ROB LIGHT, 58
PARTNER/MANAGING DIRECTOR/HEAD of MUSIC, CREATIVE ARTISTS AGENCY
Last Year’s Rank: 9
“The days of me screaming over a stagehand bill” are long gone, says the famously energetic Light, whose 115 agents and executives in CAA’s music division generated $3.4 billion in worldwide touring revenue in 2015, according to the agency. These days, notes the married father of five, “trying to break Twenty One Pilots or reinvent Justin Bieber takes real strategy.”
What are you most proud of accomplishing in 2015?
First, having a number of the top tours, with One Direction, AC/DC, Katy Perry, Fleetwood Mac, James Taylor and Bette Midler. Second, the number of breakout new artists who are really starting to sell tickets: Brantley Gilbert, Sam Hunt, Meghan Trainor, Leon Bridges and Tori Kelly.
Are you as aggressive in business as you once were?
I’ve never fought harder. I’m the first one in the office in the morning, last one to leave, and I still get the question, “How do you cover so many shows?” But I also have been much more aggressive in empowering my people. I’m not going anywhere, but delegating has freed me up to do so many other things, whether it’s signing Ariana Grande or helping convince Lana Del Rey to do an amphitheater tour.
How do you think live-music executives fare on the Power 100?
A lot of people think it should be all label presidents or publishers because they “move the needle.” But more money is coming out of the live business than anywhere else. When I look at the year’s top breakout artists, it was because of touring. Live really is where the music business is right now.