APA and AGI Merge, Form Independent Artist Group; Dennis Arfa Named Music Chairman, Jim Osborne Named CEO

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Today (June 21), two top independent agencies, Artist Group International (AGI) and Agency for the Performing Arts (APA), announced they are merging and will operate as Independent Artist Group, a new full-service agency with a top-tier music division.

Dennis Arfa, founder and CEO of AGI, was named Chairman of IAG’s Music Division , Jim Osborne, current President of APA, was named CEO of IAG and Marsha Vlasic, AGI’s President, was named Vice-Chair of the Music Division.

The new entity, with its combined music roster and film/TV clients, could rival some of the larger music agencies including, United Talent Agency and Wasserman Music, if not music agency market leaders CAA and WME.

Dennis Arfa

“This was the natural next step in our evolution and made in the best interests of our valued artists,” Arfa said in a statement. “We have admired how Jim Osborne and their colleagues have been market leaders in creating brand expanding, non-touring revenue opportunities for their clients and we are excited to build on that success with them and look forward to integrating under the Independent Artist Group banner.”

Osborne added: “Dennis Arfa and his exceptional colleagues at AGI are revered in the industry, having built a spectacular artist roster and a sterling reputation. The great news is we have already established a tremendous working relationship with them through shared representation on some of their most valued artists. This new partnership with AGI and our rebrand to Independent Artist Group is another major step that elevates us within the agency landscape…and we are not done yet!”

In addition to Vlasic and Arfa, the entire AGI team, including COO Jarred Arfa, President of Touring Adam Kornfeld as well as Nick Storch, Pete Pappalardo, Mike Arfin, Justin Hirschman, Craig Brock, Adam Countryman, Philip Barrett and Maxx Vick among others will join IAG.

AGI’s music roster includes a number of top touring artists including Billy Joel, Metallica, Def Leppard, Rod Stewart, Motley Crue, Linkin Park, Jane’s Addiction, Pantera, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Norah Jones, Neil Young, The Strokes, Smashing Pumpkins, Ghost, Elvis Costello, Cage The Elephant and Five Finger Death Punch.

APA’s music roster included a number of high-profile hip-hop, R&B and jazz acts to compliment AGI’s primarily rock acts. This includes 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige, Ms. Lauryn Hill, 2 Chainz, NE-YO, Robert Glasper, Kamasi Washington, D’Angelo, Key Glock, $not, blackbear, JAX, Cypress Hill, Bryce Vine and Jon Bellion. Additionally, APA represents a number of comedians including Martin Lawrence, Mike Epps, Loni Love, Felipe Esparza, Ms. Pat and Ronny Chieng.

“We are excited to grow our music touring footprint especially with APA’s roster of Urban and Comedy artists, which augments what we have built at AGI,” Arfa further stated. “The combination of artists, agents and offices provides us with a tremendous platform with exciting growth possibilities in the touring and crossover space, which is our plan.”

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Jim Osborne (Sarah M Golonka)

Like AGI, IAG will operate under the umbrella of Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Ent. LLC, which is a part of Yucaipa Companies, Burkle’s private equity firm founded in 1986. Yucapia acquired a majority stake in AGI in 2011. AGI was founded in 1999 and before that was called QBQ Ent., which launched in ‘86 after Arfa had worked for five years at William Morris. QBQ stood for “Quality Before Quantity,” a business ethos at the core of AGI’s operations.

APA was founded in New York in 1962 by former MCA executives David Baumgarten, Roger Vorce, and Harvey Litwin.

Osborne’s agency clients have spanned both film and music and include Oscar winner Gary Oldman, Mary J. Blige, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, “MacGyver” star Lucas Till, rapper T.I., Douglas Urbanski and “Fast and Furious” actor Tyrese Gibson.

Yucaipa Ent. has invested in a number of live music industry companies, including Barcelona’s Primavera Sound (2018), Danny Wimmer Presents (Feb. 2020) and John Jackson’s K2  (Sept 2020). In August 2021, AGI announced an alliance with X-Ray Touring,

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Marsha Vlasic

Over the past year, AGI and APA worked together on several clients in the crossover space including Billy Joel, Daryl Hall, Perry Farrell, GHOST and Billy Corgan.

According to Vlasic, this isn’t the first time AGI has looked to partner with another full-service agency.

“Over the years we have looked at many different opportunities to partner with a full-service agency,” she said. “This time the people, circumstances and timing were all in alignment to best serve our artists. We believe the value each side brings to the table creates a uniquely important agency that is right for the marketplace and we couldn’t be more excited to get started as IAG.”   

Independent Artist Group will have offices in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and Atlanta. A new website, Independentartistgroup.com, will launch this summer.