Lance Roberts is a 23-year music industry veteran who started his career at The Bobby Roberts Company, eventually rising to president of the company in 2012.
In August 2014, The Agency Group acquired The Bobby Roberts Company, with Roberts now helping oversee the day-to-day operations of the Nashville office (The Agency Group also has offices in London, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Miami and Malmo.)
Roberts (pictured) — who has been the agent for Waylon Jennings and now represents Merle Haggard, Chris Janson and Marty Stuart (among others) — recently met with Post Managing Editor to discuss The Agency Group as the one-year mark of the acquisition looms.
How many employees to you have in the Nashville office and what are your growth plans?
We are growing every week. In the last eight months, this office has gone from eight employees to 25, and from 2,500 square feet to 7,500 square feet. The merger added 40 clients to The Agency Group's roster.
What was the main challenge of integrating the employees from The Bobby Roberts Co.?
Nick Meinema, my partner and senior VP, had already been in town with The Agency Group for a couple of years prior to the merger. He did a great job getting the Nashville office off the ground, so it was as simple as moving everyone under one roof. We now are all located in the iconic Cummins Station.
Our whole staff made the move, so every employee kept their same role. We did add more support staff to assist with contracting, etc. But what was so appealing about the merger is that they allowed us to maintain our business without interruption. The Agency Group shared the same business philosophy we had at The Bobby Roberts Company. Everyone integrated well and we didn’t miss a beat.
As vice president overseeing the Nashville office, what are (were) your key challenges?
With the roster that we brought into The Agency Group, it was important for us to have our clients be comfortable with this transition. We’ve been successful in that. We are having an incredible year for all of The Agency Group Nashville clients.
At BRC we had 25 years of relationships and good will in Nashville that we brought into this office. Additionally, The Agency Group's offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Toronto, Malmo and Miami offer many more services that we can provide to our clients.
I think our ongoing challenge is to continue to find people that want to work as hard as we do. The music business is not your typical nine to five. We travel, we are out at all hours, and our clients appreciate it when we show up to their shows. It’s hard to find people that can wrap their heads around this. We want to hire people that have this entrepreneurial spirit.
Nick heads The Agency Group’s North America Fairs and Festival Department. What does that entail for him?
Nick was instrumental in facilitating the deal between BRC and The Agency Group. Nick has an extensive roster of amazing artists and is one of the top agents in Canada for country music. In addition, he does oversee the fair/festival department for North America. He handles all of the agency’s artists that want to include fair and festival dates in their touring. He has been amazing to watch and learn from.
The company offers a talent roster that is extremely diverse in terms of music genres. Your thoughts?
This is what I love about this company. Every agent here is an entrepreneur. We sign, develop and build artists careers. There are no boundaries here. Whether it’s a new artist or an established artist, we are constantly creating business to enhance their brands through touring, marketing, brand alliances, etc. If I want to work a project from a different genre, I can do that here. We have clients represented from our Nashville office that are indie, rock, reggae, Americana, and so on. We are a well-connected and diverse team.
What are you doing to make the Nashville office more high profile on a local level?
We are very competitive. We are involved in a lot of events that happen in Nashville. We serve on several committees and boards in the music business. I believe if you want the business, you have to go after the business. We initiate the calls. Being the newer one in Nashville we have to be aggressive. The company was founded in 1981 by Neil Warnock in London; however, the Nashville office is just under four years old.
Any goals for the rest of this year?
We are in the midst of growing our staff and adding to our roster. I’m fortunate to represent Chris Janson, who is rocketing up the charts as we speak. I want to see that we maximize his efforts and make sure we meet his goals — as we do with all of our clients.
DART Music has completed a raise of $1.5 million, capital that will help the Nashville-based start-up continue its focus on changing how classical musicians organize and categorize digital distribution.
DART will soon file SEC documentation for the raise, according to company officials, who told the Post their seed-stage effort is complete. Now the focus will be on product development and growth, according to CEO Chris McMurtry.
DART's goal is to create and track classical music metadata, McMurtry (pictured) said. Like one of the ongoing themes at Project Music, the company’s mission is to allow classical musicians to maximize their royalties payments. DART bills itself as the first company to offer a fully automated distribution platform for classical music metadata.
