At a time when highly successful streaming artists are regularly subject to large-scale bidding wars, Paradigm's head of global music Marty Diamond has long learned not to follow the hype. For him, the lesson was taken home in the late 1990s, when the longtime tour agent hired New Zealand's pop group WTO, which achieved global success with his 1996 single "How Bizarre" – and then imploded .
"I signed this guy, his music was starting to come out and we couldn't sell a ticket," said Diamond of the late group singer Philip Fuemana during an interview with Billboard editorial director Robert Levine at the Live Music Summit. Billboard on Tuesday (November 5th). "And on a promotional tour, he beat the local promotion representative … and the manager. He was one of those where it seemed a big hit, acted like a big hit, (but) he couldn't sell a ticket. And he disappeared very quickly. . "
Since the inception of the influential Little Big Man booking agency in 1994 with his business partner and current Paradigm vice president Larry Webman – who has taken the stage alongside Diamond Tuesday – Diamond has experienced a huge tumult in the music industry. music. But in the age of big data, it has not changed its fundamental approach to work.
"In terms of what I sign, or the things I'm involved with, I act a lot about what my gut is and how it makes me feel," Diamond said during the conversation. "I still sign what I like and work on what I think is really cool, and when I try to get away from that instinct, I mess it up. Whenever I think, I'm going to sign this because it's going to be a big deal, isn't it?" big. Nine times out of ten. "
Diamond – who was recently honored by longtime clients Sara Bareilles, Janelle Monae and David Gray at the annual City Parks Foundation New York gala – honed her instincts for years before starting Little Big Man, working at jobs at Arista, PolyGram, Bill Graham Management, New York music venue The Ritz (now Webster Hall) and finally International Talent Group. But it was only when ITG co-founders Wayne Forte and Michael Farrell decided to split up that Diamond finally made the decision to attack on his own.
"I had $ 30,000. A friend of mine, Jim Grant and his partner Roger Cramer, who at the time ran Soul Coughing and Living Color, said," Oh, you can take up space in our office, " said Diamond. "And they were literally across the street from where ITG was on Seventh Avenue. So I grabbed the boxes, crossed the street – never really looking at the space Jim was giving me, just assuming I'm getting an office – (e) it was Vernon Reid's guitar cabinet. "
Despite these humble beginnings, Diamond – along with Webman and Tammy Shin-Sprotte, who now works for accounting at Paradigm – turned Little Big Man into a thriving booking agency through a mix of passion, industry knowledge, and unethical work ethic. adulterated.
"Marty has a very creative view of things and, with his many other experiences so far, he has been able to sit down in a meeting with a client and talk about his entire career with a deep understanding of how labels work. administration, "said Webman. "At the time, other agents who were just agents of his entire career did not have this complete vision. I think his passion for the act and his ability to speak the whole scenario helped convince people that yes, this dude knows what he's up to. Plus, I think we beat them all. "
The excitement was worth it. Over the next decade, Diamond and his companions transformed Little Big Man into a world-class travel agency, representing artists such as Monae, Coldplay, Franz Ferdinand, Avril Lavigne, Arctic Monkeys, Snow Patrol and Sarah McLachlan, with whom Diamond co-founded the women's-only tour festival at Lilith Fair in the late 1990s. And in 2006, the agency was acquired by Paradigm, where Diamond has been since (he was named head of global music last April).
Today, Diamond continues to thrive in a music industry that has changed dramatically since it first entered decades ago. He hears these changes echoing in the words of his own children, which embody the fast pace of today's streaming culture during joint in-car listening sessions.
"I travel a lot to Montauk during the summer, and until my children are fully in tune with me, I live for the main successes of the car's transmission cycle," he said. "And I spend more time skipping songs. And then asking, 'But I thought you liked it?' (And they respond)‘ No, no, I enjoyed last week. "
As Diamond notes, this kind of culture can make things difficult when it comes to hiring artists whose huge streaming numbers don't always translate into loyal fans.
"There is this component of how, that 2 million streams or 3 million streams or 5 million streams can mean 17 tickets (being sold)," he continued. "You can see the data … but there's a big disconnect between taking $ 10 out of pocket or $ 20 on a song."
As far as loyalty is concerned, there are few in the market who can command it, like Diamond, many of whom his first clients – including Bareilles, former Verve leader Richard Ashcroft and his first client David Gray – have stayed with him for a long time. decades. And despite his reputation as a larger-than-life personality, Webman notes that, most of all, Diamond has managed to open his ears.
"Marty's best quality is his ability to listen," said Webman. "Be able to understand what this person is saying and see the bigger picture."
But perhaps Diamond's most important asset is his continued passion for the work he does.
"I still love it," he said at the end of the questions and answers. "I still get in the car and sing when the radio is on."