Artist managers and music industry entrepreneurs Rich Egan and Dirk Hemsath have merged their companies, Hard 8 and Working Group, respectively, to create The Hard 8 Working Group.
With over 400 releases and dozens of artists between their labels and management companies, Egan and Hemsath’s artists have sold a combined 12 million-plus albums, tens of millions of singles, have been streamed several billion times and performed myriad sold-out shows around the world.
"Dirk and I go back 20 years and have always shared a mutual respect, trust and work ethic, even when we were on opposite sides of a negotiation,” says Egan, who founded Vagrant Records in 1994, sold it to Interscope, bought it back and then sold it again to BMG last year. “It’s ironic that two punk rock kids ended up in Nashville together working with such an eclectic roster, but Dirk and I speak a common language. We do things that make sense to us and for our artists - and that isn't a genre specific approach. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of this new company.”
The newly expanded management roster includes Cheat Codes, who are blanketing radio with two hits - Top 10 pop single “No Promises” featuring Demi Lovato, and the recently released “Feels Great,” featuring Fetty Wap and CVBZ; multi-platinum-selling country artist Brantley Gilbert, who’s following up his sold-out summer amphitheater tour with a just-announced headlining arena run, Dashboard Confessional, who are gearing up for the much-anticipated release of their first album in nine years; Billie Eilish, the current Apple Music UP NEXT artist who’s playing sold-out shows around the world, and R&B breakout artist R.LUM.R, recently dubbed “An Artist You Need To Know” by Rolling Stone. He’s drawn praise from NPR, New York Times and Complex, thanks to his hit, “Frustrated,” which has over 25 million streams on Spotify and is currently top 10 at Urban radio.
“Inspired by our love of music, Rich and I both started labels as teenagers and grew them into successful companies that provided an outlet for artists and music that changed culture,” says Hemsath. “We both went into management at different times for the same reasons: to be passionate advocates for artists’ rights, work and their business. Rich is a true artist advocate and I can’t wait for what we will do together.”
In addition to a new publishing division, The Hard 8 Working Group will include Egan’s Folsom Records, which originally started as a vinyl only label and has been home to releases from Rise Against and Face To Face and will re-release Dan Layus’ critically acclaimed debut album.
The company will also include a new label division headed up by A&R wunderkind and management partner David Conway. "The freedom they give me to chase my passion—which is finding great songs and pairing up the right artists—is unreal,” says Conway.
“Conway started with me as a Doghouse intern and 15 years later continues to be a brilliant A&R and marketing asset with multiple Gold and Platinum songs to his credit (including Cheat Codes’ “No Promises” featuring Demi Lovato),” says Hemsath. “His sense of how to put songs together with artists, writers and producers and then market them is incredible.”
As Hemsath’s Doghouse Records celebrates its 30-year anniversary in 2018, it will continue to focus on its expansive catalog, which includes releases from All-American Rejects and Say Anything, among many more.
Industry vet Laura Bender will serve as GM of both the management side and the labels and will take an active role in the greatly expanded venture. "I moved from New York to work with Rich because his passion is contagious—he goes all in on his artists and their music and is constantly bringing new ideas to the table. I was ecstatic when he told me that Dirk and his team were joining the family.”
Artist managers Danny Rukasin, Mike Bachta, Aarron Keiser, Brandon Goodman, Sean Sheahan, Andy Stanley, Spencer Kelley, Emily Hemsath and Nick Meyers are joined by staffers Michael Schneider and Patrick Maxwell at the company.
As staunch Nashville supporters committed to reinvesting in the thriving city, Egan and Hemsath will move their 15-person company into their new downtown building in January of 2018. They’ll maintain a satellite office in Los Angeles.