X-ray Touring Announces Alliance With Artist Group International, Extends Partnership With Yucaipa

Chris Martin of Coldplay
Michael Zorn / Invision / AP

Chris Martin of Coldplay, who is represented outside the U.S. by X-ray Touring. The company has just made an alliance with AGI and extended its partnership with Yucaipa. Coldplay is seen here performing at the 2017 “Budweiser Made In America” Festival in Philadelphia.

X-ray Touring – the powerhouse independent London-based music agency whose impressive roster outside the U.S. includes Coldplay, Eminem, Robbie Williams, Gorillaz, Queens Of The Stone Age, Phoebe Bridgers and Linkin Park – today announced an alliance with the preeminent independent U.S.-based agency Artist Group International and the extension of its joint venture with Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies, which also backs AGI.   

X-ray, which was founded in 2005, will continue under the control and direction of founding partners Martin Horne, Ian Huffam, Steve Strange and Scott Thomas. The agency announced the addition of agent Josh Javor, who has been at the company since its inception, to its management board.

Steve Strange and Ian Huffam
(Courtesy X-Ray Touring)

Steve Strange and Ian Huffam, two of X-ray Touring’s co-founders.

“I am personally excited and delighted by our renewed joint venture partnership with my good friend Ron Burkle and the Yucaipa group,” said the inimitable Strange in a statement. “I am also looking forward to our new strategic partnership with AGI in the US. I have known Dennis and Marsha [Vlasic] and others at AGI for many years and truly believe our alliance will work fantastically well. We already feel that the chemistry between both companies can only strengthen our global impact.”

The announcement follows Wasserman’s April 2021 acquisition of Paradigm, which had partnered with X-ray in April 2017 when the U.K. agency also announced its partnership with Yucaipa. The Wasserman-Paradigm deal, however, did not include the former music agency’s international holdings, including both X-ray the Coda Agency.

Founded by chairman Dennis Arfa in 1986, AGI’s power roster includes Billy Joel, Metallica, Rod Stewart, Neil Young, Linkin Park, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, PJ Harvey, Elvis Costello, Hall & Oates, Norah Jones, The Strokes and Cage the Elephant. They will join forces with and synergize with X-ray’s roster of over 400 acts which, in addition to the aforementioned artists, includes The Pixies, Stereophonics, Bombay Bicycle Club, The Internet, The Offspring, Enter Shikari and Fever 333.  

“We’re excited. to have this affiliation with X-ray and all the superstars they represent and all the synergies,” said Jarred Arfa, AGI COO,  who noted the similar arrangement his company made with John Jackson’s K2 Agency, the firm Yucaipa picked up last year. K2’s roster includes Metallica, Volbeat and Atreyu, acts AGI handles in the U.S., as well as many other prominent acts, including Iron Maiden, Slayer, Alter Bridge and A Day To Remember.

“We can’t totally judge yet the results because this has all gone down during the pandemic,” said Arfa when asked about the synergies these deals offer. “First, we share information. We have a Zoom call every week with the K2 Agency and our agents and share information, whether its promoters, tours, market conditions. I think you’ll also see a lot of artists signings together where we sign acts worldwide whether it be acts K2 or X-ray have signed in their territories and we sign here or vice versa, I think you’ll see a lot of that type of synergy going on.”

Courtesy AGI

Dennis and Jarred Arfa

Arfa also noted these deals ultimately will help each agency and their artists. “We’re all now under the same umbrella, the U.S. and U.K. agents, as opposed to competing with different agencies for different artists,” he said. “Now, we’re all on the same team.”

To that end, Arfa said he has massive respect for his new X-ray colleagues. “Ian Huffam’s business, acumen and the tremendous roster him and his team have built is incredibly impressive. Steve Strange is a superstar agent with a superstar clientele. He has a big personality that people just gravitate to. He’s one of those people you can’t help but like. He’s a real music guy, and to have him and his A&R skills as part of our team will only help us in North America and grow our business as a whole.”

Yucaipa has quietly become a major player in the live space over the last several years, with interests in a number of live companies, including promoter Danny Wimmer Presents, Spain’s Primavera Sound Festival and APA, as well as K2, Independent Talent Group (ITG), LBI Entertainment talent management, Independent Sports & Entertainment and Steinberg Sports.

When asked about synergies between Yucaipa’s film and TV agencies and the music agencies, Afra said, “while there’s no formal affiliation, we can tap into all of these companies as needed. Our cousin companies do provide those resources so we can and have made introductions when it makes sense for our artists when they have opportunity they’re looking for.”

Arfa also noted the deal AGI made this past April with Maureen Valker-Barlow’s BrandMark Agency for sponsorship, marketing and branding.

“The fact of the matter is that before COVID we were AGI, a strong independent North American booking agency,” Arfa said. “Now, we’re AGI, a strong, North American Independent booking agency who has partnerships with two of the greatest UK independent companies.”