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HARD 8 AND WORKING GROUP BECOME ONE

Rich Egan’s Hard 8 and Dirk Hemsath’s Working Group are joining forces to form the Nashville-based Hard 8 Working Group.

The management roster of the combined company—which will also have label and publishing divisions—includes Michelle Branch, Cheat Codes (who have the big hit, “No Promises” with Demi Lovato), Brantley Gilbert (who’s following up his sold-out summer shed tour with a just-announced headlining arena run), Dashboard Confessional (who are prepping their first album in nine years), Billie Eilish and R.LUM.R

The combined management roster includes Cheat Codes, who have two hits at radio in “No Promises” f/Demi Lovato and “Feels Great” f/Fetty Wap & CVBZ; Brantley Gilbert,; Dashboard Confessional,; Billie Eilish, the current Apple Music UP NEXT artist; and R.LUM.R, whose “Frustrated” which has 25m+ streams on Spotify and is Top 10 at Urban radio.

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. 

"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.”

“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.”

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,” she says, “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.”

The Hard 8 Working Group will include Egan’s Folsom Records, which has released records from Rise Against and Face to Face and will reissue Dan Layus’ debut album.

The company will also include a new label division headed up by A&R specialist 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 'No Promises'],” 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 nears its 30th anniversary in 2018, it will continue to focus on its expansive catalog, which includes releases from All-American Rejects and Say Anything.

Egan and Hemsath will move their 15-person company into their new downtown building in January. They’ll maintain a satellite office in Los Angeles.

Photo by Macy Laurel

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