Management Shake-Up: Two ROAR Founders Exit to Form New Company
ROAR's entire music department, including clients Dwight Yoakam and The Grateful Dead, is moving to the new firm, dubbed Activist, which is being backed by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Tony Khan.
Bernie Cahill and Greg Suess, two of ROAR management's four founders, are exiting to form a new management company dubbed Activist Artists Management, which is being funded by Jacksonville Jaguars owners the Khan family. As part of the move, ROAR's entire music department, including clients Dwight Yoakam and The Grateful Dead, is following the pair to Activist.
Also defecting is ROAR partner and head of the firm’s Nashville office Matt Maher, as well as Liz Norris, who previously was ROAR’s head of media strategy and brands. Norris will join Activist as a partner and head up the firm's New York office.
The moves comes as a blow to ROAR, best known outside of music circles for managing such clients as Chris and Liam Hemsworth, considering that Cahill, Suess and Maher represented a majority of the partners at ROAR. Activist will oversee a roster of top recording artists, actors, writers, industry icons, brands, entertainment properties, philanthropists and high net-worth family offices.
Activist already boasts a staff of 23 associates — including 11 managers — with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Nashville and Atlanta.
Tony Khan is making a significant investment in Activist and has separately established the Activist content and venture fund focused on investments in media, entertainment, hospitality and consumer products, services and technologies. In addition to the Jaguars, the Khan family owns London-based Fulham FC, Flex-N-Gate Group and The Four Seasons Toronto, among other holdings. Cahill and Suess enjoy a relationship with the Khan family through previous investments and partnerships including The Virgin Hotels — Nashville, Appetize Technologies, Fair and The Real Coconut.
In addition to Yoakam and The Grateful Dead, Cahill will continue to represent such clients as Michael Franti & Spearhead, Ben Rector, Bob Weir, Nashville actress Clare Bowen, touring juggernaut Dead & Company (co-managed by Azoff/Moir), David Alan Grier, Sal Masekela and celebrity chef Stephanie Izard.
Cahill, a former intellectual property attorney, specializes in artist and talent representation, content creation, global touring, digital rights management and IP licensing. He will lead Activist’s music and talent divisions.
Suess will advise clients at Activist across a wide range of transactions, content strategies, seed and growth capital, strategic alliances, joint-venture agreements, licensing agreements, mergers and acquisitions, dispositions and marketing and distribution agreements. Previously, Suess was a strategic advisor to Vice Media and strategic advisor to and investor in Appetize, Cinedigm, Genius Brands, Influential, Ticketfairy and Virgin Hotels — Nashville, all of which have joined Activist as clients. He also will continue to advise Activist’s clients in their non-profit endeavors (while at Roar, Suess led fundraising initiatives that resulted in more than $50 million in funding for various causes, including $35 million for Zac Brown’s Camp Southern Ground, where he is still an active advisory board member).
Maher will head Activist’s Nashville office, where he will continue to serve as the day-to-day manager for a number of Activist’s prominent recording artists. At ROAR, Maher helped build the music careers of Yoakam, Rector and Zac Brown Band. Maher, along with Cahill and Suess, continue to be partners with Brown in the Z wine label. He also was an artist-songwriter signed to Capitol Records and EMI Music Publishing.
While at ROAR, Norris oversaw media strategy, brand development and award campaigns for music and talent clients across all disciplines, including Zac Brown Band’s three Grammy wins. She will continue to create promotional opportunities and awareness around award season campaigns, album release campaigns and touring. Norris will oversee Dead & Company’s summer 2018 stadium tour and Yoakam’s LSD Tour, among others.
“Activist was created for authentic artists that are striving to make a difference through their art — simply put, we have the team here that can help them move the world,” Cahill said.
Added Suess: “We are incredibly proud of what we have accomplished together at ROAR and are looking forward to continuing to provide our clients with the highest level of forward-thinking representation in this next, exciting endeavor.”
Activist's new headquarters is located at 8500 Melrose Ave. in West Hollywood.