Record Labels

Label Look: How Range Music Aims to Create a Path to Success for Artists and Managers

Range Partners
Danilo Lewis

Top Row L-R: Chris Thomas, Michel Harrison, Jack Minihan, Greg Johnson, Matt Graham
Bottom Row L-R: Tyler Henry, Melissa Ruderman, Evan Winiker, Rachel Douglas

About two and a half years ago, artist manager Tyler Henry found himself in the unenviable position of stepping away from his then-client Doja Cat -- who was then on the cusp of exploding into the mainstream with her No. 1 single “Say So.”

“I was just over capacity with my clients,” says Henry, who this May joined the recently-launched Range Media as a managing partner. “I was in London with PARTYNEXTDOOR working on his album, and as an independent manager and management company, it was just so difficult to not only operate in two time zones but to deal with two superstars.”

Incidents like this one -- having to step away from rising stars -- are part of the inspiration behind Range Music, a new record label that launched late last month under the Range Media Partners umbrella. Through key partnerships with Capitol Music Group and Virgin Music & Artist Label Services -- which will jointly handle global physical and distribution for all Range Music releases -- the label will function as an in-house incubator for Range Media managers' young clients, with upstream potential to Capitol Records. Creative resources will be provided to the label’s artists via a strategic partnership with Henry’s creative studio STURDY, which the manager launched prior to joining Range.

“We found it difficult as managers on our own, with a lack of real substantial resources, to develop talent and be along for the ride for the long run,” says Range Media managing partner Matt Graham, who himself lost future stars including Jack Harlow (now managed by Range) and producer Andrew Watt earlier in his career after trying and failing to get them label and publishing deals. Now, thanks to Range’s partnerships with Capitol and Virgin, its managers have, as Graham says: “an immediate pipeline to make decisions quickly on our own volition."

Range Media was launched in Sept. 2020 by former Entertainment One chief strategy officer Peter Micelli and a coalition of former CAA, WME and UTA agents amid a pandemic-related agency exodus last year. In addition to Henry and Graham, the music division is overseen by managing partners Jack Minihan, Melissa Ruderman, Chris Thomas and Evan Winiker along with partners Michele Harrison, Greg Johnson and Rachel Douglas.

The impetus behind the formation of Range Media, as Graham puts it, was to build out a company of top industry managers to provide “safe harbor” for emerging creators and their young managers. “We are a banded group of managers that have our 10,000 hours," says Graham, "and we can touch anybody in the music business, whether it's a lawyer, an agent, an A&R or a producer."

The label will also provide ample opportunities for collaboration with the film and TV side of the business, which reps such big-name filmmakers as Michael Bay, M. Night Shyamalan, Luca Guadagnino and Gareth Edwards. “What we heard from labels, and obviously specifically Capitol, is that the earlier we can be involved in these conversations, the more effective we can be at building a strategy that's going to work for the soundtrack and for the filmmaker and properly finance and staff it,” adds Graham.

In June, Range Media received a burst of attention when it was reported that Mariah Carey had departed Roc Nation to join her longtime manager Ruderman at the company. The arrival of the superstar served to burnish the credentials of Range, which already boasted such top-tier music clients as PARTYNEXTDOOR, WondaGurl, Justin Tranter and Wale.

More recently, Range’s music clientele was bolstered by the additions of rapper Jack Harlow (who joined the company alongside manager Chris Thomas), songwriter-producer duo Nova Wav (Beyonce, H.E.R., DJ Khaled) and songwriter-producer Sean Douglas (alongside manager Rachel Douglas), who has worked with artists such as Lizzo, Little Big Town, Thomas Rhett, Jimmie Allen and Dan + Shay.

Range Music itself has yet to announce any artist signings, though Graham says the label is currently engaged in “a number of conversations” on that front. As for signing Range’s existing music management clients -- including those who are preparing to exit expiring label deals -- Graham says the company approaches those conversations “more like service providers” as to avoid any conflicts of interest. That said, he adds, “[artists] already working with our internal resources and those teams -- our marketing people, our sync people, our digital people -- so it makes sense that if they want to put out new releases they would entrust those teams with that new product."

Though no artists are yet signed to the label, Range Media’s music clients collectively represent billions of streams and multiple top 10 singles on the Billboard charts. Henry’s client HARV produced Justin Bieber’s recent single “Peaches,” which topped the Hot 100 in April, while Jack Harlow just scored a No. 2 debut on the pop tally with his featured role on Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby.” On the country music front, Range client Midland has tallied two top five hits on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart with “Drinkin’ Problem” and “Burn Out” and had a No. 1 country album with their sophomore set Let It Roll in 2019.

Among other Range clients, powerhouse songwriter Justin Tranter boasts a total of 65 RIAA certifications (including two Diamond records) for his work on tracks by artists including Ariana Grande, Dua Lipa and Lady Gaga; PARTYNEXTDOOR boasts over 16 billion streams across platforms as an artist, writer and producer, according to Range; songwriter, producer and newly-minted label executive WondaGurl has over 10 billion streams, according to Range; and rapper Wale has over 3 billion streams, according to Range. Meanwhile, rapper D Smoke was up for Best New Artist and Best Rap Album at this year’s Grammys.

Going forward, Range Music will be looking to sign artists from Range Media’s existing management roster as well as those being managed outside the company. To lure the latter, the company will be offering one particularly attractive incentive for young managers: The chance to acquire a stake in clients’ label deals from the get-go.

“I never understood why young managers didn’t get pieces of the record deals when they were bringing artists to labels, that was always odd to me,” says Graham, who adds, “If we can become a home where managers can also be a part of those deals and get pieces of the masters, particularly when we're on Virgin, before we've upstreamed to Capitol, I think that's going to be very appealing to a lot of managers."

On the film and TV side, Range has already brought several soundtrack opportunities into Capitol, with hopes to “convert [those] in the next month or so,” says Graham. This cross-pollination approach also offers the company’s music clients potential on-screen opportunities, with Range Media managing partner Jack Minihan saying that Wale landed his first major film role in Michael Bay’s next film Ambulance after Range connected him with the director. “That extends out to artists we hope to sign at this label that we don't manage,” says Minihan. “We want to provide opportunities for talent to break into film, and vice versa. It should be a two-way street, and we've already begun converting on that in real ways.”