In the May issue of The Strad, out this week, I discuss the turbulent state of classical management, where personnel changes and recessional panics have caused a series of personnel upheavals. The latest, announced today, involves severe cutbacks at the world’s largest classical agency, the monolithic and secretive Columbia Artists Management Inc, known as CAMI.
Cami’s president and largest stakeholder, Ronald Wilford, is 82 and he’s not stepping down any time soon. It’s the lower echelons that have been under-performing. Concert fees are down by an average 15 percent and that means agency commissions are taking a hit, so a whole load of artist managers are heading out the door.
IMG Artists, the second largest agency, is in all sorts of trouble since its owner, Barrett Wissman, pleaded guilty to securities fraud in a New York state investigation.
In London, agents and artist are playing musical chairs through fast-revolving doors. Gustavo Dudamel has switched homes and more stars are considering their options.
It’s too early to start listing winners and losers but the music business is going to look very different a year or two from now. I have some ideas as to how attists can protect their careers, but I confide them for the moment only to those who read The Strad in print. These are, for many players, the most private matters in their lives.