A West Hollywood talent agency is plotting a new direction — both in how it handles the current standoff between writers and talent agents, and in who it represents.
Abrams Artists Agency announced at the end of May that it signed six new clients, five of whom made their names playing esports or hosting programs dedicated to competitive video gaming.
Abrams’ esports strategy differs from that of the larger talent agencies, which jumped on the esports bandwagon by working with boutique agencies with existing esports rosters rather than pursuing individual clients.
Century City-headquartered ICM Partners — one of the big four talent agencies alongside Creative Artists Agency, WME and United Talent Agency — moved into esports in June 2018 by announcing a partnership with Evolved Talent Agency, which focuses on esports.
In July, United Talent Agency acquired esports-driven talent agencies Press X Agency and Everyday Influencers.
Abrams lacks the scale of the big four agencies. It has 34 agents in the county, according to Business Journal research, while United Talent Agency has 325 agents.
Abrams Chairman Adam Bold said the agency is tapping into promising parts of the esports markets that complement other areas of its business.
“There’s a lot of crossover,” Bold said, citing as one example that an esports player might also book voiceover work. “We are very methodically investing in the parts of the business that we think have the potential to double in the next three to five years.”
Abrams started taking esports clients two years ago, Bold said, and currently has two dozen clients involved in video games.
The clients signed in May include channels P2istheName, which creates videos on Epic Games Inc.’s “Fortnite”; Datto, which produces news about the game “Destiny”; and ReviewTechUSA, a humorous channel that produces esports news and reviews.
Another new client is Ewok TTV, a “Fortnite” gamer who has her own channel on Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch. (Abrams declined to provide her real name.) Veteran actor Jason Mewes, who livestreams his “Fortnite” gameplay from his Facebook page, is also joining Abrams.
The esports signings come shortly after Abrams changed hands in September. Harry Abrams, who founded the company in 1977, sold it to longtime company executives Robert Attermann and Brian Cho.
The new owners made headlines in March when a memo was leaked that Abrams planned to remain neutral in a standoff between talent agencies and screenwriters. The dispute triggered writers organized under the Writers Guild of America to fire all their agents in April.
The March memo had said the Association of Talent Agents, which represents the talent agencies, was more concerned with the big four shops than boutique outfits including Abrams.
But Bold also made clear more recently that Abrams is not signing a code of conduct the Guild has proposed to agents and that he wants the two sides back at the bargaining table.
Negotiations between the writers and the Association of Talent Agents were slated to resume June 7.
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