WMA Flies Concorde

William Morris Agency has finally named its London team, leaving other U.K. bookers wondering if it should have hired a mothballed Concorde to fly them all to the company’s Palm Springs retreat earlier in January.

Six of the new WMA staffers have previously worked for the agency named after the airplane, although none of the names on the full list will surprise the rest of London’s agents.

Everyone knew Solomon Parker (Concorde International Artistes) and Dave Levy (ITB) were on their way to WMA, and Russell Warby (The Agency Group) had also hinted that he’d join the Los Angeles-based agency.

Parker, the son of Louis Parker, Concorde’s late founder, resigned his directorship in December. Levy and Warby also both worked for the company during the late ’80s.

Also working from the new WMA offices at CentrePoint Tower are Sheraz "Shaz" Qureshi, Steve Hogan and Nick Cave, who all left Concorde in either December or early January.

Adele Slater, also from The Agency Group, and Diana Richardson from Sensible Events complete the team, which was put together and will be headed by former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell.

"I think I’ve every right to feel very flattered," was Concorde boss Louise Parker’s reaction to seeing so many of the company’s former agents and assistants appear on the new WMA U.K. team sheet.

Despite her staff being slashed by the departures of stepson Solomon, Hogan and Cave, and the earlier departure of former Concorde director Paul Fitzgerald to the Creative Entertainment Group, she remains determined to rebuild.

"It just goes to show, you don’t learn your trade with the big boys – you have to learn at grassroots to be any good at it in the long term.

"The plan is to consolidate – get the team tight together and chase the markets that the big boys can’t be bothered with.

"There will always be a market for the smaller agencies with a more caring, helpful service. We still provide gig accounting services to all our clients free of charge, and continue to do far more work for the money," she explained.

The agency has upcoming tours with Shayne Ward, X-Factor, G4, Girls Aloud, and Lemar, although the agents who booked them have since departed and will be booking the acts’ future tours through WMA.

The London office opened January 8th, but Bicknell, Parker, Hogan, Cave, Levy, Richardson and Slater weren’t due to return from a 10-day WMA orientation in Los Angeles until January 22nd.

Although WMA has followed Creative Artists Agency by opening up in London, it appears as if this expansion hasn’t been without its hiccups.

The day before the London office was to open, Bicknell, whose WMA title is worldwide head of international music, was saying "no comment" to all questions about whether he was joining the company, including erroneous stories saying he wouldn’t be joining because he’d failed to agree to terms.

WMA’s L.A. office said at the time that those stories were way wide of the mark.

Bicknell also denied telling a U.K. trade magazine that his negotiations with WMA were at "an advanced stage."

Possibly in reaction to CAA opening up with Emma Banks and Mike Greek, both formerly with Helter Skelter, Bicknell trawled the London agencies in a recruitment drive that also involved discussions with Bob Gold (Gold Artists), Free Trade chief Paul Boswell, Scott Thomas (X-Ray Touring), Dave Chumbley and Chris Hearn (Primary Talent).

At one point the company was said to be calling U.K. promoters and asking for advice on which agents to approach, which soon set the London live music gossip wires buzzing, not that it takes much.

"I had initial talks at the end of September and it’s a shame it didn’t work out because I’d have loved to work with Ed Bicknell. It would have been a great experience and Ed is a funny man who always makes me laugh," Gold told Pollstar.

At press time it wasn’t possible to get details of the WMA London office roster as Bicknell was on a flight back from the U.S., although it’s expected to include The White Stripes, Foo Fighters, The Strokes, Ryan Adams, The Thrills, Jamelia, Simon Webbe, Prodigy, Take That, Girls Aloud, Shayne Ward, All Saints, Alesha, Coolio, M People, Mica Paris, and Soul II Soul.

The new office address is CentrePoint Tower, 103 Oxford Street, London WC1A 1DD. The phone number is + 44 (0) 207 534 6800.