Though you may not nerd out enough about country music to wonder how your favorite Texas/Red Dirt artists end up playing at your local watering hole or wind up on a festival lineup, it’s a very big part to how an artist or band either makes it breaks it in the music business, especially these days when so much of the money must be made on the road.
For going on a dozen years now, when it came to country artists from Texas and Oklahoma, Red 11 was the agency that made it happen for many of your favorite performers, from the Turnpike Troubadours, to Mike and the Moonpies, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Cody Canada and the Departed, Jack Ingram, Jason Eady, and so on and so forth.
The Red 11 roster also went outside of Texas/Red Dirt as well, but with artists that would ultimately become part of the greater Texoma scene through the booking agency. This includes North Carolina’s American Aquarium, Kentucky’s Chris Knight, and Alabama’s Muscadine Bloodline. Red 11 is very much the reason many of these artists and bands were able to “make it” by touring the country to play venues and events big and small.
Now after months of murmurs, it was made official on Friday, April 14th that Red 11 has been acquired by live booking juggernaut WME, a.k.a. William Morris Endeavor. Far and away, WME is the biggest representative of musical talent—or really any live talent—in the world.
So what does this mean for the artists on the Red 11 roster, and ultimately, you and your little music world? Well, it certain puts even more eggs in one basket, which when it comes to the corporate world, can render one a little worried. But it also opens up Red 11’s roster to way more booking opportunities than they had before.
For example, whenever a massive performer is looking to book opening acts, there is an incentive to book those acts in-house from the talent pool on their own booking agency. This might mean that performers like Mike and the Moonpies or up-and-comers like Joshua Ray Walker and Pony Bradshaw get bigger opening gigs going forward.
It also might open these acts up to bigger festivals and events they previous had a harder time getting involved with. Often festivals like to work with certain agencies when booking their lineups, and a company like WME can request up-and-comers on their roster come with booking the bigger acts.
As Red 11 Music Founder & CEO Jon Folk says, “We’re thrilled to be joining WME and the incredible resources and expertise they bring to the table. Our clients can expect even greater levels of service and opportunity in this exciting new chapter.”
There may be a worry that these artists could lose a little bit of the boutique nature of their booking business by migrating to the bigger company, but not necessarily. Red 11’s staff is migrating to WME too, and each individual artist has a dedicated rep or team of reps working toward their best interests.
The fact that WME wanted to acquire Red 11 also speaks to the increasing value in an independent country roster like Red 11’s, and the growth in independent music overall. With the Turnpike Troubadours playing arenas and headlining festivals now, there’s nothing “boutique” about what Red 11 was doing. They were running with the big dogs already.
“We have long-admired Jon and the business he has built with Red 11,” says WME’s Nashville office Co-Heads Becky Gardenhire, Joey Lee and Jay Williams. “Jon and his team have a proven track record of success, and we look forward to working with them to grow the Americana genre even further. We are excited to welcome Red 11’s clients to WME and connect them to our portfolio of industry best assets and capabilities.”
Red 11’s Current Roster:
Cody Canada and The Departed
David Beck’s Tejano Weekend
Giovannie & The Hired Guns
Grady Spencer & The Work
Jason Boland & The Stragglers
Joshua Ray Walker
Kyle Nix & The 38’s
Micky and The Motorcars
Mike and the Moonpies
Quaker City Night Hawks
Them Dirty Roses