“There’s not a way for an independent creator to get their music to an online store without giving up 50 percent of their royalties,” McMurtry said. “That was the organic journey that led us to start.”
DART is a recent graduate of Project Music, a music-business accelerator the Entrepreneur Center hosts.
The company, which ranks among the accelerator’s first graduating class, is noteworthy among early-stage ventures in Nashville due partially to its current partnership and past association with Apple.
DART Chief Marketing Officer Richard Jacobson stressed the company is comfortable with it focus on classical musicians.
“I wholeheartedly believe that doing the right thing and doing the profitable thing can be the same thing,” Jacobson said of a musical genre that is often overlooked and misunderstood. “That’s why DART exists and that’s what we are going to do.”
A document filed with the Tennessee Secretary of State Office's Division of Business Services has caught our attention.
According to the document, an entity with an address of 1625 Broadway has successfully created ORB-BRO LLC. Of note, the Midtown address is home to the vintage masonry structure some folks call the Orbison Building. Thus, perhaps, the "ORB."
Also, Roy Orbison and The Everly Brothers often used the same session musicians back in the day. That might explain the "BRO" in the name.
Seemingly, this newly created LLC has a music business flavor.
Attempts to determine the specificity of ORB-BRO have proved unsuccessful to date. But we'll keep you posted if we learn more.
Executives at ABC have renewed their commitment to Nashville, giving the show a fourth season and putting it within sight of all-important syndication. The Hollywood Reporter has a rundown of all the show decisions made for ABC here.
Ryman Hospitality Properties Chairman and CEO Colin Reed hasn't been shy of late in trumpeting the great numbers put up by his company's Nashville entertainment properties, led by the Ryman Auditorium and Wildhorse Saloon. In the first quarter of this year, that division posted operating profits of $2.1 million on revenues of $16.7 million. Those numbers were up 284 percent and 17 percent, respectively, year over year.
Reed also has in recent quarters repeatedly hinted at grander plans for the division, which has been lifted big time by the overall Nashville tourism boom. But they've been teasings more than anything else and Reed delivered another one on his team's earnings conference call Wednesday morning. Asked how he would value the entertainment business relative to Ryman's core hospitality operation, Reed said he would politely say no to any bidders looking to put an arena business valuation on his entertainment crown jewel. Then came the latest tease.
"We think that this business provides and builds unique content and we're spending more of our time thinking about how we can actually build more content," Reed said.
The state budget passed last week included $8 million in incentives for a potential fourth season of local filming of the ABC show Nashville. A decision on whether the show will return should be made soon. Metro and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. are preparing their own slices of the incentives pie, but the details are still to be revealed. Nate Rau at The Tennessean has more info here.
In discussions with government officials, representatives from the show prepared a fact sheet touting its impact on the local economy. Local tourism leaders have tied the city's booming leisure travel at least in part to the popularity of "Nashville." However, no official economic impact study has been conducted.
Tullahoma-based Ascend Federal Credit Union has won the race to place its name atop the West Riverfront Park amphitheater, which will be able to hold 6,800 people and open July 30 with a concert headlined by country star Eric Church.
The deal, financial terms for which were not disclosed during an announcement event today, is for 10 years.
Ascend has $1.7 billion in assets, $943 million in loans and about 150,000 members, according to data from the National Credit Union Administration. It posted net income of $19.1 million in 2014, up from $17.1 million the year before. Nine of the organization's 18 locations are in the Nashville MSA, with its main Nashville office having opened on Charlotte Avenue in Midtown last year.
“With this amphitheater, Ascend commits to being the credit union of choice for residents of Nashville and Middle Tennessee,” said Caren Gabriel, president and CEO of Ascend. “And, because our growth objectives are similar to those of this city, we believe the Ascend Amphitheater will be pivotal in securing Nashville’s claim as the entertainment capital of the South.”
Ascend Amphitheater will this summer also host Steely Dan, Phish and ZZ Top, among others. Patrick Rodgers and Adam Gold have a lot more info on the musical side of things here.
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