Access All Areas with Safehouse Management's Lynn Cosgrave

Words by: Polly Lavin
Posted: 15/9/11 10:21

Lynn CosgraveIn the business over 20 years, Lynn Cosgrave is the powerhouse behind Carl Cox and has previously managed DJs including John Digweed, CJ Mackintosh, Jeremy Healy and Danny Rampling. Whilst, working with Ministry of Sound in London she set up and ran the MOS compilations division which under her management accounted for 15.6% of the overall sector share.

Under her leadership within 3 years the label went onto turnover £22million. Success at  Ministry of Sound led Sony to recruit her for the post of vice president of the labels dance music division, the first female to undertake such role.

After departing Sony Cosgrave started a company called ‘Trust the DJ’ and raised £5.5 million in venture capital.

She later sold ‘Trust the DJ’ and her current company ‘Safehouse Management’ is behind Carl Cox’s Tuesday night at Space Revolution’ and Friday nights live concept ‘Come Together’ and manages bookings, event production, promotion, sponsorship deals, remix and recording work.

We grabbed 5 minutes with her to talk about being a woman in a world dominated by men and her thoughts on the future of music management.

You around since 1988 How did it all start for you?
I went to college in London and studied to be a hotel manager but my hobby was music so I started DJ-ing for the entertainments union. After 4 years of college I took a sabbatical and was doing well with DJ gigs and going to Spectrum and Rage at Heaven with Paul Oakenfold and Carl Cox, I got the bug. Then one day I was DJ-ing and the DJ coming to take over from me was an hour late, I couldn’t get to the next show because of this.

I realised these guys needed organising and started a DJ agency at 19 years of age. I also gave out flyers for club nights like Nicky Holloway’s and was doing his bookings. I had a big love of garage music and was the first person to bring Erick Morillo to the UK to work and in the end the Ministry asked me to get involved in their nights
When I started in the dance scene there were no rules, now it's a proper industry. I was just as hard as nails and stood up to them, for me because I had a lot of the DJs behind me I was considered one of the guys, throughout my entire career...

You went from managing over 40 DJs at one point to kind of a sole focus on Carl Cox why did your management style evolve like this?
To be fair when I had the agency I sold the company so I had my handful of DJs that I really liked. Most issues in management are when the phone rings and there is a problem. With ‘Trust the DJ’ there was so much work with licensing, sponsorship, merchandise and copyright so I sold the company and picked up a few people I wanted to work with. Concentrating on people like John Digweed and Carl Cox.

So, you're a woman amidst a sea of men. How hard has it been over the years to get respect?
I think you’ve got to earn respect, I’ve been lucky enough that the things I’ve done have been fairly successful and proper grafting and working hard always gains respect.

And what were the hardest obstacles to overcome in terms of being a woman?
When I started in the dance scene there were no rules, now it’s a proper industry. I was just hard as nails and stood up to them, for me because I had a lot of the DJs behind me I was considered one of the guys, throughout my entire career. Real women problems like balancing a family and a business has been a huge obstacle. I’m a straight up business woman and as hard a worker as any man. That’s my biggest obstacle on how to balance both.

Lynn and Carl on MotorbikeWhat qualities do you think women bring to management over men?
A motherly instinct, organisation skills, women are better organisers, women have got a lot of stamina is well to be honest.

David Levy mentioned at IMS that promoters threatened to break his legs over the years, what's the roughest threat you encountered and did any of them actually materialise?
I’ve had a gun in my mouth at the early Orbital raves. I got a copy of somebody else’s mailing list and they took me inside a dark room and put a gun in my mouth, but I thought “I’m not worth killing for. They’re not going to do time over me.” Thankfully nothing like that ever happened again but I was followed home by security in Ministry of Sound during bad times with that company.

What are your thoughts on why women seem to be breaking through in Germany but barriers still seem to exist in the UK?
There are few women in the UK really impacting. You’ve got to be successful with your peers to break through and all the bigger DJs have to have a bigger DJ bringing them up through the ranks, people don’t get the breaks.

You developed paths for your artists into remixing, production, fashion shows, sponsorship etc where do you think dance music is at right now and what are the next big trends?
The next generation bringing them through, keeping it alive, when it gets too big it always seems to implode, then it goes back underground and it starts to come back and regenerate again. Dance music hasn’t really evolved I just get the feeling its coming back around and I think at the moment the music is gone back underground. In England anyway, there are little pockets re-building and starting to come together.

The whole dubstep movement is a new sound and quite refreshing to see it in the charts. I think anyone who is breaking through with a unique sound is what our scene has always been about so it’s going round in circles again. Because of the internet music sales have also changed shape but people still want to go out and party so it’s all about the album and the artist and touring.

What's do you think is the main aspect of being a good manager?
Management is about making a plan for your artists for 5 to 10 years and following that plan. Creating a business plan, the imagery, graphic logos, the direction, the music everything has got to come together. In the first year you should be aiming to have the first 2 years plan achieved.I think some of the bigger DJs have stopped love of music for the money. Their passion for music is driven by money and as such their attitudes have changed, a good DJ at the top is driven by music...

How have you dealt with difficult artists?
Told them the truth. I’m very upfront and straight, you can’t fight the truth. My attitude to it is if an artist doesn’t want to be managed and they start fighting you, you just walk away, if it takes a lot of time and effort they are the person that is the star, so, why waste your time.

What do you believe are the biggest challenges to dance music of present and for managers?
The internet is the biggest challenge because the internet opens up the world. The scene is splintered with different scenes and a saturated market. So, you really have to ask yourself how do you make your artist recognisable in such a saturated market and make something that is really unique.

 There was a time when dance music was taboo for investors and corporate companies why have these big companies changed their approach to EDM?
Because they can see a way to monetise it. Companies only get involved when they can make money themselves, I don’t think they really understood the culture in the past that’s why they didn’t invest.

And the whole scene becoming 'sanitised' to some degree what are your feelings on this?
I think some of the bigger DJs have stopped love of music for the money. Their passion for music is driven by money and as such their attitudes have changed, a good DJ at the top is driven by music.

Who you watching in the underground?
Paul El Hornet Harding from Pendulum, Subfocus, Jon Rundell, Nic Fanciulli, Yousef. In the German scene Magda and Heidi.

10 years in Space with Carl Cox's night this year why do you think this event so successful and lasted?
It's driven by a passion of music from both sides, Carl's and mine. Coupled with Space being an amazing club, they allowed us to do our own thing, the door prices have not been high or been pushed up and for us people should have access to the music.

If they come to see they should have a good party, be looked after and we've done all those things, we give back to people and people give to us. I don't know any other club where it has been based on one DJ.

There are brands in Ibiza but one DJ to successfully hold it together, we've a family and our concept is Carl Cox and friends and that is how we treat people.


 Come Together Closing Party  - 16th September
Carl Cox - The Revolution Closing Party  - 20th September

Safehouse Management Online
Web Site Facebook Carl Cox @ Space


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