Rob Light, Head of Music, Partner, and Managing Director, CAA

Rob Light

In His Own Words: Covid — What Did I Learn?

Rob Light
Head of Music, Partner, and Managing Director, CAA  

Sixteen months ago, coming out of Grammy season and an amazing Super Bowl Halftime Show by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, we were looking at the biggest year for CAA Music in its 37-year history.

The industry was stronger than ever with streaming and social media creating new avenues for artist engagement, and touring was still the lifeline of artist development and revenue. The biggest touring artists of all time continued to dominate ticket sales, while anew generation of headliners was emerging with all the excitement that brings. The walls between genres were breaking down and our company never felt more together and more focused.


– Rob Light, aged 18 in 1975

We thought for maybe a couple of months, but it soon became apparent that this was going to last a long time, and the touring industry, artists, promoters, agents, road crews, and all the locals who run venues big and small were going to be sidelined for a long time. I thought back to August 1975. I was 18 years old, walking out of a Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band show at the BottomLine. That was the night I knew I’d have to be a part of this world.

I realized that there was nothing that moves people, touches people,and inspires people like a live music experience. Now, 15 months into the pandemic – the longest period in my adult life without a live show – I reflect back on what this “break” has taught or at least reminded me…

That your company, your team, your partners and the artists you work for are your family. In really tough times, your optimism, your empathy, your compassion and your vision becomes more critical than ever. This is easy in success, but it tests you in every way in times of challenge.

You quickly understand (what you knew in your heart) that the leadership of a company is critical. NOT leadership because of a title, but leadership in terms of genuinely understanding what people need in tough times. So many of my colleagues inspired me – from those who “run” the day-to-day business, to all those across the department who were patient and smart, who mentored, supported, reached out, embraced and JUST TOOK THE TIME TO LISTEN. It reminded me what my partner Richard Lovett has always said, “To lead is to serve.” It was refreshing and exhilarating to know how many of the talented people I work with stepped up when times were tough.

That the health (mental and physical) of our staff is and always was critically important.

That as we move forward, the health and safety of our people and the fans on the road are critically important.

That adversity opens the door to opportunity and with patience, vision, and stability we were able to weather the storm better and stronger than most.

That this time allowed us to make new friends, have longer and deeper conversations, and create new bonds.

That the true friendships our industry has allowed us to make – second only to the music – is one of the greatest gifts of working in this industry. That our job is to help inspire our clients with ideas, and opportunities, such as those in streaming, books, podcasts, virtual concerts, endorsements, and private events. We needed to fill the holes and help keep the creative juices of artists flowing.

That the connection between artist and audience is richest when it is locked in and bonded in a live setting. The shared experience of an audience and the artist is one of the most compelling moments in our industry, and to play a part in building that bond is priceless. That music is the true universal language. It heals, it unites, it reveals, and it teaches.

We all need to be open to those messages.

Rob Light’s actual ticket stub for Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band at the Bottom Line on Aug. 15, 1975.

I walked out of the Bottom Line 45 years ago wanting to work in “LIVE.” I didn’t do it for the money, or the access, or to be around the fame and power. I did it because I love MUSIC, live music, and the people it allows you to meet, befriend, and grow with.

The last 15 months were about making sure everyone who is a part of our CAA family, as well as our industry, held onto that LOVE. I hoped that they would also hold onto all those friendships and keep looking forward, knowing that at the end of this pandemic, our industry would be healthier and more inspiring than ever in its history. I cannot wait to feel 18 again, and walk out of venues feeling like that kid, who just HAD to work in this industry.

See you on the road!