ICM Partners’ Rob Prinz: Co-Head of Worldwide Concerts Talks A Brave New World

Rob Prinz
– Rob Prinz

Industry veteran Rob Prinz, who joined ICM Partners’ music division just five years ago, completed the formation of a partnership with UK agency Primary Talent International and announced the deal March 10 – just in time for the concert industry to seemingly collapse under the tidal wave of coronavirus fears. Like everyone else, he and his company are making major adjustments in the way they not only conduct business but live their lives in the face of quarantines, shelter in place orders, and uncertainty.

POLLSTAR: How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting your life and work so far?
Rob Prinz: I want to believe we will come through this stronger as a family and a company. It’s incumbent upon all of us to become more creative and to reinvent things. I told my wife we need to reinvent our daily routines with our kids and implement structure that was previously set for us by society, and it’s a huge challenge and fascinating at the same time.
We’ve heard what’s happening to the industry in such a short time referred to as a “reset.” Does it feel that way to you?
I don’t know if it’s a reset, but it feels like more of a new start. A complete reinvention of everything. A reimagining if you will. 
Agents, promoters and others have talked about a new level of cooperation between stakeholders that have often been seen as rivals. Do you see that as well?
Any other path is foolish. I think we need to be putting our colleagues, whether they’re on the same or different teams, our industry, our clients and our fans’ interests first. That really demands that everyone’s minds and creativity get together and try to speak with one voice. 
What is ICM Partners’ strategy for rescheduling lost shows and tours on a global scale?
It’s really a bit all over the place. Some buyers want to reschedule dates as quickly as possible and announce them, and others are realizing that we don’t know if these dates are going to play in June or July or October. Some artists want to try to get dates on the books right away. That may not be the wise move, either. You reschedule and announce for, say, June or September and there’s a reasonable chance that, before you know it, you’re going to have to do it all over again. We’re kind of trying to figure it out industrywide, together, and we’re also dealing with it in a case-by-case manner. Everybody feels like they’re working harder than ever, with a lot of unknowns.

As a full-service agency, are you able to provide replacement opportunities for your clients during the downtime?
We’re looking at all potential opportunities. Online tends to be the medium of choice because of the ability to do things without congregating people. But there’s no sector of the industry that really hasn’t been hit. Production companies are shutting down, cinemas, Broadway, concerts, you name it. Somebody could sit home and write a book and deliver a manuscript. Somebody can do a video at home and put it out. But in terms of immediately substituting content and monetizing it, this is where all the creativity we can muster is going to come into play. 
You announced your partnership with Primary Talent International the day before we all sat and watched postponement announcements pour into our inboxes. How does this affect the partnership going forward, or does it?
The timing is unfortunate because we were looking forward to flying everybody over and sitting down together and discussing strategies, socializing, and introducing ourselves to each other. So that has to be put on hold. Aside from that, we are opening up dialogue and communicating and starting the process of including them in the coalition of agencies and promoters in figuring out how to address our overall industry.
How do you see ICM and Primary Talent working together on that global level going forward?
I consider them one of the best independent global music agencies in the world. We didn’t have an agency in London before, so that gives us a great base of operations there with some great agents and an amazing list of clients. We’re going to be able to tap into all of the full agency resources to support them and a whole cadre of agents to work with us on international booking. We have a huge comedy business that they weren’t into at all and we’re going to be able to grow that in the UK where comedy is a big, big business. We just feel like it was a match made in heaven in terms of balancing each other out and filling in any gaps we might have needed. We’re really excited about it.