy at the flak he was taking from old-time Van Walsum staff and artists and decided, with the Dude, that he would be better off without having to manage people had had not chosen himself.

It’s a tough call and he is going to face a difficult time establishing himself with only one artist, albeit the most desirable on earth. Dudamel is unlikely to suffer from the backlash.

Wright and Van Walsum are reeling from the defection, coming as it does close on Costa Pilavachi’s departure to head the classical division of Universal Music. But the company has moved swiftly to reshuffle its top team, with Wright taking a more hands-on role and major changes planned in the very imminent future.

So no winners, no losers? Not quite. The music business itself is the loser.

Every time a major artist like the Dude sets up independently outside the infrastructure, the business falls deeper into disintegration. Events of the past few months, reported here, reveal the old guard to be in dangerous flux. This latest move won’t help, and there’s more to come.

Just watch this space.  

As the concert world digests Gustavo Dudamel’s big career move, broken exclusively here, managers are reflecting on the covert pressures the conductor has faced since his agent and friend Mark Newbanks walked out of Askonas Holt four months ago.

During that time, Newbanks was on silent gardening leave and Holt were wheeling out the big guns of Simon Rattle and others to persuade the dude to stay with the big firm. For a young conductor to resist well-meant advice from the leaders of his profession takes a good deal of guts and self-confidence.

But that was not the only source of pressure. The Dude’s record label, Deutsche Grammophon, operates a talent agency of its own – run by defectors from IMG Artists. Over the past four months, Dudamel will have received hints and winks that his record career would be best served if he transferred his lucrative concert commissions to his record stable.

To his credit, he resisted all such blandishments and moved with a man he trusted to an agency he had probably never heard of before.

Van Walsum Management moved switfly today to capitalise on the Dudamel coup, announcing that it has signed up Kazushi Ono, chief conductor at Lyon Opera – captured from IMG Artists. Ono is becoming quite a player on European opera scene. The battle for batons is heating up nicely. Watch this space for more. 

One of the worst-kept secrets in the conducting world is out this morning with a press release confirming that Gustavo Dudamel has dumped his mentors.

Here’s the full story. Late last year, Dudamel’s agent Mark Newbanks became unsettled with his lack of personal advancement at Holt Askonas, an old-fashioned British agency, and arranged to join his former colleague Stephen Wright, who had bought out Van Walsum Management.

The pin-stripes at Holt Askonas went into damage-limitation, imposing vows of silence on all and sundry and wheeling out Dudamel’s closest advisers – led by Sir Simon Rattle – to persuade the young whizzkid to stay with the stable that launched him. The Dude, music director at the Los Angeles Phil and in demand the world over, is worth some $300,000 to his management over the next 3-4 contract years, say insiders. That’s big money in classical music, and big worries for Askonas Holt.

Rattle did his best at bending the Dude’s ear, and so did other Holt trusties, badgering the young conductor to stay put. But the Dude is a man of personal loyalties and Mark Newbanks is both close to his own age and a good buddy. This morning, Askonas Holt admitted defeat and announced ‘a significant change at the company’ with the loss of its fastes rising star.

Dudamel moves to Van Walsum from today and the Rattle shop is left licking its wounds. Askonas Holt publishes a list of ‘lengenday figures’ and ‘fantastic … young conductors’ whom it maintains under contract. But the Dude’s move is seismic, signifiying a shift in power in classical management.

Wright, who started out himself at Askonas Holt, has scores to settle with former allies and an expansion plans in mind. His new business partner is Costa Pilavachi, former head of Decca and EMI Classics. The wind of change is picking up.

 

One of the worst-kept secrets in the conducting world is out this morning with a press release confirming that Gustavo Dudamel has dumped his mentors.

Here’s the full story. Late last year, Dudamel’s agent Mark Newbanks became unsettled with his lack of personal advancement at Askonas Holt, an old-fashioned British agency, and arranged to join his former colleague Stephen Wright, who had bought out Van Walsum Management.

The pin-stripes at Holt went into damage-limitation, imposing vows of silence on all and sundry and wheeling out Dudamel’s closest advisers – led by Sir Simon Rattle – to persuade the young whizzkid to stay with the stable that launched him. The Dude, music director at the Los Angeles Phil and in demand the world over, is worth some $300,000 to his management over the next 3-4 contract years, say insiders. That’s big money in classical music, and big worries for Askonas Holt.

Rattle did his best at bending the Dude’s ear, and so did other Holt trusties, badgering the young conductor to stay put. But the Dude is a man of personal loyalties and Mark Newbanks is both close to his own age and a good buddy. This morning, Askonas Holt admitted defeat and announced ‘a significant change at the company’ with the loss of its fastes rising star.

Dudamel moves to Van Walsum from today and the Rattle shop is left licking its wounds. Askonas Holt publishes in its press release a list of ‘legendary figures’ and ‘fantastic … young conductors’ whom it maintains under contract. But the Dude’s move is seismic, signifiying a generational shift in power in classical management.

Wright, who started out himself at Askonas Holt, has scores to settle with former allies and an expansion plans in mind. His new business partner is Costa Pilavachi, former head of Decca and EMI Classics. The wind of change is picking up.