Voices From The Trenches: Rob Zifarelli, United Talent Agency
With more than 20 years in the business overall, Zifarelli’s roster includes Vance Joy, City and Colour, Xavier Rudd and The Cat Empire.
Can you please tell us how you got into this business called show?
Probably like many others, simply by accident! I was at the university and working toward law school when I began helping a friend’s band book their college shows. I did that with a ruler, a map, and a rotary phone. I wasn’t planning to make it a career at the time – that was 22 years ago. Funny how time flies when you love what you do.
Have you seen any significant changes in the shift from TAG to UTA?
Seismic! In a good way. We are truly and finally working toward proper teamwork, which we struggled with in the past. UTA encourages and pushes everyone to work together, and it’s exciting because we have such vast resources and so many new colleagues.
What are some ways buyers can ensure their calls get returned?
THEY SHOULD JUST CALL BACK!
“Every 10 years something comes along and knocks all the dishes off the table.” What is it, in your opinion?
The industry is moving so fast that the plates get swiped off the table every couple of years now, and we all scramble to reset it. Streaming platforms, social media, changing consumer behavior, a glut of music – they’ve all knocked the plates off the table. In the live festival business we are seeing a lot of churn with new festivals popping up and others pulling up stakes. I would say that when it’s done right, the live touring business is exceedingly healthy. With changes in the way people consume music, and all entertainment for that matter, we have to adapt to change quickly. Fortunately for us, UTA has experts across all entertainment platforms, and with that many people at the table we can guide our clients and prepare them for what’s around the corner.
If there is one thing in the business you could change, what would it be?
To give more time for young artists to develop before the pressure of the bigtime.
What is that one memorable concert, good or bad? You can name three if it gets rough.
My first. I went to see The Cult in my hometown and recall the opening band crushing my young ears. I had my fingers in them the whole time. that band turned out to be Guns ‘N Roses!
What artist that you represent should be on people’s radars?
City and Colour, simply because he is the largest band most people have never heard of, except all his fans.