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UTA acquires U.K.-based Echo Location Talent Agency, expands music roster

Echo Location Talent Agency founder Obi Asika
Echo Location Talent Agency’s founder Obi Asika. Asika will become co-head of UTA’s U.K. office.
(United Talent Agency)

United Talent Agency on Wednesday said it acquired London-based Echo Location Talent Agency, expanding its client roster to include popular electronic music artists Marshmello and Diplo.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Echo represents hundreds of electronic and hip-hop music artists.

On Wednesday, Beverly Hills-based UTA initially named more than 20 of Echo’s artists, including Bugzy Malone and Alesso, that will join its international roster “among many others.” UTA represents music artists including Bad Bunny, the Jonas Brothers and deadmau5.

Echo was founded in 2012 by Obi Asika. Through the acquisition, close to 10 agents will join UTA. Asika will co-head UTA’s U.K. office with UTA’s Neil Warnock.

Talent agencies are under growing pressure to raise capital to finance growth at time of rapid changes in the media industry. The rise of streaming and expected decline of TV packaging, combined with the effects of a longstanding boycott by Writers Guild of America, have put the squeeze on talent agencies, some of which have laid off workers.

UTA Chief Executive Jeremy Zimmer said Asika is a highly respected leader in the music industry.

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“Obi and his team have built an impressive business and have done excellent work taking their artists to the next level,” Zimmer said in a statement. “This acquisition further amplifies our efforts to expand UTA’s presence, and I know that alongside Neil, Obi’s leadership, drive, and passion will be a vital addition not only to the U.K. office, but for UTA at large.”

Asika said that over the years, his company has been approached by several suitors, adding that “UTA’s strength, ingenuity and true commitment to their artists really stood out.”

It’s not that Diplo doesn’t like Kanye West and Lil Pump’s ultra-lewd hip-hop hit in which the two rappers enthusiastically describe a woman’s sexual appetite.

UTA, like other agencies, has acquired companies to increase its presence globally. In 2018, UTA acquired Circle Talent Agency, a significant move in the electronic music space. Other recent acquisitions include influencer management firm Digital Brand Architects in 2019. UTA has more than 1,000 employees.

Several agencies are expanding into areas such as sports and music as the studios consolidate and change the way they compensate artists.

The agency said that the deal would allow it to keep its ownership stake in its production company and that it had agreed to phase out packaging.

UTA, along with other agencies, had been in a long-running dispute with the Writers Guild of America, where thousands of writers fired their agents in April 2019. Last year, UTA reached an agreement with the union to end the practice of packaging — when agencies collect fees from studios for pulling together talent after a project is sold — by the end of June 2022.


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