Mitch Rose, Co-Head of Contemporary Music for North America, CAA

Mitch Rose
– Mitch Rose

The Caretakers

Executives making the right moves to keep careers, companies, shows, the business, rolling. Operators as opposed to architects.

Mitch Rose
Co-Head of Contemporary Music for North America, CAA

L.A. native and industry vet Mitch Rose was an assistant in CAA’s TV department when Michael Ovitz planned to start a music division 35 years ago. A lifelong rock concertgoer, Rose begged Ovitz to let him become its first-ever agent trainee, even before Tom Ross came aboard for its official launch.  

Rose, who now co-heads the company’s music division with longtime colleagues Darryl Eaton and Rick Roskin, has referred to CAA’s star-filled music lineup – which includes Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan – as “the equivalent of the 1927 Yankees,” a reference to the World Series-winning baseball team that counted Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and more among its ranks.

But Mitch Rose isn’t all about nostalgia. “There are so many great new things happening right now,” he insists, pointing to developing artists like recent “Saturday Night Live” musical guest Maggie Rogers – the agency placed seven of nine musical guests on the show during one stretch this season – and singer/rapper Anderson .Paak, whose current headlining tour will take him to venues including Madison Square Garden and Red Rocks Amphitheatre and features support from Thundercat, Noname, Mac DeMarco, Earl Sweatshirt and Jessie Reyez. He also cites YouTube-fueled singer Conan Grey.

“Those are the things that really inspire me because in each case, these acts have broken from touring, not radio, records nor mainstream media,” Rose says. “Acts can break these days quicker and bigger than ever without a hit song. It’s a great thing for an agent to be involved with.” 

CAA’s clout was evident last year, when managing partner Bryan Lourd convinced film client Bradley Cooper to meet with Lady Gaga, which led him to cast her in the starring role that yielded box office and Oscar gold in “A Star Is Born.” 

“If [the meeting] doesn’t happen, she never would have gotten the part,” claims Rose.

Hot Takes

On modern technology:  

Word-of-mouth has never been more important. You have all these breaking acts that have no pop radio airplay in the traditional sense. It’s like the old telephone game — someone telling someone telling someone else. And it translates into real business.

On getting into the concert business: 

When I first learned to be an agent, I had no idea how complicated it was, how much hard work and how many hours I would have to commit to it. For someone who has zero musical talent, I’ve always been enraptured seeing an artist perform on-stage. If I couldn’t be the shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers, I wanted to be a rock star. For someone with no discernible musical talent, working with them was a dream come true.

On his first-ever concert: 

My grandmother used to take my older brother and I away every year.  When I was 10 years old, she took us to Hawaii. and we saw Don Ho and the Young Rascals in Honolulu.  I had not idea who either of them were, though I did know ‘Tiny Bubbles.’ I eventually became a huge Young Rascals fan.

On the live concert business moving forward: 

The great thing about the live experience is it can’t be replicated… it can’t be ripped.  Seeing the Bruce Springsteen special on Netflix is not like seeing it live.  We don’t know what the next iteration of the live show will be, where the acts are going and how they’ll monetize it., how they’ll fight off the secondary market.  Certainly residencies are one way to go.