Paradigm Agrees to Sell Music Division to Wasserman

Sam Gores, Casey Wasserman
Annie Shak; Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Paradigm's Sam Gores; Casey Wasserman.

The talent firm's roster reps Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish, Black Pumas, Coldplay, Kacey Musgraves, Imagine Dragons and many other top-selling artists.

One of Hollywood’s largest rosters of music clients is moving under new ownership. 

Paradigm Talent Agency has agreed to sell its North American live music representation business to Casey Wasserman’s lifestyle marketing and management firm, the agency said. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of this year and the untitled music division will operate as a stand-alone unit. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. 

“This agreement is a win for all parties and a vital step on the restructuring path we embarked upon more than a year ago. It represents an important transition for the incredible music agents of Paradigm and the artists they so brilliantly serve," said Paradigm chairman Sam Gores.

Gores added: "We are huge fans of Casey Wasserman and the company he’s built, and I am very pleased that he and his team will be at the helm of this important business line. It’s both thrilling and bittersweet to reach this agreement, transition to a new era for Paradigm, and initiate a stabilizing solution during a global pandemic that has created an existential crisis for our industry.”

The Beverly Hills-based Paradigm’s roster includes Ed Sheeran, Billie Eilish, Black Pumas, Coldplay, Kacey Musgraves, Imagine Dragons and many other top-selling artists. The firm, run by chairman Gores, has built up its music division through years of acquiring boutique talent and management companies, including Monterey Peninsula Artists, Little Big Man, Third Coast Artists Agency, AM Only, Windish Agencies and Coda Agency.

Wasserman, founded in 2002, has a large footprint in the sports representation space across basketball, baseball, hockey, the NFL and Olympic athletes. Last year, the management firm also acquired hockey-focused agency Acme World Sports as well as Lithuanian basketball agency BBaltics. (Casey Wasserman also serves as the chair for LA28, which helped organize Los Angeles' bid for the 2028 Olympics.)

Since 2016, when the company rebranded from Wasserman Media Group to Wasserman, the firm has expanded further into culture, media and entertainment, adding creative and marketing agencies like Laundry Service and Boris Agency, and launching a social audience data platform called Unlock.

The sale of Paradigm's music division is among the first strategic moves by the firm since billionaire investor and NBA's Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores took a stake in the talent firm in June. "This is one of several important steps that put us in a financial position not only to weather this crisis, but to invest in future growth," Sam Gores, the brother of Tom, told employees at the time.

In a memo to staff on March 17 disclosing the music division agreement with Wasserman, Paradigm leadership also noted that it is "in active discussion regarding strategic partners for its Talent and Literary business, and will be revealing that strategy at a later date." In June 2019, Paradigm rebuffed an offer from rival United Talent Agency to acquire the talent/literary and music divisions, with Gores saying at the time that a sale "would have made sense for both agencies" but ultimately decided against the move.

Like many Hollywood talent agencies, Paradigm took a hit to its representation business amid the monthslong film and TV production shutdown and live concert cancellations during the pandemic. In September, the firm disclosed permanent layoffs of 180 employees who had been previously furloughed as part of cost-cutting and pay cut measures taken in 2020. Last April, Wasserman disclosed that it was laying off 3 percent of its workforce while furloughing other staffers and cutting bonuses for executive leadership.