ICM Agency Sells Its ICM Artists Division to Newsweb

Classic Arts News   ICM Agency Sells Its ICM Artists Division to Newsweb
International Creative Management has sold ICM Artists, its classical music and performing arts subsidiary, to concentrate on its more profitable entertainment division, the company announced yesterday.

ICM Artists is being purchased by David Foster, the president and CEO of the division, and Byron Gustafson, its executive vice president and managing partner. Some of the financing is coming from Newsweb Artists LLC, an affiliate of the Chicago-based media company Newsweb Corp. ICM Artists employees Patricia Winter, Neil Benson, Jonathan Brill, MaryPat Buerkle, Jason Bagdade and Caroline Woodfield are also participating in the venture, according to Bloomberg News.

ICM Artists will retain its name during the transition period; a new name will be announced at a later date.

The New York-based ICM Artists has been a subsidiary of ICM since 1976. It represents a wide roster of the world's leading classical instrumentalists, conductors and vocalists; it also manages the touring activities of prestigious orchestras, dance companies and other performing ensembles.

ICMA's client roster (which includes, among others, pianists Emanuel Ax and Radu Lupu; conductors Daniel Barenboim and Mariss Jansons and violinists Gidon Kremer and Midori, as well as too many top singers, instrumentalists and orchestras to list here) will remain the same following the sale, as will the staff and executive structure.

Businessman Fred Eychaner founded Newsweb in 1971. Eychaner, whom Crain's Chicago Business calls "the most powerful individual part of the city's media money machine," owns nine local radio stations and the presses that print the Chicago Reader and dozens of foreign-language papers in the city.

Regarding the sale, Richard B. Levy, ICM's chief business development officer and general counsel, said in a statement, "ICM [recently] stated that it intends to grow in four core areas: film, television, publishing and popular music. Selling ICMA is consistent with the progression of our strategic plan."

Kathryn Takach, president of Thea Dispeker Management Inc. in New York, an artist management firm founded in 1947 that represents classical artists such as conductor Bernard Labadie and tenor Allan Glassman, told Bloomberg News that the ICM Artists sale "represents another sad day" for classical music. The fact that ICMA is not profitable to ICM — even though it represents some of the most important and famous musicians in the world — shows how difficult and unprofitable this business is compared to its movie or sports businesses."

Classical music's profile in the American recording marketplace has slipped over the past decade; from 3.4 percent in 1996 to 2.4 percent last year, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, although the genre's share of the market in music downloads is somewhat higher.

The terms of the ICM Artists sale were not disclosed.

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