Robert Norman joined CAA in 1999 when Rob Light, now CAA’s head of music and a 2019 Impact 50 honoree, asked him to head up the agency’s new Private Events Division.
“His goal was to make it the best in the business. He didn’t try to micromanage ever. He encouraged me to have a one-on-one with every manager and artist. Very unique for those times and that was a lot of faith,” recalls Norman. “It’s something I still try to do within our group. More than 21 years later, our little team of myself, Jeff Gregg, Janet Kim, Bradlee Banbury and Guy Howes books more than 800 private events a year and we get to work with some of the coolest artists in the business. What’s not to love in that?”
Norman has been instrumental in building an engine that impacts the bottom line of many artists. (CAA wouldn’t confirm which acts it books for private events, but reportedly represents Sting, John Fogerty, Jennifer Hudson, OneRepublic and Trevor Noah.)
“Back in March, after dealing with hundreds of postponements and cancellations of live shows and bookings, we shifted quickly into booking virtual events and thankfully we’ve booked dozens of those,” he says. “The quality of artist content is improving rapidly, as are expectations, and I certainly know much more about the tech of streaming platforms than I did a few months ago.”
With circumstances changing almost daily, all professionals working in this business are required to be creative and nimble. Norman’s team is looking at various models for drive-in shows and how those might work better, and he’s seen some “mind-blowing” VR and AR presentations.
“Like every other agent, I came home with a pile of booked events and tours that had to be sorted out,” Norman says. “Looking back, working through those, I felt most of the time we were all in this problem together. In sometimes impossible situations we all tried to arrive at the best possible solutions for the artists and buyers. It wasn’t always easy, but there was and is some sense of community in all this.”