Krannert's 'music man'
When asked about his job, John Branigan modestly says he books concert tours for rock bands. But as senior vice president of the contemporary music department for the William Morris Agency (WMA) in Beverly Hills, California, the Krannert alumnus has emerged as one of the most prominent agents in the industry.
Representing such diverse artists as the Eagles, Simon and Garfunkel, Tool, Godsmack, Bob Weir and Ratdog, Goo Goo Dolls, Scott Stapp, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and the Professional Bull Riders Association (PBR), among many others, Branigan is regarded by his peers and clients as a respected, hands-on agent. He has been nominated three times as “Agent of the Year” by Pollstar Magazine.
“What’s most satisfying to me is helping bands and the people who listen to them, whether it’s in a small club or a large arena,” Branigan said. “It’s rewarding to know that I help facilitate that experience.”
Branigan’s interest in music first emerged during his teen years in New Jersey. An avid concertgoer, he formed band his own band during high school. “I was the business guy — booking the dates, advancing the shows, issuing contracts, and collecting deposits,” he said. “I didn’t realize until later there was an entire industry built around those things.”
Although his career is now turned up to full volume, Branigan’s professional life began somewhat quietly. He returned to the east coast after earning his BSM from Purdue in 1983, eventually finding work in the marketing department at the Sands Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. “I just wanted to get into the business,” he said.
Using the contacts he developed at the Sands, Branigan made the move to Los Angeles in 1988 to take a job in the mailroom at Triad Artists, which later merged with WMA. Despite some initial resistance, he soon moved up through the ranks to become an agent, and has been with the firm ever since.
During his recent visit to campus, Branigan encouraged current Krannert students act with the same tenacity and dedication. “You create your own luck through hard work and integrity,” Branigan said. “There is always a way.”
— Eric Nelson