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Power Players

No. 2
Coran Capshaw

Founder Partner
Red Light Management, Star Hill Presents; ATO Records, TBD Records
Twitter: @atorecords
The Quiet Revolution...

Coran Capshaw founded Red Light Management in 1991 with the Dave Matthews Band and a plan to connect artists and fans like never before. DMB built its loyal foundation gradually, on its way to becoming one of the biggest touring bands on the planet. But for Capshaw, a defining moment for the shape of things to come occurred more than a decade later, when the Bonnaroo festival launched in 2002, completely under the mainstream radar--until it sold out in 11 days, solely through the Internet. Behind that success was Capshaw, who pioneered direct-to-fan marketing at MusicToday (sold to Live Nation in 2007) and changed the model for the way fans discover events, buy tickets and experience live music.

On the management side, RLM has gone into full-blown growth mode as artists join in Capshaw's mantra of "freedom and flexibility" and more already-successful managers find a philosophical fit within the RLM culture. With a roster of more than 100 acts and around 50 managers, RLM has become the largest independent management company in the world. Capshaw personally manages Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, Phish and, still, DMB. RLM clients working with other managers-but just a phone call away from Capshaw, if his input is needed-include Alabama Shakes, Alicia Keys, Alberta Cross, Amos Lee, Cheap Trick, Drive-By Truckers and more.

The managers themselves are respected, driven and effective, a mix of experienced veterans and a bright, energetic younger corps that has to a large extent developed in-house. Capshaw is clearly on a path of expansion in terms of both artists and managers, most recently adding Charlie Brusco's Atlanta-based Alliance Artists to the team. The next look could well be international.

In addition to his labels (which include ATO Records and TBD Records), Capshaw is involved in numerous other artist-service businesses, including sponsorships, branding, merchandising, digital, promotion and film/TV licensing. RLM sister company Starr Hill Presents promotes and stages music events, with an emphasis on festivals. Starr Hill has an equity position in Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and Wanderlust, and Capshaw also quietly has a stake in leading independent promoter C3 Presents (see No. 32). Green Light, Red Light's branding arm, has paired acts like Dave Matthews, Tim McGraw and Pretty Lights with Constellation Wines, Gillette and Hyundai, respectively. He also draws top talent to Red Light's own tour sponsorship arm, recently hiring Anheuser-Busch's Dave Campbell.

Meanwhile, ATO and TBD are viewed as artist-friendly, with streamlined staffs reputed for getting things done. The rosters are varied and respected: TBD has Radiohead, White Rabbits and the Henry Clay People, among others, while ATO includes 311, Dawes, My Morning Jacket, John Butler Trio and Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Capshaw's efforts in the world of philanthropy are widespread and effective on global and local levels, leading to his being honored with the Humanitarian Award at the Billboard Touring Awards in 2011. In accepting, Capshaw called on the industry as a whole to work together to affect collaborative positive change. A bold entrepreneur across multiple businesses, yet painstakingly private (convincing him to be publicly recognized for his good works was no easy task), Capshaw's reach is broader, deeper and more influential than most realize-and he prefers it that way.

Order the special edition Billboard Power 100 issue,
printed on glossy stock with lavish original photography (available now).

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