The live industry over the last few years has made great strides in diversity, inclusivity and equity; even though, like most industries, it still has a long way to go—especially at its highest echelons. The TBA Agency, borne of the pandemic’s great realignment in September 2020 by five former Paradigm agents, however, may be, well, a paradigm of sorts.
Amy Davidman and Avery McTaggart, two of TBA’s five partners/co-founders, are out loud and proud and creating opportunities and successes for clients, colleagues, the live business and even the larger music ecosystem. With 35 years of agenting experience between them, which includes stints at the Windish Agency and Paradigm, the duo now find themselves in positions of power to be the change they’ve always wanted.
“There are different ways to be in the business, especially in the agency world. As I got into it, I felt like there was this idea of what an agent was supposed to be and how they’re supposed to do their job well,” Davidman says. “Over time, and definitely over the last two years with the other TBA partners, and stepping into my own way of how I am an agent, how I do business, how I see business from my feminine perspective, from my gay perspective, from my entire background perspective, is that I don’t have to do it like everybody else. I can be really great at what I do, doing it the way that I do it based on who I represent and how I represent.”
TBA, which was co-founded with partners Marshall Betts, Ryan Craven and Devin Landau, reps a diversity of artists, this includes: acclaimed headliners like Courtney Barnett, War on Drugs, Chvrches, Hot Chip, Tune-Yards and Bebel Gilberto, (whose grosses can reach six figures, according to reports submitted to Pollstar); as well as highly touted up-and-comers like Jay Som, Remi Wolf, Ethel Cain, Girlpool, Madame Gandhi and Pabllo Vittar among others.
Both Davidman and McTaggart say in recent years their roles as agents have evolved and their varied backgrounds and perspectives are assets. As McTaggart says, “I think being a great agent now is different than being a great agent a decade ago. Some of it is very nuts, bolts and transactional, but what has changed is what we are doing touches a lot more sides of an artist’s career, whether it’s the positioning of their music, the way that it’s released, the proliferation of new festivals, businesses and culture, brand deals and other opportunities that aren’t explicitly part of live.
He adds, “It’s entirely natural for an agent to sit in a lot of conversations that before would not have been obvious, whether with the publicist in conjunction with the manager, the label and others that is a lot more collaborative and a very welcome change.”
The duo’s point of view also impacts how they run TBA. “It changes the outlook of the entire team for all of us to be able to come together with all of these different backgrounds and different experiences, and create a culture at the company,” Davidman says. “We’ve started out with a larger sense of understanding and inclusivity than I’ve never felt at any other company.”
TBA recently put out a quarterly “lookbook,” a concept borrowed from the fashion industry in which companies seasonally put out their latest styles and looks. The words “PRIDE IS EVERYDAY” graces the cover of this quarter’s well-designed new lookbook, which contains detailed information and photos on nearly a dozen TBA artists, including Vittar, Barnett, Cain, Orion Sun, Girlpool and Hurray For the Riff Raff.
“I have to give credit to Samantha Tacón and Katie Nowak, who put these together,” says McTaggart. “We do them quarterly, so the one that we sent out ahead of June is our pride book. We as a company put a big emphasis on really being considerate about how we are presenting our artists.”
“It’s not outward-facing, so not everybody sees it,” Davidman says. “It’s an industry document, it’s for pitching and bringing in more opportunities for an artist. It’s these things that set us apart in how we pitch artists and how we treat our artists and how we think about them for opportunities.”