ROB LIGHT, 59
Partner/managing director/head of music, Creative Artists Agency
DARRYL EATON, 51
MITCH ROSE, 59
RICK ROSKIN, 51
Co-heads of contemporary music for North America, CAA
Last Year’s Rank: 9
Light, a fixture on any given weeknight at Los Angeles venues big and small, describes his position as head of music at market-leading CAA (he’s been with the company for 33 years) as “not work.” But as the man who oversees some 126 agents and executives and a roster that boasts three of the highest grossing acts in live music — Beyoncé ($256 million), Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band ($255 million) and Justin Bieber ($159 million) — his role is an essential one to the vibrancy of the touring sector, where CAA’s slice of worldwide revenues equaled $4.6 billion in 2016.
“It’s an exciting time in that live music resonates with every demo,” says the married father of five. “The baby boomers who grew up on concerts are as rabid as ever, so you have tours like Sting, Stevie Nicks and the Pretenders, Springsteen … even James Taylor is selling out stadiums. Hip-hop has developed into a real live entity, where 20 years ago, it wasn’t perceived as such. And don’t dismiss rock, with Blink-182 being one of the biggest tours of the year, and Black Sabbath and Metallica doing strong numbers.”
Pop also had a tremendous year. “It’s really impactful and the fans stay loyal much longer,” Light explains. “Thanks to social media, you’re invested: If you were a 16-year-old One Direction fan, you’ll be a 21-year-old who loves Harry Styles or Niall Horan. Ed Sheeran, who we represent around the world, is a pop act and his influence and power is immense.” Factor in streaming and “pop is not disposable as it used to be perceived,” Light adds.
Indeed, the popularity of subscription services has only opened the door to discovery, which bodes well for the future of the agency business as it looks at an act’s touring career in the long-term (worth noting: attendance figures reported to Billboard Boxscore increased by more than 30 percent globally in 2016). As an example, Light cites 21 Pilots. “They did festivals strategically, got the right slot and crushed it,” he says of the Ohio duo. Three years ago, Light was one of 200 to see the band downstairs at Webster Hall for their first New York show. “Last year, they headlined Madison Square Garden,” he says. “Backstage, I thought, ‘This is why you do this.’ Do I love the drama of the competition, the fights between agencies and the promoters? No. But when you can see a cool band and feel like you discovered something, that’s what it’s all about.”
Essential to the contemporary music division’s success are Eaton, who built the agency’s EDM business, which hit the jackpot with The Chainsmokers; Rose, who oversaw Little Mix’s U.S. tour with Ariana Grande; and Roskin, who co-orchestrated both the Prophets of Rage tour and Eric Clapton‘s big-ticket 2017 residencies in Los Angeles and New York.