2024 Impact 50 Honoree: Debra Rathwell

EVP of Global Touring & Talent
AEG Presents

FIRST JOB IN LIVE: Executive assistant at Harvey Glatt’s Bass Clef
Patti-Anne Tarlton interned for her.


Her Pollstar Impact 50 honor notwithstanding, Debra Rathwell isn’t about to reveal her game plan as executive vice president of global touring and talent at AEG Presents, but she has a strong notion about what needs to be of greater importance to everyone producing live entertainment: the audience has to come first.

It’s an ethos that has propelled the Canadian-born Rathwell and AEG to the highest echelons of this business. Witness the firm’s massive runs, which includes tours by Taylor Swift, The Rolling Stones, Ed Sheeran, Paul McCartney, Zach Bryan, Luke Combs, Sleep Token, Kacey Musgraves, Mitski, Tom Segura, $uicideboy$, Journey, Kane Brown and many others.

“It’s something our business needs to pivot back to,” she said. “That doesn’t mean a $25 ticket, but always looking after your audience. Without them, you are nothing.”

It’s something Rathwell has kept top of mind throughout her illustrious career, which includes being named EVP of AEG’s newly-created Global Touring and Talent department in 2019 and presiding over the record-setting Elton John “Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour.” She was also named to Pollstar’s Impact 50 list in 2019 and honored as a member of Pollstar’s inaugural 2024 Women of Live Hall of Fame class.

No less a figure than Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO of AEG Presents, paid tribute to Rathwell upon her Hall of Fame induction. “She brings no ego to the job, and by doing so has become a legend in the business,” he said. “The live industry as a whole is better for her being in it, and we at AEG Presents specifically are a better company for having had the good fortune to work with her for over 20 years.”

Rathell for her part is all about paying it forward. “I’m all about promoting women and trying to help women because when I started there were none,” she said. “We have some extraordinary women now who work at our company, and I’m so impressed by them, but it’s always about just giving them a little nudge; keep going, keep fighting.”