In 2001, Tony Fernandes — who had spent over a decade at Warner Music, rising to vp for Southeast Asia — bought struggling Malaysian-based airline AirAsia for about 25 cents. As CEO, he transformed it into Asia’s biggest low-cost carrier, and in 2019, with his company holding steady, he felt ready to return to music.
At the 2019 Grammys, Fernandes’ friend and colleague Hassan Choudhury connected him with Universal Music Group chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge. “[Tony] came back and said, ‘Go and find a name, we’re starting a label,’ ” recalls Choudhury, a 30-year music industry veteran who has held senior positions at all three majors and now heads AirAsia’s music division. In December they unveiled Asian pop label RedRecords, a joint venture between AirAsia Group and UMG based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “We want Asian talent to follow their dreams,” says Fernandes, “and if the artist is the right fit, we will do our best to make those dreams a reality.”