A while back Music Business Worldwide interviewed UK manager James Sandom, one of the founders of Red Light management, a London based artist management company. Red Light’s roster includes Kaiser Chiefs, The Vaccines, Franz Ferdinand, Belle & Sebastian and other well known acts. Worth mentioning is that James Sandom started his career managing Danish band Junior Senior, back in 2002. In the interview he talks about artist management, founding his business and about what he has learned about the industry along the way. The whole article can be found here.
We took the chance to dig out a few lessons that can be learned from James’ story, worth thinking about for managers and self-managing bands alike.
James provides a couple of nice quotes on what he thinks successful artist management looks like:
“… my own [principles], which I think are echoed at Red Light as a company, are very much based on trust, strategic thought and, if something does go wrong, what are we doing as a group to make it right?
“My relationship with artists is very open: we spend time talking about the good, the bad, the business and what we could do better.
“It’s my role to absorb their goals, put those in logical order, encourage the good ideas and help bring a strategic path to all of it.”
On artist and career success James says:
“Whilst I’m fiercely ambitious, I find success harder to quantify, in my mind satisfaction is success – achieving an artist’s goals with them, and contributing creatively to expanding those horizons, whether creative or commercial, is hugely rewarding.”
James also has a guideline for how to choose the people and teams to work with:
“My perception of the modern business overall is equivalent to a group of colonies,” says Sandom. “In an era where there’s so many options in terms of who to work with and how, I gravitate towards the groups of people in the business sharing a similar philosophy and artist-first mindset like my own.”
In the interview, James shares an interesting story on how Red Light managed to get Kaiser Chiefs on the front foot again after the band’s decline after their fourth record The Future is Medieval in 2011. Through a commercial partnership and a lighter label deal, the band managed to turn the tide.
Before releasing the new record, Kaiser Chiefs participated in a TV ad for BarclayCard, which provided them with enough resources to put out the record through a label services deal on a sub-label to Universal, with a lot of the run-up work for the release made internally by the band’s management at Red Light. The new strategy required a lot of input by the management, but proved efficient – the LP made it to the no. 1 spot on the UK chart.