Power Managers Combine Forces, Create CSM Repping Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard, Jeff Lynne

Jeff Lynne
John Shearer / Invision / AP
– Jeff Lynne
Grammy Awards, Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

Several former managers from Howard Kaufman’s HK Management have united to create CSM Management, bringing clients like Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Stevie Nicks and Def Leppard.

CSM Management is a partnership of Craig Fruin, Sheryl Louis and Mike Kobayashi, whose first initials combine to form the company moniker. The three managers are all colleagues from HK Management, which Fruin told Pollstar essentially dissolved after Kaufman’s death in 2017.
“When we looked at this, we looked at it as like-minded principals and partners,” Fruin told Pollstar. “We all felt that there was a real opportunity where we could share together, not only have our individual clients, but work and build a futuristic model that would support all of our clients and any new artist that we bring into the fold.”
Fruin represents Jeff Lynne, Jeff Lynne’s ELO, and Lenny Kravitz. Louis counts Stevie Nicks and Chris Isaak as her clients and co-manages Fleetwood Mac. Kobayashi manages Def Leppard and Tesla. Fruin said the three of them bring strong combined experience in different markets, and areas like branding and licensing.
CSM is looking for new clients, Fruin said, though they want to be selective so that they can leverage all of their skills. He referenced Jeff Lynne’s ELO tour as an example of how they can build an artist into a powerhouse. 
Fruin has represented Jeff Lynne for 37 years, and the artist hadn’t toured for the first 35 of those years until he decided to get back on the road in 2016. Fruin said that was a very careful process, starting with a one-song appearance at a benefit in the U.K. Lynne enjoyed it, so they decided to book him as a headliner at BBC’s Hyde Park festival, which saw him perform in front of 50,000. 
Following that was a short European tour and five dates in North America, three nights at the Hollywood Bowl with the resident orchestra in Los Angeles and two at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Fruin said the brief outing was “just to generate demand and show everybody what this was, that it’s a modern band, that the music is very powerful and relevant today.”
They were careful not to overextend into the U.S. Fruin said, now lining up 12 dates in the country: two in New York, two in Los Angeles, and eight more in major, thoughtfully selected markets. 
Fruin said they are not being aggressive in pricing (as is the trend in other corners of the industry), placing a big priority on making tickets accessible to all fans. 
“I try to keep the prices midline. There are a lot of other frontline acts that could charge $300-350 for top-line seats. We’re not. We did a very limited VIP. We keep the prices accessible to everybody. So our scaling is very important. There’s something available for everybody and our top-end doesn’t get out of control.”
The data submitted to Pollstar definitely shows what Fruin is talking about, as his low-end tickets went for about $50 for his reported shows in 2017, but the high-end topped out at $110, definitely on the low end of what arena acts are commanding in major markets. He still reported total grosses of more than $1 million in Glasgow, Scotland, and Sheffield, England, last year. 
One thing Fruin emphasized is that it is important for artists to be able to be involved in and feel good about the product. With Lynne, for example, it was still “very important to be discussed in the same sentence as Coldplay or Adele. He sold out Wembley Stadium. He sold out four nights at The O2. We’ve been very careful to make sure that what we do respects the music and respects his legacy. … By being careful and seeding it properly, Jeff can do whatever he wants.”
“It’s creating an entire new business for him that is very exciting.” 
Lynne submitted reports for his four nights at The O2 in London in 2016, grossing a whopping $6,633,847 (£ 4,617,195 local currency). 
CSM is currently based in Nashville and will soon open a Los Angeles office in Studio City. Fruin said partnerships are currently being discussed with several major tech players and a veritable giant in the industry. 
The announcement of the new CSM came just a few days after the one-year anniversary of Kaufman’s death Jan. 19. He was a legend in the music industry, having worked with Irving Azoff (who is associated with Pollstar’s parent company, OVG) to run Front Line Management from 1974 to the early ’80, and he later worked as a special adviser to Azoff when the latter was named CEO of Ticketmaster Entertainment.