Red alert: How Red Light's expanding UK operation is taking over the charts

Red alert: How Red Light's expanding UK operation is taking over the charts

Red Light Management’s James Sandom has spoken about the “rich opportunity” across the music sector as it unveils a new team.

The global management firm, which was founded by Coran Capshaw three decades ago, represents dozens of acts including Luke Bryan, Bonobo, Maren Morris, Lionel Richie, Sugababes, Chris Stapleton and Interpol.

Red Light are now working with Mumford & Sons, who are managed by Izzy Zivkovic at Split Second in partnership with Coran Capshaw at Red Light, with Gavin Batty handling day-to-day duties. 

“They’re a fiercely ambitious band with great times ahead,” said Sandom, Red Light’s London-based managing partner. “It’s exciting to open up new relationships and new partnerships.”

Australian rock act Gang Of Youths are also new to the roster. 

In the UK, the team has expanded to 40. Key appointments include Lisa Ward, who has been promoted to MD, and Carly Garrod, who has been upped to general manager.

“As the business grows, it’s rewarding to see this opportunity for two of the big characters within our company,” said Sandom. “They have further developed their experience and skill sets to merit new roles in which they will thrive.”

Ward, whose previous roles include label manager at Fiction, has high expectations for the partnership with Sandom.

“He is forever positive, energetic and relentlessly driving forwards, which completely embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of the company,” she told Music Week. “It feels like a very exciting time for me to take this step forward and help run Red Light’s London business alongside him – we have a group of amazing people and such huge potential in our midst.” 

“I’ve needed a co-pilot to work alongside me in running the company,” said Sandom. “She is someone who understands what each manager is, what their ambitions may be, what the potential is in each project, and what they’re going through.”

Red Light has taken on managers including Philip Morais from YMU, whose clients include Alex Metric (Silk City & Dua Lipa) and Owen Cutts (Stormzy), as well as Owyn Sidwell and Jasmine Murray (DJ Jaguar and writer/producer Tom Demac). 

Ashley Sykes and Adam Midgley, who previously worked at EMI and Island respectively, have also joined the company. The pair’s clients include Issey Cross, Jana Diab and Ray Laurel.

The music sector is rich with opportunity and new routes to do intelligent business

James Sandom

Red Light is building a writer-producer roster in partnership with ex-Syco MD Tyler Brown’s company Funfair Management

“The roster goes from strength to strength with Jon Shave joining the company this year,” said Brown. “He’s had hits with some of the biggest artists in the world, and this looks like being his strongest year to date with records coming with Joel Corry, Charli XCX, Flowerovlove and Rita Ora.”

In May, writer and producer Lewis Thompson had a role in five concurrent Top 30 airplay hits, including Mae Muller’s I Wrote A Song. Red Light’s roster of hitmakers recently gave them five concurrent Top 40 singles.

“The client base on that side is gradually expanding,” said Sandom. “Lewis has emerged as one of the most successful British writer-producers.”

Current releases by the producer-writer roster include Side Effects by Becky Hill & Lewis Thompson (co-written and produced by Thompson and Jon Shave); Joel Corry & Caity Baser collaboration Dance Around It; Top 10 hit React by Switch Disco & Ella Henderson (co-written and produced by Punctual); and the forthcoming album by Anne-Marie, which features co-writes from Henry Tucker, including the hit Psycho (with Aitch).

The growth of Red Light has been fueled by investment by music-focused media company Firebird Music Holdings, which has taken a stake in the firm.

“The partnership with Firebird strengthens our ability to invest,” said Sandom. “Our relationship with them is very strong. This year in particular, we’ve really found our feet with that dynamic and partnership – they’re a great group of creative minds with the ambition that really matches Coran’s and Red Light’s as a whole.”

The timing of the Firebird partnership has also been important.

“The music sector is rich with opportunity and new routes to do intelligent business, new paths to revenue and the confidence in the entertainment sector that some predicted coming out of the pandemic,” said Sandom. “[Firebird] helps us enormously with some very smart marketeers, digital expertise and data expertise to understand some of these opportunities and how to do a better job in harnessing the audience out there.” 

The latest development is the launch of Funfair Records alongside Red Light’s existing label partnerships with AMF, ATO and Chess Club. Following the impact of Lauren by Oden & Fatzo (184,497 sales – Official Charts Company), the burgeoning label has hired a scout and senior A&R manager.

“We want a couple of records to do the talking before shining a light on that specifically,” said Sandom. “It’s predominantly a dance label specialising in commercial dance music, with a couple of very exciting releases ahead.”

Brown acknowledged the support of Capshaw and Sandom for “believing in the label and sharing the same ambition for what it could become”.

Red Light’s Matt Johnson was nominated at the Music Week Awards alongside Whitney Asomani for their work on Sugababes. Johnson, who has added RuthAnne (Becky Hill, Niall Horan) to his roster, works on the SheWrites initiative for female writers and producers with client Violet Skies.

Amid the ongoing challenges around breaking new talent, Sandom said that Red Light’s strengths are based in Capshaw’s fundamental approach at launch.

“One of the challenges we all face in the modern business is that of slowing people down enough to focus on embracing an artist rather than just the transient world of hearing a track and liking it,” he said. “It takes patience, investment and tenacity to slowly immerse the audience, and we’re getting better at that. We’ve always had the artist development and artist-first ethos, but in 2023 we’re getting a lot sharper and better, with our access to data and a higher tier of forward-thinking audience management.”

Sandom suggested that managers have become even more central.

“I would say that managers are more important than ever,” he told Music Week. “By and large, we’re handling the artist development and their direction. As the needle has shifted, the importance of guidance on careers and the intelligent route to market has empowered the managers even more – and most importantly empowered the artists. 

“I feel a greater sense of responsibility in 2023 than ever before. When you commit to an artist, it’s a big commitment.”

PHOTO: (L-R) Philip Morais, Mike Ajayi (AMF president), Carly Garrod, James Sandom, Ashley Sykes, Owyn Sidwell, Tyler Brown, Jasmine Murray (not pictured – Lisa Ward) 

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