Paradigm Signs Kenny Chesney, Old Dominion Following Acquisition of Booking Business

Allister Ann
Kenny Chesney

The agency has struck a strategic alliance with Morris Higham Management and acquired its in-house touring arm, Dale Morris & Associates.

Paradigm has struck a strategic alliance with Morris Higham Management, one of Nashville's preeminent music managers, adding Kenny Chesney (the highest-grossing country touring artist of all time, according to Billboard Boxscore) and fast-rising country music upstarts Old Dominion to its roster.

The new clients come with the agency's acquisition of Dale Morris & Associates, the in-house booking business of Dale Morris and Clint Higham's management firm. As part of the agreement, Paradigm is hiring agents Mike Betterton, who served as MHM vp and GM, and Nate Ritches, who has worked with Morris and Higham since 2011. Betterton and Ritches will work out of Paradigm's Nashville office, which is led by Jonathan Levine and Jackie Nalpant.

The common denominator in the deal is promoter Louis Messina, who promotes both Chesney and Paradigm clients Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes, while Messina's partners at AEG Presents are producing Old Dominion's 2019 arena and amphitheater tour.

Morris Higham Management was born out of Morris' management business, which was first created in the 1980s to guide the career of Alabama, and the two managers have worked with such acts as Martina McBride, Barbara Mandrell and Jake Owen. The agreement with Paradigm means current clients like Chesney and Old Dominion — as well as Brandon Lay, Ryan Griffin and Walker County — will have access to new branding, digital and sync opportunities negotiated by Paradigm, Higham tells Billboard.

"We've been approached by everyone, but it didn't feel right until we met [Paradigm chairman and CEO] Sam Gores and learned more about the company he built," says Higham. "We've always focused on the integrity of building our artist's touring careers ... the time had come to ensure our artists had more opportunities to expand their business."

Chesney is one of the top-grossing country artists of all time, with his recent Trip Around the Sun Tour earning $114 million in sales over 42 shows. The 2018 stadium run was Chesney's highest-grossing tour to date, with his final shows at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, delivering an $11.6 million gross in front of 121,714 fans. Billboard ranked the "No Shoes Nation" singer the highest-grossing country music artist of the 2000s and eighth overall behind Dave Matthews Band and Celine Dion. In total, Chesney has reported a cumulative $1 billion in ticket sales to Billboard Boxscore since he began touring in the mid-'90s.

Morris said in a statement that the Paradigm agreement continues his company's tradition of putting "artists and fans first," while Gores celebrated Morris and Higham as "independent pioneers who share our unwavering focus on the artists we represent and the art they create."

Chesney and Old Dominion now join a growing Paradigm music roster that includes Kacey Musgraves, Ed Sheeran, Halsey, Coldplay, Janelle Monae, Shawn Mendes, Phish, Margo Price, Tiesto, Lorde, Dave Matthews Band, Sturgill Simpson and The Lumineers.

This story first appeared on Billboard.com.