X-Ray Shows A Different Picture

While the London agency business gets washed over by the first and second waves of the U.S. corporate invasion, X-Ray Touring agents have celebrated their second year of independence by moving into bigger offices.

In January 2005, Ian Huffam, Jeff Craft and Steve Strange (from Sanctuary-owned Helter Skelter) and Martin Horne and Scott Thomas (from Live Nation-owned ITB) swam against the corporate tide by setting up their own company.

Like John Giddings (Solo Agency), who opted not to renew his Live Nation contract a year ago, they left companies owned by stock-listed parents and then quickly took their new, privately owned businesses to the top of the U.K. agency ladder.

Giddings, with a roster that includes The Rolling Stones, Madonna and U2, has always been there, whether flying solo or hooked up with SFX, Clear Channel or Live Nation.

But X-Ray – even without such historic and internationally guaranteed stadium fillers – has helped ensure that independently owned U.K. agencies are currently out-performing the corporates.

It’s easy to see why X-Ray’s thriving. The five agents’ collective roster includes Robbie Williams, Green Day, Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Moby, The Pixies, John Legend, the Black Eyed Peas, Eminem, Embrace, Linkin Park, Busta Rhymes, Cypress Hill, New Order, Primal Scream, Manic Street Preachers, Coheed & Cambria, Hard-Fi, The All-American Rejects, The Black Crowes, and The Good, The Bad And The Queen – the new "supergroup" founded by Damon Albarn of Blur.

"We tend not to focus on what other agencies are doing. We had our own plan and that was to consolidate for a couple of years and then look to start expanding in the third year," was as close as Huffam came to commenting on Creative Artists Agency and William Morris Agency opening up in London.

X-Ray’s birth and growth has been at the main expense of the Sanctuary-owned Helter Skelter, which has also been hit hard by Emma Banks and Mike Greek leaving to set up CAA’s London office in Hammersmith.

They’ve since been joined by Paul Wilson, a former Wasted Talent agent who moved on to spend 17 years managing Maria Mckee. He quit Bob Gold’s Gold Artists in December, taking The Guillemots with him.

Helter Skelter got hit again when Mel Young – a dance agent who reps Gallows, The Audition, The Scare, and You Say Party! We Say Die! – left to join X-Ray just as the company moved into its new offices in Great Eastern Street – a 10-minute walk from Liverpool St. station.

Amy Thomson, another dance agent who books Groove Armada and Steve Angello, became part of X-Ray’s expansion by bringing her own business under the company umbrella in October.

X-Ray Touring is now at Suite A, Nena House, 77 – 79 Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3HU. Tel: + 44 (0)20 7749 3500. Fax: +44 (0)20 7749 3501.