The music stops at major talent agency reports - International Creative Management, one of the world's largest talent agencies representing actors, writers and musicians, said it will sell its classical music division to focus on its core entertainment business. The firm's ICM Artists unit in New York will be acquired by a group of eight employees led by IMCA President and Chief Executive Officer David Foster and Executive Vice President and Managing Partner Byron Gustafson.

Discussions about a buyout began in July, and Foster said the purchase will provide more "financial independence'' and more flexibility for classical music management - "the big difference with classical music is that you spend a lot of time with immortal, creative works, whether it's Beethoven's symphonies or Verdi's operas, so the artists' careers in this field are much, much, much, much longer.''

ICMA has been a unit of Beverly Hills, California-based ICM since 1975. Its artist roster includes Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Cleveland Orchestra, conductor Marin Alsop, mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, pianist Daniel Barenboim and violinist Gidon Kremer. The classical music talent agency business has struggled in recent years as agent fees for artists have shrunk and larger firms prefer to represent more profitable acts in rock and popular music. In the past decade, classical music's share of the U.S. record market has declined to 2.4 percent last year from 3.4 percent in 1996, according to the Web site of the Recording Industry Association of America. Over the same period, total sales slipped to $12.3 billion last year from $12.5 billion in 1996.

For more on this thread take An Overgrown Path to The hidden power of the music super agents
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