COVER STORY: CAA’s DARRYL EATON, EMMA BANKS AND RICK ROSKIN

Darryl Eaton, Emma Banks and Rick Roskin, the three CAA veterans who’ll be succeeding Rob Light as co-heads of global touring, are no strangers to collaboration. Indeed, Eaton and Roskin—both of whom have three decades of experience at the agency under their belts—have been a tandem in charge of contemporary music for North America since 2015, while Banks has been co-leading the London office since 2006. The trio is raring to kick off CAA’s next chapter. Still, they’d prefer not to share the stage with us.


"This is the first time that the three of us have ever done this,” says CAA’s Darryl Eaton.

He’s referring to a joint interview with fellow longtime CAA execs Rick Roskin and Emma Banks, but that’s merely in service to a seismic change in the live entertainment business: Eaton, Roskin and Banks have been named co-heads of global touring, as industry icon Rob Light assumes the role of CAA managing director, where he’ll help guide the agency’s overall strategic direction.

Under Light’s 25-plus years of leadership, CAA became the dominant live-music and comedy agency, with more than double the number of Top 25 highest-grossing 2023 tours than the closest agency, according to one published report.

“For years, Darryl, Rick and Emma have been extraordinary partners to me in leading our touring group in North America and London, respectively,” said Light. “I am immensely proud of all that we have achieved to date and look forward to what they will create in the years ahead. Along with my new strategic responsibilities, I look forward to continuing to sign and empower great artists, creatively build long-term careers and mentor young executives.”

“Rick, Darryl and Emma have long been among the most talented and widely admired leaders in the industry, not to mention three of the best agents in the world,” said CAA Co-Chairman/CEO Bryan Lourd. “The leadership role they each already play at CAA has earned them deep respect and trust among our colleagues across all departments.”

Eaton got his start in CAA’s storied mailroom in 1991. Roskin has been part of the touring department for 35 years, and they became co-heads of contemporary music for North America in 2015. Meanwhile, relative CAA newbie Banks has co-led the agency’s now-60-strong London music office since joining the company in 2006.

Among many others, CAA’s touring clients include Bruce Springsteen, the Weeknd, Harry Styles, Peso Pluma, Jelly Roll, Lady Gaga, blink-182, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Janet Jackson, David Guetta, Trevor Noah, Kelsea Ballerini, The 1975, Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson.

Why they agreed to talk to us remains a mystery.

Congratulations on being named co-heads of global touring. Tell us about the new arrangement.

Rick Roskin: First, Rob, who has been an incredibly generous leader for all of us throughout our careers, is not going anywhere. He has accepted a position to be a managing director at CAA, to help guide the strategic growth of the company. He is still a music agent, he still sits with us, he’s still going to be involved. This new structure enables Rob to do what he does his best, which is signing, servicing and assisting every other agent within this department.

This is a very natural transition for us. The three of us have been in various positions of leadership within the department for many years, but that doesn’t make this any less exciting. It’s an incredible moment of change for our group that we don’t take lightly.

Darryl Eaton: I think it’s important for our colleagues and younger agents to be able to see that there is a succession plan, and we want to continue to mentor and develop people and push them into roles of leadership, to come and take this job away from us in the future. Demonstrating that kind of opportunity is an important part of our growth strategy.

What’s the division of labor going to be as co-heads of global touring?

Emma Banks: What’s important is that the three of us are doing this together. It’s not that one person’s head of catering and the other’s head of transportation; it’s three global heads of the department, and we will talk about everything. While there are obviously geographic differences, a lot of what we’re going to be doing is about the entire world.

Eaton: Rick and I have worked together for over 30 years now, and we’ve been working with Emma for 18 years. Emma’s expertise is obviously international. She’s been instrumental in guiding the strategic growth in international. And Rick and I will run North America. But this is very much a global business. When I talk about Rick and I running North America, that’s more of an administrative distinction, and for our teams. For our clients, we approach everything globally.

How long has this change been in the works?

Banks: 18 years, as far as I’m concerned!

Roskin: I would say that it’s been in the works since we’ve been empowered to be part of the management team. I think the intention for Rob was always to have a plan for transition, and it felt like this was the right moment to do it as the company is changing their management structure as well. So it all just fell into line.

