Mama founder launches events agency BeSixth
Live music veteran Dean James, formerly CEO of Mean Fiddler and Mama & Company, and Gavin Aldrich, managing director of youth marketing firm Campus Group, have launched BeSixth, a live events agency with offices in London and Sydney.
The pair, which also own multipurpose London venues Oval Space and the Pickle Factory, say BeSixth – which incorporates Campus Group, as well as a production division, BeLive – will provide clients with a “credible and effective route to bring brands into the worlds of entertainment, music and live experience”.
James left Mama, which he co-founded in 2005, in 2013, and established a new artist services business, Sixth, the following year. (Under his leadership, Mama acquired festivals and venues including the Great Escape, Lovebox, Wilderness and the Hammersmith Apollo. Live Nation acquired the company in 2014.)
BeLive client services include brand activations, experiential and live content, event sponsorship, event production, festivals, pop-up shops and artist partnerships.
The company expects to announce details of a third office, in the US, in the coming months.
“Matching artist and brand profiles correctly allows for campaigns that really tap into youth culture”
James, BeSixth’s chairman, says: “The youth demographic is the largest in the world and music is key to reaching them. Brands want to engage with these audiences; they appreciate the importance of authenticity and understand music is key to reaching young audiences effectively.
“BeSixth’s offering is designed to allow brands to access the best live experience and entertainment has to offer. Matching artist and brand profiles correctly allows for campaigns that really tap into youth culture, generating results you can’t get via other means.”
Adds managing director Leslie: “As venue owners and event programmers, we work face to face with our audience 24/7. The detailed audience analysis and targeting this enables, combined with our unrivalled music expertise, means we’re able to deliver creative strategy for brands that celebrates shared passions through experience.
“Combining our existing and new offerings under the new BeSixth brand is all about utilising these capabilities for new brands in new markets, making sure they’re in the right place with the right execution in order to maximise impact.”
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MelodyVR is a company specialising in virtual reality broadcasts of live gigs. Founder Steven Hancock said his firm’s mission is not about replacing the live experience, but about making it accessible to people who can’t get to a show. He said everyone in the rights chain gets a cut of the revenue, including venues and agents as well as artists and publishers and labels. However, this is still an emerging technology, so the revenues aren’t huge, he added.
Jules O’Riordan – better known as DJ Judge Jules – said as VR hardware has become more affordable, it’s become more popular. But he added that it has less potential in the dance music perspective, because the genre is less focussed on watching a stage.
Gary Cohen of management firm ATC said brand and artist partnerships are evolving rapidly, with content creation being a core focus right now. “It’s all about ‘the thumb stop’,” he said. “What branded content will make someone stop scrolling on their timeline and press play.”
Brands are under pressure to be entertaining, and are looking for ways to hit the passion points of their potential customers, he advised. But more important was authenticity. “People are more than prepared to feel good about a brand that brings them closer to the artists they love, but it also has to be entertaining.”
Chris Hassell of UK creative agency Ralph, said brand partnerships today are about collaboration – can each side offer each other something?
“People are more than prepared to feel good about a brand that brings them closer to the artists they love, but it also has to be entertaining”
O’Riordan said there’s a temptation to do deals which are good for short term cashflow but not great for long term development of the band.
So, how can the industry work best with brands? Hassell said that the earlier an artist gets involved the better, because the creative will require input from the act. However, sometimes lawyers and management get involved first, which can cause hold-ups.
The recent growth of added-value ticketing, such as paying more for things like meet-and-greet opportunities was considered, but that these options should be considered on a case by case basis. It needs to be right for the artist, cautioned O’Riordan.
Cohen said this is becoming more popular, but that’s it’s crucial that managers balance the need to make as much money as possible on the road, with making sure the hardcore fans that are buying these extras get value for money.
Chair Rhian Jones asked what was the one thing that will add value to creatives? Hassell’s opinion was to break down barriers to artists. “Get artists more involved creatively,” he said. Cohen’s advice was to have the artist as a stakeholder, so the partnerships are true collaborations.
O’Riordan said it’s important for artists to understand who their fan base is. If you understand what makes your fans tick, you’ll know what partnerships to do that don’t alienate them.