Bright Lights: Meet Red Light Management's rising stars

Bright Lights: Meet Red Light Management's rising stars

Name: Jessica Lord
Job title: Artist manager
Joined Red Light: January 2014
Previous roles: Day-to-day manager for Biffy Clyro; executive assistant to Warner Music & 14th Floor CEO, Christian Tattersfield

What do you do at Red Light?

I work alongside James, representing his, and our, artists globally on the ground in North America.

What’s unique about Red Light?

For me, the fluidity – whether that’s the flow of communication between managers, departments, offices across the US and UK; or the opportunity to work in a variety of ways and roles.

In my time at the company I’ve enjoyed being able to get involved with the impressive breadth of great artists and great people.

Largely speaking, there are no barriers or strict hierarchies to adhere to, if you have passion and a vision you’re in an environment that supports that.  

What’s the most exciting project you’re working on right now?

If I had to pick one it would be Punctual, a DJ/Producer duo from the UK – they’re brand new, right at the start of their career and full of enthusiasm.

It’s a challenge to break an artist starting at the very beginning – there’s no rule book or definitive ‘how to’, but with that you have the freedom to assemble the best possible team around them and truly work collaboratively on every aspect of the project, from the ground up.

It’s hugely rewarding when you start to see traction building and fans tuning in to them as you first did.

What’s the biggest opportunity for the business right now and why?

There is more opportunity now than ever before for discovery – there’s a cornucopia of music in your pocket.

With music so accessible the business has the opportunity to give fans not only new music but an immediate education in catalogue for those longer-standing artists.

With streaming already reportedly driving growth in revenue for the recording industry it’s an opportunity to increase exposure to artists of all sizes.

And what’s the biggest challenge for the business?

Making it stick. The journey of discovery is fantastic, but the difficulty is how you retain the fan and have them invested in your artist – a consumer can arrive with a click, the challenge is making them seek that closer connection.

As managers we’re all looking for those elements that encourage people to explore deeper – the same applies to agents, promoters, labels, publishers and so on.

Thankfully, with less of a dichotomy with streaming services we have the opportunity to work together on how that creative connectivity is achieved.

Name: Peter McGaughrin
Job title: Manager
Joined Red Light: 2015
Previous roles: Head of A&R, business and creative, RCA Music Group; head of A&R and business affairs, Geffen Records; senior A&R manager, Polydor Records; Partner, Clintons Solicitors. Also, currently co-owner of Chess Club Records and Publishing

What do you do at Red Light?

Manage artists, including Django Django, Everything Everything, Frightened Rabbit, Nilufer Yanya, Pumarosa.

What’s unique about Red Light?

The team I work alongside are smart, collaborative, well-connected, trusted and knowledgeable across the main areas of the global music business, and a total pleasure and an education to spend time with. And the wider RLM team that support what we do here in London and in the US are pretty unique.

What’s the most exciting project you’re working on?

I’m getting a lot of satisfaction from the continued rise and critical acclaim of relatively new artists like Pumarosa and Nilufer Yanya, the most passionate fan worship I’ve seen with Frightened Rabbit, and the new Django Django album is maybe their best yet and is going to blow people away.

I’m also very excited about the new Everything Everything album.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with them as A&R across all their records, and as their manager on the last album Get To Heaven and I think this upcoming album A Fever Dream is the their most creatively ambitious and explosive yet.

What’s the biggest opportunity for the business?

Forward-thinking passionate artists, continually pushing the creative boundaries. It always has been the biggest opportunity and always will be.

I’m forever searching for artists like that to work with. For the business, I’m excited about the new diversity of opportunity for those artists – it used to be an almost impossibly narrow target for artists to hit in terms of who would invest in them and how they’d be able to build an audience and a sustainable career.

Now there are a lot of new routes being beaten down by imaginative artists and I’m interested to see those develop more.

What’s the biggest challenge for the business?

Being able to properly develop those new routes. It’s harder than ever to be able to have the time and support to break artists in a big way through the glass ceiling.

The DSPs, radio and the live sector, as well as labels and publishers and managers have a responsibility to keep building those ladders.

Also, proper control and remuneration for the creators and the investors in the music and the world that surrounds it.

The more those are strengthened, the more we’ll all be able to take risks with money and time on the next generation of artists.

