Bruce Solar has quietly been leading growth in APA’s music department since being named Executive VP of Global Touring three years ago, and now the longtime agent has been named a partner and promoted to co-head of Worldwide Music, APA President/CEO Jim Gosnell announced today.
Solar now oversees the West Coast operations for APA’s Concerts division alongside fellow Co-Head of Worldwide Music, Steve Martin, who is headquartered in New York.
“Bruce is one of the most talented and respected music agents in the industry,” Gosnell said in making the announcement. “His leadership, insights and contributions to the success of our Concerts division have made a tremendous impact on our business, and I could not be more pleased to have him lead our west coast team.”
Solar, whose current roster includes Radical Face, EELS, Family of the Year, Blondie, Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, The Zombies, Cake, The O’Jays, and Liz Brasher among others, began his career in the music industry at the Harry Chickles Agency in Boston, booking numerous acts including John Lee Hooker and Willie Dixon.
In the mid-’90s, he moved to Absolute Artists, where he oversaw operations for the very successful boutique agency representing numerous legendary artists. In 2001, Solar joined The Agency Group where he spent the next 14 years representing a diverse group of international artists.
Solar spoke exclusively with Pollstar about the new phase in his career, and APA’s growth and focus in the last few years as well as the agency’s goals going forward.
“What we’re trying to do here is not have people like myself, Steve Martin and Andy Somers be the focus of rebuilding,” Solar told Pollstar. “ We’re really trying to rebuild with younger agents, also. We’ve brought in some really good young agents in-house because, at the end of the day, that’s the future.
“They’re bringing in hip-hop, electronic, alternative rock and all have been really growing with the addition of these younger agents. In about five years, you’re going to be hearing more about them than you do about us.”
The youthful focus does not mean that APA won’t continue bringing on experienced agents who are available, however. In the last five years the agency has brought, in addition to Solar, agents Martin and Somers (all formerly of The Agency Group), Steve Ferguson and Andrew Ellis (both formerly of Paradigm Talent Agency), among others.
“If a great agent is available out there, we’ll bring them in here. But we also don’t want to lose sight of the fact that young people we brought in five years ago are now superstars of the industry,” Solar explained.
While there’s been something of a realignment of agents and major agencies in the last year, Solar says that while there’s always movement, “it does seem like this year it’s a little more noticeable. People’s contracts are up and they get a better situation, or they have a different vision, and they move on.”
Another focus at APA as on cross-representation. Solar uses the signing last year of Mary J. Blige and 50 Cent as examples of music artists who can have in-house representation in all areas including Film and TV, Literary, Theater and so on.
And APA’s moves across departments are paying off, he says.
“The fact is we had the [Academy Award] Best Actor winner last year. We’ve had a number of No. 1 books. There’s been big accomplishments at APA in production, literary and theater, film and TV. It’s not just music.”
Solar says the progression at APA has been happening since Gosnell brought him in to run the West Coast office.
“It’s nice to have the title, but one of the reasons Jim brought me in in the beginning was to take a larger role almost immediately. It wasn’t official for a while but it was running the office, and then I became a partner. It’s been a nice progression but it’s been happening anyway.
“We’re going to continue to focus on making APA stronger. We’re building something nice and in a good way. There’s a lot of emphasis on the younger people here and that’s what we’re into. My role goes from everything from therapist to helping book dates. Steve Martin and Andy Somers are really helpful to the younger people here and they like to take larger roles in developing careers,” Solar said. “I like to think of APA as the world’s largest boutique agency.”