The three of us are fortunate to be surrounded by people who’ve mentored us, and to be surrounded by exceptional agents. And as we take this next step, what CAA is about is our culture. The motto is, take good care of each other and good things happen.

Banks: That’s so true and it comes from the top: Bryan Lourd, Kevin Huvane, Richard Lovett. I go back to when I first met those guys 18 years ago and was blown away by how they worked together, they cared about each other, they cared about everybody at the company. We all want good things for each other.

Do you have a sense yet of what responsibilities you might have to give up because of your new responsibilities?

Eaton: Well, job one is still servicing our clients and doing the best possible job as music agents. This change is going to give us the opportunity to riff off of and utilize each other’s skill sets to approach things with three brains of one mind.

Banks: We are also lucky that we have people like Mitch Rose, Mike Greek and Katie Anderson, who are 100% part of the management structure of the global touring department. And they’ll be stepping up in different ways as well.

Roskin: The senior leadership of CAA touring has been the most consistent and steadiest ship in the business, and that makes this a natural and smooth transition.

Since Rob’s not here, let’s talk about him behind his back. What’s the secret sauce that he brought, and continues to bring, to the job?

Roskin: Rob has an unparalleled work ethic. He is the first person in, he is the last one to leave. He covers more shows than any person in this industry. His work ethic applies not only towards clients but to everybody who works within this department. Watching him for 30-plus years is a lesson in leadership.

Banks: With Rob, you get someone who thinks very deeply about things. There are no immediate fireworks or gut reactions. He’s not throwing telephones around; he’s not shouting at everybody. He’s so respectful of our clients, of his colleagues. He’s the first person to try and draw other people from the company into a team. He’s not somebody who wants all the glory; he wants to share it. That’s how I want to behave as well.

Eaton: Our company prides itself on building a culture of supporting one another. Rob exemplifies that.

We’re nearly midway through 2024. What’s the temperature of the touring business right now? What are the tailwinds, what are the headwinds?

Eaton: We came out of the COVID era guns a-blazing. There were a ton of tours and an appetite among fans to be together and to be at all the shows. And we had unparalleled growth. But as the economy has stayed a little stagnant and inflation has carried on, there is some reticence among fans about paying the highest possible ticket prices. We feel like there’s a little pushback coming. As agents, we have to pay attention to ticket price, and we have to pay attention to marketing and how we’re differentiating our clients from the pack.

Banks: This is a generalization, but some festivals have had a tough time in various markets because of changing customer requirements. After COVID, I don’t think anyone wants to use a port-a-potty anymore.

Did they really want to use it before COVID?

Banks: Fair enough, but they didn’t know any other way. We’ve all gotten used to having a more pleasant experience all of the time.

Also, festivals have changed musically. Ten years ago, for example, The Chainsmokers, A$AP Rocky and The Last Dinner Party would be playing at three separate festivals. Now, they’re all on the same bill. People want to see a huge range of music. But there is more to a festival than just the artists on it. The artists are obviously hugely important, but you also need to have an identity for your festival. You need to stand for something.

Roskin: A genre-specific festival like When We Were Young in Vegas hits a very targeted audience, and it’s incredibly successful. But it’s exciting that an 18-year-old could be a fan of Harry Styles and a fan of Morgan Wallen. That creates incredible opportunity for the live industry. The business of live has been incredibly robust post-COVID, and when I say the business of live, I mean sports, comedy, music, Broadway. Because at the end of the day, no one can replicate that emotion. And what we learned during COVID is that virtual didn’t work. You can’t snap a selfie in front of your computer screen and send it out to your friends. Being there matters. The exclusivity of a show, the exclusivity of a festival, of just being there, is what separates us from what’s happening in motion pictures.

It’s also interesting to see what the big streamers like Amazon and Netflix are investing in. They’re investing in live entertainment, in sports. It goes back to the strength of a live audience.

Banks: As Rick said, people want to go out and see stuff. I look at our podcast touring business even, and it’s doing huge business, touring just everywhere. And what’s interesting is the spoken-word touring—comedy, podcasts—they’re going to countries where the first language is not English and they’re still selling out.

