The New Paradigm

The booking agency world now has a new Paradigm and a new superpower with the formal folding into the agency of the storied Monterey Pensinsula Artists and Little Big Man Booking names.

As of August 13th, all of the company’s offices will function under the Paradigm banner. The move formally brings together two of the most impressive client rosters in the industry with Monterey’s list of acts like Aerosmith, DMB, and the Black Eyed Peas now joining with LBM’s list, which includes Coldplay, Avril Lavigne, and Barenaked Ladies.

Other than the name change, few in the industry will notice much of a difference in how the company operates. And that’s by design. Paradigm chairman Sam Gores, who purchased the two agencies within the last three years to add a music wing to his existing television and literary agency, has no intention of trying to fix what isn’t broken.

Paradigm’s West Coast booking office, comprising the Monterey agency, will remain in the central California coastal city where Fred Bohlander and Dan Weiner set up shop and maintain its roster. LBM will do the same on the East Coast, albeit from a new office in New York City. The Nashville office of MPA will continue with the Paradigm name and business as usual.

Bohlander and Weiner are on board, and will continue working with their clients. Chip Hooper officially heads up Paradigm’s West Coast music operations. LBM’s Marty Diamond and Larry Webman will operate the East Coast office much as they have always done.

"Chip Hooper and Jonathan Levine have their fingers on the pulse of everything that’s going on in Monterey," Gores told Pollstar. "Fred Bohlander has been overseeing things in Nashville with the group there. Marty Diamond and Larry Webman seem very comfortable as a duo overseeing everything going on in New York. That’s the only place where there might be a slight change."

Gores revealed that with the addition of a music agency, Paradigm has four separate offices in the Big Apple – and all will soon be under one roof, occupying a full floor of NYC real estate.

"We’re probably going to have the largest presence of any agency in New York now," Gores said. "It doesn’t often feel like that’s where the core or the heart of the business is. So we will now have a very substantial presence in New York, together."

The new office will open August 27th and is located at 360 Park Ave. South, 16th Floor, New York, NY 10010. The phone number will be 212-897-6400 and fax is 212- 764-8941.

Before pursuing music representation, Paradigm cut its teeth as a literary, stage and television agency. Crossover opportunities for music clients are increasing as everything gets merged under one roof. Gores said a couple of projects are already in the works, though he said it was premature to identify the artists involved.

However, one project came to light that has been made possible through the efforts of the Paradigm team: an upcoming collaboration between ex-Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and bluegrass virtuoso Alison Krauss. The unlikely pair have recorded an album with producer T-Bone Burnett that is expected to drop in October, with a tour to follow.

"The interesting thing is there is no way that you can be told this concept and have any idea that you know what it sounds like until you hear it," Weiner told Pollstar. "It’s so much beyond just being Robert or just being Alison. It’s another place. T-Bone did a terrific job and it’s phenomenal."

Without going into specific marketing techniques, Weiner used the project to test the water as an example of how the Paradigm integration can work.

"It’s going to be one of those projects where there are genuine collaborations that can help a client in other areas of the entertainment business, especially as it’s emerging with music, TV and interactive," Weiner said.

"This is the first time I’ve ever asked Paradigm on a full level, ‘What can you do?’ I’m absolutely thrilled and amazed at what a complete job they’ve done of putting a plan together for what they’re going to do to make this tour and this album a success.

"When you make a deal with someone, you don’t know how it’s going to be; you only know what they say and what you want to believe," Weiner explained. "It’s really great now that we’re in business together that they really deliver."

There are differences in the way the East and West Coast staffs have done business over the years, but the idea is to retain the individual characteristics of the once-separate companies even as they integrate.

"The key thing about the whole process for us is obviously we look at things very similar to the way folks in Monterey operate and how they do things," Webman told Pollstar. "In combining our companies, nobody wanted to change the culture in the way each company operates.

"Both companies are very successful in their own right. I think we’ve figured out a way to do that while keeping each company’s spirit and yet being able to be as one and work together."

Diamond concurred, noting that one difference – booking territorially versus booking by artist – will continue on a national scale.

"We’re already starting to work together on things. We actually work differently than they do in terms of actual style of booking. We’re not changing that. The creative spirit is a big part of this," Diamond told Pollstar.

"There will be an East Coast and West Coast roster, and Nashville. If someone calls Jonathan Levine to book a Dido date, he’s going to say, ‘Call Marty in New York.’ He’s not going to be tendering an offer; he’s not going to be soliciting an offer.

"In the same way, if someone called and said, ‘Hey Marty, I want to talk to you about O.A.R.,’ I would just say, ‘You gotta call Chip.’ That will still be happening. We act as non-territorial bookers."

Hooper reiterated that the offices will continue to function as they always have.

"Little Big Man agents are going to continue to work the way they do, and the Monterey Peninsula Artists agents are going to do the same. Structurally, nothing’s going to change."

With the retirement of the agencies’ names, there’s surprisingly little nostalgia among the principals – who are far more interested in looking forward.

"If we weren’t excited about it we wouldn’t have done it," Hooper told Pollstar. "In my mind, we’re changing a name, and what’s in a name? It’s a special name but all it does is serve as an umbrella we all sit underneath. Nothing’s changed in terms of the people who are here. I’m definitely more excited about the future than I am sad about the name."

"And we really like these people we’ve gone into business with. We’re closing in on three years and it’s been a real positive experience so far."

Levine is equally pragmatic about the end of the Monterey Peninsula name.

"None of this would have taken place originally, in our case almost three years ago, if we weren’t excited and so positive about this. The reality is: The name Monterey Peninsula Artists, which has always been a name that has been associated with quality and total credibility, is also what Paradigm has stood for with Sam Gores, which is why we did this.

"It’s a name that means a lot, especially for people like Chip who has worked here for 20 years, and to Dan and Fred who started the company 30-plus years ago. It’s a name that everybody who’s worked here has tremendous pride in. "But the only thing that is changing is the name. We are not changing the way we represent our clients. If anything, we’re all being given more tools and a better platform to do what we do on a better and more comprehensive level."