It’s been a busy and successful year for Six60, but isn’t it always for Dunedin’s all-encompassing pop rockers?
The band released their fourth studio album, Castle St, in October, which lead singer Matiu Walter hailed as being their “greatest work to date,” and duly watched it become their fourth chart-topping album in Aotearoa.
And after a run of ‘Six60 Saturdays’ shows around the country, they unveiled their new label Massive Records, a joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment New Zealand, earlier this month.
Combining Sony’s promotional power with Six60’s musical nous, Massive Records has ambitions to be a “label run by artists for artists in the modern world.”
The label already has three artists on its roster: reggae rockers Coterie and rising singer-songwriters HINA and Spencer Coyle.
Coterie, who featured on this year’s ‘Six60 Saturdays’ lineup, also had the privilege of being the first artist to have music come out on Massive Records, when their self-titled debut album was released two weeks ago (it’s already reached the Top 20 in both New Zealand and Australia).
“They’ve laid out the blueprint to all their success… one thing they’ve helped us embrace is a healthy disregard for the industry rules,” the WA-based band of brothers told Rolling Stone AU/NZ recently about Six60’s mentoring impact.
The Sony Music Entertainment New Zealand team sound just as excited about working alongside Six60. “Six60 share our ethos when it comes to finding and developing new artists and the pathway to success. Fostering and amplifying talent is at the core of what we do, and I cannot wait to see our partnership flourish,” Vanessa Picken, Chair & CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Australia & New Zealand, said.
To mark the launch of Massive Records, we caught up with Six60 to find out about the label, the first three artists on the roster, and what the future holds.
Rolling Stone AU/NZ: What first inspired this venture? Why now?
Six60: When we started, we created our own label to give us the chance to have a career. We feel like now we have built the knowledge through our own experience to help others develop as well.
Where did the name for the label come from?
The original name for our company was Massive Entertainment, so Massive Records was a logical name. We made the original name while still in university living at Castle Street to reflect our aspirations.
Will it just be run out of your Auckland studio for now? Any plans to expand elsewhere in New Zealand?
Our Auckland studio is our home base for sure, but we also work closely with the Sony teams in New Zealand and Australia, and recently have worked on cross promotional deals in North American and Asia. We don’t feel like the label will be limited to New Zealand, but more about making New Zealand artists’ global opportunities a major priority.
What made Sony Music Entertainment Australia and New Zealand the right partner for the project?
Sony Music New Zealand originally approached us with the idea for the venture, and we love Kim Boshier and her team. We worked very closely with them on the Mitch James project that Ji produced. Now with Vanessa Picken taking over the Australian team and her experience in the modern music industry, we feel like it’s a great combo.
What were you looking for in your initial signings? Drive and ambition?
Drive and ambition 100% — artists who are self-starters like we were. The days of being able to sing and letting the label run everything else in your career are long over and something we never did. We see our signings as partners, not employees or products. Someone you want to collaborate with and partner with is really what we are after.
How exciting is it to see Coterie doing so well both at home and Australia?
It’s amazing. We see a lot of ourselves in the Coterie boys – the desire to make it and willingness to work. They are great talents, and we expect them to be a major part of the NZ/AU music scene in the next year.
How has it been having Coterie at Six60 Saturdays? It sounds like they really loved the experience.
It’s like having your brothers on tour, they have really impressed the crowds. A real advantage we have at our label is we can give our clients when ready amazing live looks, experience and exposure.
Tell us about HINA and Spencer Coyle.
HINA and Spencer are both really talented. HINA blends a really beautiful vibe of two cultures, embracing both her Māori and Celtic origins. We’re really excited about what she has coming.
Spencer is one of the most talented young all-round musicians we have ever been around. He can produce, he can write, he can sign, he’s a pleasure to work with, and we have a massive collaboration coming up for him with another great artist that people should be excited for next year.
It really feels like 2022 marks a turning point for artists putting themselves first in the music industry. So many cancelling tours for their mental health etc. Do you want to foster a relationship between Massive Records and its artists that continually puts them first?
That is really where the partnership aspect of Massive comes in. Our artists are going to be the masters of their own destiny. They have us to guide them, give them experience, help with promotion and creation of music, but they will be in the driver’s seat.
Artists often become isolated on record labels, adrift from other musicians on the roster – it becomes overly competitive as a result. Do you want to create a proper whānau at Massive Records, a place where HINA, Spencer and the Coterie boys can even work and learn from one another?
100%. We feature on Coterie’s debut album and really wanted to set the standards on building a new collaborative relationship across the board. HINA and Spencer on a song or Coterie would be great so we’d love to push for it. We are too small of a country not to all get behind each other and that is essential to Massive, everyone on the roster will need to support each other.
What lessons have you picked up – good or bad – from the music industry over your career?
Countless! One big thing we learned is that you can control how hard you work. While you can’t make others love your music, you can control your effort and you need to be real and build a real love with your fanbase. Our fans have always been the additional members of the band.
Any other artist signings in the pipeline?
We have one or two on the way! We don’t want to grow to quickly and lose the human touch.
Any plans to do a Massive Records showcase in 2023?
We just had Coterie’s album release showcase (in Auckland). We’d love to do more of that once the music is all ready from HINA and Spencer.
And what’s the Massive Records mission statement? What’s your ultimate goal for the label?
To nurture career artists, who achieve their dreams and have staying power. To grow legacy artists who become Massive.