Former MAMA boss Dean James launches Sixth PLC with India ties

The co-founder and former CEO of live music promoter MAMA Group, Dean James, has launched a new music company – Sixth Plc – with backing from one of India’s largest conglomerates.

Sixth PLC promises to offer artists funding and support in every aspect of their careers, including their studio recordings. But unlike ‘360’ deals at record companies, Sixth will be setup to place live income at the centre of its artist business.

The firm, with offices are based in Hoxton, London, promises to use data analytics to ensure it picks the rights artists and makes the right spending decisions. It says this approach will ‘fuel activities across an integrated artist-to-live operation’.

It’s also ready to acquire: James says he has the backing to swoop for businesses as he focuses on live music, data analytics and artist partnerships sectors.

James founded Sixth in tandem with one of India’s largest ‘family’ conglomerates – Apeejay Surrendra, owners of Typhoo Tea in the UK. Sethu Vaidynathan, a senior director and family member of Apeejay, joins James and McCann on the board as Chairman and co-founder.

James will act as CEO of Sixth, with the former head of business affairs for Shazam, Matt McCann, as COO. Co-founder of Nettwerk Music Group Dan Fraser – whose credentials include work with Stereophonics and Passenger as well as Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies and Coldplay – will become a non-executive director.

James was previously CEO of Mean Fiddler Group and as co-CEO and co-founder of Mama Group he acquired well-known music operations such as Hammersmith Apollo, G-A-Y, Lovebox Festival, Great Escape and Supervision Management before MAMA’s eventual sale to HMV in 2010.

Said Sixth Chairman and senior director Apeejay Surrendra, Sethu Vaidynathan: “Matt and Dean’s combined track record of founding and growing successful companies is undeniable. Under their stewardship, Sixth will grow into a global music powerhouse, I’ve no doubt.”

Commented CEO Dean James: “I’m tremendously excited to finally be able to announce Sixth; we’re building a smart new global business and are delighted to have found a partner in Apeejay Surrendra that understands our vision – it will be interesting to watch the impact a company of its type will have as a new entrant to the music business. It’s also great to welcome back Matt McCann to the music industry – the industry will be stronger with him in it.”

COO Matt McCann added: “We’re embarking on a new journey with Sixth, with an ambitious roadmap in hand. Our approach will be heavily data centric and we aim to operate across several markets in order to build a successful 21st Century music company.”

James has form as an entrepreneur: in 2000, he floated Mean Fiddler’s dotcom business before its eventual sale to Live Nation and Denis Desmond in 2005, serving as COO and CEO during the period.

In 2005, James co-founded and served as co-CEO of MAMA Group, a business that became one of the largest live music and artist management groups in the world, acquiring the Hammersmith Apollo and Mean Fiddler in the process.

As the sole CEO, James ran MAMA following its acquisition in 2010 by HMV, before leading a management buyout in 2012.Music Business Worldwide

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