Richard Mills, one of Canada’s most experienced and popular talent agents, is rolling up his Rolodex.
In a surprise move to many, he has announced he is retiring from The Feldman Agency (TFA), the company he joined in October 1993, when The Feldman Agency opened its Toronto offices. Prior to that, he was a talent buyer at the University of Manitoba.
Explaining the decision in a press release, Mills stated “I realize I need to make time to pursue some of the life goals that I set aside for when my kids were older. That time is now so I am officially retiring from my role as agent (only 30 years after I remarked I’d never be one).
"As you might imagine, this is a tough choice to make as I truly love what I had the opportunity to do over almost 25 years of growth at TFA. I will be working on my tan, travelling and visiting friends before beginning a new chapter.“
TFA President Jeff Craib noted that “for 24 years Richard has grown with our TFA family personally and professionally. Anyone who is acquainted with Rich knows he has a heart of gold and cares deeply about people, their interests, careers and lives. Professionally I’m certain our paths will cross again as he is a very creative person. Everyone at TFA thanks him for a lot of great years, laughs and hard work and we wish him nothing but the absolute best.”
Mills was named Vice President, Performing Arts, at TFA in 2007. His eclectic roster of artists has included Jesse Cook, Ron Sexsmith, Sophie Milman, Leahy, Molly Johnson, Matt Dusk, Styx , Graham Nash, Cowboy Junkies, Kiefer Sutherland, Lawrence Gowan, Natalie MacMaster, Lhasa, Home Free, Morgan James, and Dr. John. He has recently been developing the touring strategy for the Next Generation Leahy, and has contributed to the Canadian success of Shawn Mendes.
Sexsmith reflects that "Richard has been a part of our team for so long now I can't imagine him not being there. It was always my dream to headline Massey Hall and so when Richard booked me a show there in 2005 it really felt like all my dreams had come true."
Mills in turn terms that one of many career highlights. “I am very proud to have supported Ron in making a life dream happen. The film Love Shines was made about selling out Massey Hall, and when BBC screened it, that helped grow his U.K. career so he played Royal Albert Hall.”
Asked about other highlights, Mills cites “Jesse Cook being able to sell 1.6 million records and tour as an instrumental artist, and negotiating Leahy as the opening act for the first Shania Twain world tour that spanned over 150 shows.”
“Then there was connecting Shawn Mendes to WE Days in London, England, Toronto and Vancouver months after he released his first song, and touring No. 1 records for both Sophie Milman and Matt Dusk in Japan. Last December, I introduced Stephan Moccio and his music and stories to the people of Abu Dhabi in two sold out performances and workshops as a bridge of western and eastern cultures.”
Seeing audiences enjoy a client you believe in is most gratifying be it overseas or at home.”
One spectacular event that Mills helped stage was a performance by Tom Cochrane at The Great Pyramid in Egypt in 2009.
“That really was a life moment for all that experienced it,” he reflects. “That will not be able to be recreated for some time. I take great personal satisfaction in knowing I helped overcome the many obstacles behind the scenes that kept popping up.”
After indulging his appetite for travel, expect to see Mills back in the business, in some form. “Music has been the sound track of my life so far and it will definitely be part of my future,” he stresses.