He shuns the spotlight, which means you may not see the full scope of his empire: management, festivals, venues and branding -- for a start
If most in the music industry are unaware of the true scope of Coran Capshaw’s influence, that is by design, as the manager/entrepreneur remains one of the -industry’s most private and enigmatic figures. His influence is deep and broad, and he continues to be on the leading edge of the industry’s shifting power dynamic from labels to artists and, by extension, managers.
The management division’s growth during the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable. Capshaw now employs more than 60 managers overseeing the careers of nearly 200 artists, with offices in seven cities and a roster that includes Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Tim McGraw, R. Kelly, Alicia Keys, Interpol, Luke Bryan, Tiësto and Lionel Richie, as well as the estate of Jerry Garcia.
Capshaw’s powers of persuasion are perhaps most evident in Nashville, where he broke through in the traditionally insular town to now be the most prominent management company in the uber-hot mainstream country music market. Across the board, Red Light has accumulated artistic, management and executive talent through internal development and key people coming onboard from existing firms, eager to be part of the Red Light model and the synergies within it. “I don’t chase people,” Capshaw says. “Managers join us because they believe in what we’re doing together.”
While management is the driving force, what truly makes Capshaw a power player is the diversity of his interests. Red Light sister company Starr Hill Presents operates the nTelos Wireless Pavilion in Charlottesville, W.Va., and Capshaw has significantly boosted his festival portfolio with equity positions in Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Wanderlust, Forecastle and Houston’s Free Press—a group with grosses that easily top $50 million.
Labels ATO and TBD have respected artists both within and outside the Red Light family, including Alabama Shakes, Drive-By Truckers, My Morning Jacket, Okkervil River, Primus and Radiohead. Capshaw’s branding/sponsorship divisions Greenlight and New Era are creating innovative partnerships for events, bands and brands, recently closing a three-year partnership between 7-Up and EDM stalwart Insomniac Events. Dave Matthews’ Dreaming Tree wine is the most successful artist-branded wine in music (selling more than 400,000 cases per year, according to industry sources), and additional such projects will emerge in the coming months. The founder of MusicToday, Capshaw remains enamored with direct-to-fan and says he’ll likely re-engage in that space soon.