CAA Music Turns 35: A Look Back
Digging deep into the history of the agency co-founded by Michael Ovitz, Ron Meyer, Bill Haber, Michael Rosenfeld and Rowland Perkins, the two reporters talked with all the heavy-hitters of the music department, including Rob Light, Darryl Eaton, Mitch Rose and Rick Roskin, the co-chiefs of contemporary music for North America. Artists represented by CAA generated nearly $5 billion in revenue, CAA told Billboard.
The division has 190 clients including Ed Sheeran, Bon Jovi, Fleetwood Mac, twenty one pilots, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, and Justin Bieber. Light credited the division’s success to an atmosphere of collaboration.
“There’s no CAA without all these people who are hungry and inspired,” said Light, who joined CAA in 1984 and has run the department for 20 years. “I’ve just been blessed to sit in this chair.”
Rose said the talent of the division’s agents goes deeper than senior staff. “If you’re a baseball fan, the 1927 Yankees were the greatest team of all time. From the leadoff hitter to the ninth, everybody was a superstar,” Rose told the trade magazine. “I often compare us to the ’27 Yankees.”
Said Eaton: “The bit that two brains are better than one is absolutely true, [and] we’ve got 19 brains on any project. Yes, you will have a point person that’s quarterbacking the team. But we bring the group mentality to really push the client’s game [forward].”
Added Roskin: “Our culture separates us from our competition. We practice what we preach, we share information, we share intelligence. And ultimately, we’re passionate, we’re tenacious, and we bring all this energy to work on behalf of the artists that we represent.”
Billboard also spoke to Tom Ross, who founded the division after coming from rival ICM. He said that Ovitz “taught me more than I had known and thought of in 20 years [at ICM]” and that “The model of how CAA would ‘gang-tackle’ clients and overwhelm them [with ideas and support] was pretty fascinating,”
The article goes into depth about how Ross and Light formed the division and how they quickly got rid of the monkey suits.
“Martha Davis from The Motels comes in [for] a pitch meeting,” Light remembered. “After about 15 minutes, she says, ‘You guys look so uncomfortable. I can’t be with a guy who wears suits and ties. You’re in the rock business.’ Tom grabs her hand and walks her down the hallway to Mike Ovitz. She says, ‘I can’t sign with anybody in a suit and tie. These guys are rock agents, they need to look like rock agents.’ [That was the] last time we ever wore a suit and tie.”
That’s not all: the extraordinarily researched article includes detailed sections on CAA International, CAA Nashville and “Women at CAA,” and Billboard spoke to luminaries like John Huie, Marc Dennis, Mike Greek, Chris Dalston, Carole Kinzel, Jenna Adler, Nat Farnham and Jeff Krones, among many others. It also lists the “CAA Power Players.”
The full article is available here.