On Friday, March 20, Paradigm Talent Agency announced to its staff that it would be conducting mass “temporary” layoffs as the live music industry stares down a year of uncertainty due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A source close to the situation tells Pitchfork that the layoff terms do not include severance. In addition, according to the source, laid-off employees receive just one month of health care and benefits. An internal memo written by Paradigm CEO Sam Gores and sent to employees on March 20—also viewed by Pitchfork—confirms that health care for Paradigm staffers who were laid off will end at the end of April.
In another March 20 memo, sent by Executive Vice President of Business Affairs Craig Wagner to the employees who were laid off, Paradigm estimated that the temporary layoffs will “be less than six months in duration. While an initial report in The Hollywood Reporter estimated that the anticipated layoffs numbered “a hundred or more,” which were “not expected to be confined to any specific business unit,” a report published by Billboard on March 24 cited sources that put the estimate at over 200 agents, assistants, and other staffers who lost their job in the layoffs.
A new report from Variety, published earlier today, states that agents laid off include Dave Kaplan (who represented the Black Keys and Father John Misty) and Mike Mori (who represented the 1975). It is currently unclear whether the music department was more heavily affected than others. Wagner’s March 20 memo cited “significant decrease in the Company’s revenue, including the cancellation of music and entertainment events as well as television and film production, which are the core revenue stream of the Company’s business” as reasons for the layoffs.
When reached for comment, a representative for Paradigm shared the following statement:
The COVID-19 crisis has brought much of the entertainment industry to
a virtual standstill, and Paradigm, like many companies, has had to
take immediate steps to ensure continuity of our operations. Last
week, we made the extraordinarily difficult decision to temporarily
lay off many colleagues and to enact salary cuts across the company.
It is our hope and plan to bring these colleagues back as quickly as
possible, and today, we have already begun to do so. While it is
impossible to know the depth and duration of this crisis, we remain
proud of the determination and resilience of our Paradigm team to
weather the storm and do our job representing artists.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that assistant wages were cut from $18 per hour to $9 per hour. A Paradigm representative tells Pitchfork that no employee is making less than $18 per hour.