Red Light's James Sandom & ex-Syco MD Tyler Brown talk building a global writer-producer business

Red Light's James Sandom & ex-Syco MD Tyler Brown talk building a global writer-producer business

Former Syco MD Tyler Brown’s company Funfair Management has partnered with Red Light Management, Music Week can reveal. 

The two firms have combined forces on a rapidly growing songwriter-producer management business, which builds on Red Light’s existing operation across rising stars and established names. 

The collaboration has already resulted in global streaming success, including with Lewis Thompson, who this week was named ASCAP London Songwriter Of The Year following hits for Joel Corry, Anne-Marie, David Guetta, Becky Hill and Clean Bandit, amongst others.

Following the end of Syco as a label operation in 2020, Brown has been busy establishing his Funfair management operation. The executive drew on his experience of working closely with songwriters in the Syco years, such as Jamie Scott (One Direction) and TMS (Little Mix). 

“Our relationships with our producers and writers were massively important,” Tyler Brown told Music Week. “So I thought back to that period of my career, and the kind of relationships that I had developed and nurtured, and I wanted to get back into that space… Just being surrounded by just great songs and going back to basics.

“My initial idea for Funfair was to build a producer-songwriter management company. So it was just reconnecting with writers and producers who are having hit records, who are ambitious and want to have success in this country and around the world.”

“Whilst Tyler had been building his business, our business had been going through a healthy evolution,” Red Light’s managing partner James Sandom told Music Week. “There wasn't ever a specific moment or strategic plan, we were just evolving with the sharp end of the market. And the pandemic undoubtedly played a factor in a positive sense, because turning down the volume on certain things that have been a quite straightforward and traditional route to revenue for Red Light over some years, meant that we naturally turned the volume up on something that we were already building.”

It’s for writers and producers who are having hit records, who are ambitious and want to have success in this country and around the world

Tyler Brown

The first Funfair client in May 2021 was Henry Tucker, who's co-written the current Top 10 Anne-Marie and Aitch single, Psycho. 

Tucker also co-wrote Jason Derulo’s 2021 track Acapulco, which was produced by Red Light client Punctual (duo Will Lansley and John Morgan). Although the single didn’t make a chart impact in the UK or US, it has amassed around 750 million global streams to become a global hit.

Brown also signed Ed Drewett as a client in the early days of Funfair.

“I'd had lots of hits with him on One Direction, I’d worked with him on Little Mix and lots of projects,” said Brown. “We were mates, to be frank, he was looking for a new manager, I was setting up my company so it fell into place very naturally.”

The third signing to Funfair was Moon Willis (Stromae, Pa Salieu, Priya Ragu, Clean Bandit), followed by Jay Mooncie (Kamal, Demi Lovato, SG Lewis).

“He [Mooncie] has a track with Miley Cyrus, he’s got a single with Dermot Kennedy, he’s recently been working with Mabel,” said Brown. “So he's a really exciting new producer who's still young and new but has earned his chops.” 

(L-R) Tyler Brown and James Sandom

In a separate development, Brown has signed James Essien as his first Funfair Publishing client (in partnership with Kobalt).

“He has got the next Clean Bandit single and the next Tom Grennan single, and he’s got a really big American cut coming next year,” said Brown. “So it feels like I'm just finding my feet and getting started, but it's all really exciting. And the best thing is I'm surrounded by really talented, hardworking, ambitious people.” 

The Funfair roster has combined with Red Light songwriter-producer clients including Danny L Harle (Charlie XCX, Caroline Polachek, Flume), Flood (Nine Inch Nails, U2, 30 Seconds To Mars), Ben Matravers (Easy Life), Simon Aldred (Liam Gallagher, Celeste) and top vocal producer Cameron GP.

The partnership for Red Light and Funfair was sparked by the co-management of Lewis Thompson.

“What's remarkable with him is he's had phenomenal success back to back, and it is the pace with which it's occurred,” said Sandom. “He’s on about 18 Top 20 records - that's obviously not a fluke. As a songsmith on one hand, and in terms of his understanding of contemporary production on the other, he’s [shown that he] understands how to get the best out of certain artists. And that really led to a natural partnership between us [Red Light and Funfair] because we were working in a co-management situation.”

Lewis Thompson has also launched his artist project with RCA, teaming up with David Guetta on Take Me Back, which has amassed 20 million streams over two months.

“It’s a really good start from scratch - no fanbase or any particular momentum in terms of releases,” said Brown. “On the European airplay charts for producers, after David Guetta and Ricky Reed, Lewis was the third most played record producer in Europe in the summer. A lot of the records he's worked on have obviously been massive hits in the UK, but we hadn't realised had had such reach outside of the UK as well.”

Prior to this Funfair partnership, Red Light had hired manager Patrick Hanrahan, whose clients included producer-writers Jam City (Olivia Rodrigo, Conan Gray) and Danny L Harle (Flume, Charlie XCX, Caroline Polachek). 

“Caroline Polachek had a cult song with Bunny Is A Rider, which has been a catalyst for so much good in Danny's career and some of the things he's doing now,” said Sandom. “That was a record that really turned heads. So those things were going on anyway, and it meant our business had so much common ground in terms of what Tyler was already doing and what we were already doing. 

“We had a client in common [Lewis Thompson], we had a hit record in common [Acapulco, co-written and produced by Punctual and Henry Tucker]. It was a natural thing to bring together this year. In the writer-producer space it’s been positive for our existing clients.”

Writer-producer clients are creating a heartbeat to the business that is encouraging another phase of entrepreneurial thinking

James Sandom

Looking across the roster, Sandom highlighted the diversity of writer-producer talent.

“There's a spectrum that ranges, on the one hand, from a traditional producer business with Flood, for instance, right to the other end of the spectrum with young, sharp writer-producers,” he said. “There’s another part of the business we bought together this year with Jed Kellett, formerly from YMU, and Cameron Gower Poole, who's the number one vocal producer in the country, and Neil Comber, who's a mixer of a whole ton of big pop records. So we're starting to have an ecosystem that, increasingly, is quite self-contained.” 

Sandom said that Red Light’s role across projects can now cover both songwriting/production and recordings.

“There’s a handful of projects, when you roll in our masters partnerships with Chess Club, AMF and ATO, where we have literally delivered from start to finish,” he told Music Week. “Alfie Templeman is a good example. It is predominantly written by Alfie with Will Bloomfield and Justin Hayward Young and is on Chess Club Records, which is also part of our ecosystem. So it's creating a heartbeat to the business that is encouraging another phase of entrepreneurial thinking, artist development, producer development and writer development. It's an exciting time.”

Subscribers can read our 2020 feature on Red Light Management here.


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