They Have Arrived: Former Paradigm Agents Join Together To Create Arrival Artists

courtesy of Arrival Artists
– The Principals of Arrival Artists
Karl Morse, Ali Hedrick, Ethan Berlin, Matt Yasecko, Erik Selz, and John Bongiorno.
Ali Hedrick, Erik Selz, John Bongiorno, Karl Morse and Ethan Berlin – all most recently booking agents at Paradigm Talent Agency – have teamed up with Matt Yasecko, the former COO of Billions Corporations, to establish Arrival Artists agency. Agency associate Jess Bumsted is also coming over from Paradigm. 
The agents are bringing nearly all of their client rosters from Paradigm, including Khruangbin, Sufjan Stevens, BADBADNOTGOOD, Mt. Joy, Nubya Garcia, Car Seat Headrest, Andrew Bird, Chicano Batman, Goose, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twin Peaks, The New Pornographers, Les Claypool, Pup, Joan Osborne, Glen Hansard and Destroyer. 
The full agency roster for Arrival Artists will be listed in next week’s Industry Hotwire
The five agents and Yasecko are all partners in this endeavor and told Pollstar that they have been raising the funds and laying the groundwork for this announcement for months, soon after the pandemic hit. 
“I don’t think we were talking about going independent before the pandemic. Speaking for myself, I was happy at Paradigm, even though I never fancied myself as a big agency kind of guy,” Bongiorno told Pollstar. “But when the batch of us got together, we were all drawn to each other in the sense that we were all really friendly with each other … we’re all like the mechanic under the car, the five agents that came together. We’re all low profile worker bees who get into the nooks and crannies of artist development. I think a lot of times the artists on our rosters really need specific navigation in their career, and I think that’s where the five of us have excelled.”
Indeed numerous Arrival clients have had very unique “navigation” this year, and a fair number have continued performing at drive-in shows and socially-distanced gigs (largely outdoors) during the pandemic. Mt. Joy, Goose and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong are just some of the more than 100 shows in 28 states that have been booked by Arrival agents in the last six months.
Hedrick said she foresees lots of changes on the horizon for the live business in 2021, and she and her colleagues are ready for whatever may come. 
“I think there’s going to be more opportunities in 2021 in the live space, for sure. There will be outdoor shows, socially distanced shows. Right now its kind of the wild west. EDM promoters are putting on shows. I know someone who did a renaissance fair wanting to book drive-in concerts. I think what’s going to happen next year is our promoters who have been in the game for a long time are going to figure out ways to do socially distant shows, so there’s going to be a lot more opportunities for bands. 
“I also think there is a way to make packaging work. You can add a couple dollars onto the ticket price and find a way to make the money work for everyone.”
Berlin said the diversity of Arrival’s roster is a real strength of the new agency carrying over from their time at Paradigm. 
“We’re trying to hold onto the best parts of what it meant to be at Paradigm, now at a smaller shop,” Berlin told Pollstar. “For this group in particular that means being surrounded by other great, very experienced agents with awesome rosters and tastes in music, and also having diversity in roster and genre to make sure we are staying on top of all the opportunities that exist out there. Today I think bands can be genre-less or have two genres and I think music fans are not myopic – there are scenes, but they are a little more broad. I don’t think people look down on anyone else based on their musical tastes. If you listen to this band, it’s OK if you also listen to that band. So for us as an agency, working in all those different worlds allows us to introduce our acts to promoters and festivals that people wouldn’t originally think made sense, but really do.”
The agency has also announced a partnership with ATC Live in Europe to provide better international representation to both company’s clients. ATC currently represents Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Lumineers, Mac DeMarco, Julia Jacklin and many more. 
While the principals are now working for themselves, they have also set up a profit-sharing model which distributes a percentage of the company’s profit every year to all employees, making sure that everyone is invested in the company’s success and reaps the benefits of hard work. 
Yasecko – who prior to this position was working as COO of the nonprofit organization Plus1, which he co-founded – told Pollstar it was important that if he were going to start his own company, that it reflected his values not only in its dealings with the artists and principals, but with all employees. 
“For me, if we’re building a culture where we are all focused on the same things – the success of our clients and the success of the agency – then it is key for me that the compensation structure backs that up,” Yasecko said. “I think a lot of companies say those type of things, but there is a money talks component to it to, of backing it up.”
Arrival Artists is not the first independent agency to form out of the wreckage the COVID-19 pandemic has left in its wake. TBA and MINT Talent Group both formed with the participation of former Paradigm employees, and others in the case of MINT
“The formation of TBA, MINT and Arrival were all concurrent,” Selz told Pollstar. “In our case, on the heels of the furloughs at Paradigm on March 20, we were all having a million conversation every day. Within three weeks we had a pretty rough sense of the team we were moving forward with. I think TBA was forming in a similar rhythm, as was MINT.”
And Morse told Pollstar that there is room for Arrival to grow and add artists and agents as necessary throughout the coming years. 
“Maybe it sounds counterintuitive to launch during such a tough time for the business, but that’s certainly not the case. It’s a testament to all of our artists coming with us, the goodwill and support we have received from the industry and managers specifically during the ramp up, and I think we’re going to be an exciting option for other agents who may have gotten mixed up for pandemic reasons or see the passion and culture we have and that we are here to roll up our sleeves and do honest, good work. Long term I think this is a blessing in disguise for all of us.”

Subscribers can see digital edition of Pollstar on Friday for an extended feature with interviews from all the principals of Arrival Artists.