Darryl, you brought up ticket prices. I know each client is different, but what’s the general tenor of your conversations with artists and their managers about ticket prices?

Eaton: Most artists want to do the right thing. After the rush back post-COVID, we started to see a ceiling. Fans’ appetites hit a bit of a wall. We need to make sure that artists and managers are cognizant that a wall exists. Of course, certain things are through the roof and will probably remain there because of demand.

Roskin: When you’re developing artists, the fundamentals don’t change. You can’t skip steps. You have to be patient; you have to pass the brass ring a couple of times before you grab it. We have Melanie Martinez, Maggie Rogers, Charli XCX and Troye Sivan all playing arenas for the first time. Those are longtime clients, and a lot of preparation and discussion has gone on between artist, management and the agent to build and develop them over a period of time and then make the step into the bigger play.

Eaton: Conan Gray is playing arenas.

Roskin: Lizzy McAlpine is playing two nights at the Greek. IDLES are playing two nights at the Palladium. The growth is coming at all different levels.

Banks: What’s really exciting is that some years ago you’d have artists who would be enormous in one market, one country, and meaningless everywhere else. And over the last years everyone understands that if you want a career that keeps you going for a long time, you have to pay attention to all the markets, or as many as you can get to. Darryl mentioned Conan Gray, who’s not just selling out arenas in the U.S., he’s doing it in Europe, he’s doing it in Australia.

And obviously, at CAA we’re well placed to help build artists’ careers outside of touring. So while Ariana Grande hasn’t been touring, she hasn’t been sitting at home twiddling her thumbs—she’s been making Wicked. Halle Bailey starred in The Little Mermaid. Look at Katy Perry on American Idol or Kelly Clarkson’s TV chat show. Muse is a client, and Matt Bellamy just did all of the music for the Audible version of 1984. And that’s all coming through the links that we have with the different departments at CAA. Because you can’t just keep touring all the time, you have to have a little bit of creative space.

Which territories do you see as real opportunities for growth?

Banks: China is building more and more venues. There are a lot of hoops to jump through. But for an artist like Troye Sivan, who is really big there, we’re looking at a significant amount of shows there, if we can get them across the line.

What about Saudi Arabia?

Banks: As for other territories, the Gulf region is growing. You’ve seen in the last three or four years where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has put a lot of effort in and obviously it divides opinion, but there are more and more artists going to Saudi. There are venues being built daily, literally. The infrastructure there is becoming incredible. I mean, you can go to a festival now in Saudi and they’ve got marble toilets. They don’t do the port-a-potty. Back to my favorite topic… But what’s fascinating about Saudi is it has a relatively large population, and a huge amount of them are under the age of 35.

Between Taylor’s Eras Tour and Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE Tour, we’re living through peak stadium concert experience. I wonder where you think things can go from here. Where does your imagination take you?

Roskin: We’re in a production arms race, as you talk about these giant superstars and those shows that you mentioned. I mean, they were mind-blowing productions. Imagination-wise, the Sphere has captured that.

Banks: As well, though, I would point not just to everything getting bigger and more spectacular, but look at how successful Bruce Springsteen was on Broadway. There is something very special still about being in a small, intimate space. We must never let go of that. Sometimes the finances are harder to deal with, but, back to the ticket-price conversation, if you are giving somebody a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, people are prepared to pay a bit more. And the smart agents, the smart managers, the smart artists, are constantly thinking about all of those things.

And I’m lucky that I only work with smart agents, smart managers, smart artists. So these are conversations that we’re having all the time. We all sit together in this office and people are just chucking ideas around. So you say, what’s the next big thing? At some point we’ll do a gig on the moon. We’ll be the first. And Darryl will cover it. No man travels as much as Darryl Eaton. He’ll be the first agent on the moon.

Eaton: We were talking about this before our interview. We all got into this because of our love of music. At nearly the same time in our lives, when I was 19, I was interning at Def Jam/Columbia. Meanwhile, Rick was playing lead guitar in his college band and Emma was already promoting shows around London. We all came from this place of intense passion for music. That’s still what drives our success, and what makes this job so incredibly fun and rewarding all these years later.

COVER STORY: CAA’s DARRYL EATON, EMMA BANKS AND RICK ROSKIN
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