Name: Matt Johnson
Job title: Artist manager
Joined Red Light: 2012
Previous roles: Artist manager based in Manchester, ran own live promoter business in Manchester running XFM X-Posure and Club Fandango nights as well as shows all the way up to O2 Apollo Manchester. Also general manager of a youth clothing line/brand

What do you do at Red Light?

I manage my own roster of artists: Oh Wonder, Lewis Watson, Ten Tonnes, Sarah Close, Kimberly Anne.

What’s the biggest opportunity for the business?

Streaming is the obvious answer, but I see it working first hand. An act like Oh Wonder have connected on a global level without huge mainstream media support and their debut album is now on over half a million copies and they have sold a quarter of a million headline tickets.

It’s all depending on our rates from DSPs, and volume of consumption, but I’m confident that is going to increase as the public awareness grows, and that only means one thing – more streams, more discovery and more opportunities for music to connect. 

The global reach allows artists to build careers without relying on a radio hit straight away. My job is to build an eco-system with an artist that allows them to make music as they wish, and streaming has added a new layer of positivity to the viability of artists on all levels, even when traditional media may not instantly come onboard.

It’s an exciting time.

What’s the biggest challenge for the business?

There is often too much focus on a track in isolation, and that can lead to this industry not helping to develop career artists.

Sure, we all want a hit, but there can be an element of it being short term, especially in the live business, unless there is more around an artist for the public to invest in.

A huge hit on a streaming platform is obviously fantastic, but do people want to wear your band T-shirt, tell their friends about you, meet you?

And can you sell out a 200-cap room, then a 500-cap room, and then 5,000-cap room, and so on?

Name: Lisa Ward
Job title: EVP Artist Strategy
Joined Red Light: Feb 2016
Previous roles: Label manager, Fiction Records

What do you do at Red Light?

I think of my job as two halves – one outward facing, which is building and maintaining relationships for the company, driving new business opportunities, with retailers, partners, platforms, agencies, developers, you name it.

The second half is more internal and behind the scenes, supporting the managers and their artists
with release strategy and marketing resource.

What’s unique about Red Light?

For me, its entrepreneurial spirit. And everyone is encouraged to be a part of that.

What is the most exciting project you’re working on right now?

I’m excited Laura has joined the company, to expand central resources with me – she brings a wealth of experience and we make a great team.

I’ll let the managers talk about the exciting music coming out of the office as I’m not supposed to have favourites.

What’s the biggest opportunity for the business?

Technology and data. We now operate in an attention economy where most of the time if you can imagine something, it’s possible. Nothing is easy, but nothing is impossible.

And as managers we have access to more and more data, but need time/expertise to make actual use of it, in order to not leave money on the table for our artists, to be more efficient, more exciting.

What’s the biggest challenge for the business?

Collectively understanding the new parameters of how we define success is a key problem I encounter regularly.

I think there are big governmental and legislative challenges on the horizon too – e.g. post Brexit culture and arts funding, the ongoing battle around secondary ticketing... but we need to work together, and that’s easier said than done.

Name: Laura Taylor
Job title: Creative Services
Joined Red Light: June 2017
Previous roles: Club promoter and DJ; Prolifica management; Everybody’s for almost nine years working as management rep for Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons, before becoming producer for the bands touring entity Gentlemen Of The Road; freelance event producer

What do you do at Red Light?

I am head of Creative Services and work alongside Lisa Ward (Artist Strategy) as part of the central services team.

My role is to focus on all kinds of extra creative output, from bespoke events to unique marketing and campaign initiatives.

I am here to give the managers and their artists back-up and support, really getting stuck into projects that might otherwise go amiss and helping to open up doors that otherwise might not have revealed themselves.

What’s unique about Red Light?

I think even the fact that a management company has a central services team is very unique. Most companies consist of various managers and assistants who all work incredibly hard but often in isolation from each other with little communication.

Red Light is one of the biggest independent management companies in the world, yet you can walk into the London office and it still feels really DIY and grassroots.

What’s the biggest opportunity for the business?

The biggest opportunity is also the biggest challenge and that’s one of really creating and honing in on the community.

The company is so big but doesn’t feel corporate, and I think that it will benefit everyone to continue to talk to each other about their artists’ achievements and goals.

Of course the industry is a competitive place, that’s the nature of it, but it’s also a place of creation and ultimately art, when artists and managers can collaborate and learn from each other I feel that they should, and the community at Red Light is a great place to really get that going.

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