Music City woke up to a seismic shift in the representation space following the surprise resignation of Scott Clayton from CAA and his sudden hiring at cross-town rival WME less than 72 hours later. Also exiting CAA are Buster Phillips and Mathew Morgan, although WME was unable to confirm the two men had been hired to work with Clayton.

“It’s a gigantic blow, those are the nice guys at the office,” one music city source tells Amplify. “They were like the Three Musketeers.”

Better Option Box

According to sources close to the matter, CAA’s five Nashville co-heads — Clayton, Marc Dennis, Rod Essig, John Huie and Darin Murphy — had been in negotiations for a month over the matter. When those talks didn’t lead to the outcome Clayton wanted, he surprised everyone in the Nashville office Friday afternoon with a surprise resignation and a job announcement.

Clayton will accept a position as partner and co-head of WME’s Nashville office where he will lead WME’s Rock division, shifting the genre from New York and Los Angeles to Nashville and has Clayton joining Greg Oswald, Rob Beckham, Joey Lee and Jay Williams as co-heads of WME’s Nashville office.

“Scott is unquestionably one of the most respected executives in the live music industry, having identified and worked with many great rock artists,” explains WME’s head of music Marc Geiger in a statement provided to Billboard.  “We are seeing many different genres of music thriving out of Nashville right now, and with Scott’s addition we are in a great position to take advantage of the market opportunities available to us.”

End of an Era Big