Phil Quist, Music Agent, CAA
CAA agent Phil Quist is a prime example of what can happen if you conquer fears. Mustering up the courage to leave the finance industry to pursue a career in music has been his greatest accomplishment, he says. From pushing numbers to working with “incredible talent and helping them achieve their lifelong dreams,” Quist has made the right choice. The number of awesome acts he represents – Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Tate McRae, Charli XCX, Lil Miquela, R3HAB, Audrey Mika and Maggie Lindemann, among others – are testament to that.
Quist notes two traits that can help to weather any crisis. The first is flexibility in dealing with the immediate situation. In absence of physical live concerts, Quist and his colleague Akin Aliu helped lead CAA’s virtual and livestream events taskforce, which collectively was able to bring in over nine figures in offers to clients who had unexpectedly lost their touring revenue for the year. The same trait was also displayed by CAA’s leadership, which created flexible plans for their employees and led with compassion. “That has made it easier for everyone else to cope with these uncertain times,” Quist says.
The second trait is innovation, which has been “both a vaccine against market slowdowns, and an elixir that will rejuvenate growth, for example with livestreams, virtual concerts and drive-in shows.” The focus on creating engaging online content in a time without physical gatherings has further broken down the barriers between artists and fans, Quist says, which could be “the beginning stages of a switch from fans having a parasocial relationship with their artists to being truly connected, which inevitably will enhance true fandom.”
The forced downtime has also created unprecedented pent-up demand for live experiences, leading Quist to a bold prediction. Provided the economy as a whole remains stable, “2022 will likely be one of the biggest years for live touring in history,” he says. At this point, he doesn’t even care which band he’ll go see first, once it’s allowed again.
“Honestly, anyone,” he says, “after over a year of no shows and as someone who loves music, I’m just ready for some live music.”
He certainly wouldn’t mind if it were Tate McRae or 3LAU, though.
The former has exploded during the pandemic, and recently earned her first top spot on the Mediabase pop radio airplay chart with “you broke me first” – and she’s only 17. “We think the sky is the limit once she’s able to get out on the road,” says Quist.
The latter is “obviously a great artist, but beyond that, he is one of the smartest people I have come across, and he is going to revolutionize the business side of music in the near future.”
The business philosophy you live by?
Focus on collecting knowledge, but focus more on collecting knowledgeable people.” – Continually striving to gain more experience and knowledge is core to who I am, but at the end of the day, you are only as good as the people you are surrounded with. If you surround yourself with smart people who have the same common goals, much can be achieved, and that’s something that’s omnipresent in my current role.
Which music artist or band has most helped you get through this year?
I truly admire all the countless artists that participated in events during the pandemic to raise money for COVID-relief, as well as save live music. Music is ubiquitous and many artists are cultural icons to people from all over the world, so I’m sure those gestures helped many.
The artist you would most like to see live when touring and festivals return?
Honestly, anyone. After over a year of no shows and as someone who loves music, I’m just ready for some live music.
When it’s safe to do so, will you go back to the office, work remotely or a combination of both? Why?
Personally, I am excited to be back in the office. There’s an infectious energy in the office that permeates, and as someone who works with different departments within the building, it’s nice to be able to see colleagues outside of music. That being said, the past year has proven that we can be just as, if not more, productive working from home as we are working in the office, so I think that some sort of combination would be best.
Artists to watch breaking next year?
It’s hard to pick just one, but keep Tate McRae on your radar. At only 17, she has exploded during the pandemic basically from her bedroom and recently hit #1 at pop radio, so we think the sky is the limit once she’s able to get out on the road. The team around her is incredible as well, from my internal partners, to her parents, managers, label, etc.
3LAU is another one to keep an eye on, but in a different way. He’s obviously a great artist, but beyond that, he is one of the smartest people I have come across, and he is going to revolutionize the business side of music in the near future.
How do you think livestreaming will or won’t be integrated into your business going forward?
I think livestreaming will definitely be integrated into our business going forward. In today’s world that is becoming more and more digital, fans want to grow with and support their favorite artists without the constraints of geography.
Livestreams will obviously never replace the feeling of being at a concert or festival. However, if it scales and communities are able to be created in the medium, I could see livestreaming as a bridge between simply listening to music on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. and an artist’s live show, which will ultimately lead to enhanced fandom. Livestreams enables an artist to touch every corner of the globe, and allow artists to build fanbases early on in secondary and tertiary markets without having to hit the road.
Your favorite music documentary – recent or old?
“Quincy.” Quincy Jones’ career is so expansive and is paints such a holistic picture of him as a music icon.
Zoom, Clubhouse or TikTok? Why?
All three for different purposes. Zoom to connect with people, Clubhouse to learn about certain topics, and TikTok to stay on top of Gen Z and Millennial culture.