Rob Light: The 2014 Billboard Power 100
NO. 9

Rob Light

Managing partner/head of music, Creative Artists Agency

While building the next generation of headliners, he saw his clients generate more than $1.8 billion in touring revenue in 2013

Along with the overall touring industry, CAA thrived in 2013, booking an estimated 27,650 shows worldwide. Among the elite tours, the agency reps twice as many artists as its closest competitor on Billboard Boxscore’s Top 25 Tours chart for 2013. CAA, which has nearly 1,200 music clients overseen by 101 agents and executives, was named top agency at the Billboard Touring Awards, and built its roster in 2013 by signing Lorde, Jeff Foxworthy and Kylie Minogue, with Lionel Richie and LeAnn Rimes returning to the agency.

When much of the industry’s stakeholders were lamenting the dearth in developing new headliners, Light was one of the few confident in regeneration, and for good reason. Among the clients that CAA has developed from supporting acts and club tours to the arena level are Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Zac Brown Band, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and One Direction, among others.

“Everyone views agents in a different light [today], because live music is such an integral part of marketing a record, an artist. Touring is so critical to the linear timeline you have to create around a release,” he says. “The industry respects how important the live part of the business is, so those people who bring an expertise to it, and a passion and understanding and a point of view, have a real place at the table. And the better you do, the more important you become to the process.”

Light is a bridge between the pioneering deal brokers of yore and the new, tech-savvy young guns tapping into an ever-growing digital toolbox. While he embraces statesman status, he’s more than clued in to the opportunities of digital and mobile platforms, and any perception that a pioneer like CAA has been less than innovative rankles him.

In a sense, the ability to build touring careers is the essence of Light’s power. “There’s nothing more exciting than being there when an artist has gone from playing a 50-seat club for $100 to headlining an arena,” he says. “And, respectfully to all my competitors, I don’t think anybody does it better than us. Great agents do that, and that’s the thrill of it.”