US touring leaders APA and AGI form new mega agency

Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Leading North American entertainment groups Agency for the Performing Arts (APA) and Artist Group International (AGI) have merged to form a new full-service agency, Independent Artist Group (IAG).

Under the terms of the merger, Jim Osborne, president of APA, becomes IAG’s chief executive, with Dennis Arfa, founder of touring agency AGI, becoming chairman of IAG’s music division.

AGI’s roster of major touring artists includes Metallica, Rod Stewart and Linkin Park, while APA’s urban and comedy clients range from 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige to Cypress Hill and stand-up star Martin Lawrence.

Over the past year, AGI and APA worked together on several clients in the crossover space including Billy Joel, Daryl Hall, Perry Farrell, GHOST and Billy Corgan.

“This was the natural next step in our evolution and made in the best interests of our valued artists,” Arfa said in a statement. “We have admired how Jim Osborne and their colleagues have been market leaders in creating brand expanding, non-touring revenue opportunities for their clients and we are excited to build on that success with them and look forward to integrating under the Independent Artist Group banner.”

The merger comes during a period of consolation in the US live music market. Last year, CAA closed its $750m acquisition of rival Hollywood talent agency ICM Partners.

The merger occurs with Yucaipa Entertainment, owned by billionaire Ron Burkle, as the conduit. Burkle bought AGI in 2012 and has been financing APA since 2020.

The board of IAG will consist of Osborne, Arfa and former longtime APA chief executive Jim Gosnell, who will now spearhead vertical growth opportunities for the new company.

Osborne added: “Dennis Arfa and his exceptional colleagues at AGI are revered in the industry, having built a spectacular artist roster and a sterling reputation. The great news is we have already established a tremendous working relationship with them through shared representation on some of their most valued artists.

“This new partnership with AGI and our rebrand to Independent Artist Group is another major step that elevates us within the agency landscape…and we are not done yet!”