• Jaxsta appoints founder and CEO of Vampr Josh Simons as new CEO
  • Has support of rich-lister and Jaxsta’s new substantial shareholder Richard White
  • Focused on bringing together Vampr and Jaxsta business units

Halfway through and 2023 is shaping up to be a big year for Jaxsta (ASX:JXT), the world’s largest dedicated database of official music credits.

Having signed up every major label’s music data, the company yesterday announced a new CEO – Josh Simons, the founder and head of Vampr, which JXT acquired on June 1.

A musician himself, 32-year-old Simons co-founded Vampr in 2015 with Hunters and Collectors singer Barry Palmer and originally took on the role of chief strategy officer at JXT.

Dubbed “the LinkedIn for creatives”, Vampr has grown to become the world’s largest social-professional network for musicians, with 1.3 million users.

Simons replaces Beth Appleton, who will step down from the role immediately.  The English-born Simons has the backing of rich-lister and WiseTech Global (ASX:WTC) founder and CEO Richard White, who last week became a substantial shareholder with a 9.64% holding in JXT as part of its $3 million capital raise.

In an ASX announcement informing the market of Simons’ appointment, White, who is also a keen musician and used to repair guitars for AC/DC and The Angels, said he’d had his eye on Simons for several years during his tenure at Vampr.

“I have been impressed by his tenacity, focus, vision and particularly the ability to build a commercial model that grows and retains revenue and customers,” he said.

“Now that Vampr is a part of Jaxsta, Josh will, no doubt, contribute his drive, skills and experience to the larger business.”

The new CEO also received support from Paul Wiltshire, an existing Jaxsta substantial shareholder and founder/CEO of global B2B music rights and licensing marketplace platform Songtradr.

Furthermore, in May JXT launched VINYL.com, a global music products marketplace, featuring a deep catalogue of more than 50,000 vinyl records across all genres.

Stockhead caught up with Simons to talk about his strong pedigree in the music industry, vision for Jaxsta, White’s music prowess and Swift-flation.

Firstly Josh, congrats on the appointment as the new Jaxsta CEO. You were the founder and CEO of Vampr – how do you see the synergy of the two companies?

“We were both tackling a similar problem but coming at it from different angles, where neither approach was necessarily better,” Simons said.

“Where Vampr took a more social approach towards building your network in music, Jaxsta took a more IMDB-type approach.

“Now that we are one, we can lean into the best parts of each.

“That’s what we’re working on right now from a product standpoint, and it’s very exciting.”

What attracted you to the music industry?

“My grandfather started a music publishing company close to 100 years ago,” Simons said.

“It went on to become what we know today as Universal Music Publishing Group, which he ran for many years in the UK.

“He signed Tom Jones among many others and so I’ve just always been around the business side of music.

“I’ve also had experience on the other side as an artist and songwriter with my band Buchanan, which had a pretty decent run in the early 2010s.

“I started working on Vampr in response to observing some of the challenges facing the broader music industry during my time as an artist and songwriter.”

Wisetech Global founder and CEO Richard White last week became a substantial shareholder in Jaxsta. Beyond the technology sector White is a muso himself. How well-suited is White’s involvement with Jaxsta and what do you think has attracted him to the company?

“I’ve been fortunate to build a relationship with Richard over the past few years and had always wanted to formally get involved with a businessman whose success is awe-inspiring, but also a man who fundamentally loves music and is supportive of young, exciting technology companies working in the space,” Simons said.

“I’m very grateful that we have his support.”

White said he has been following you “for a number of years as the founder and CEO of Vampr”. In return, what do you know about White’s prowess with a guitar?

“Down to which pedal boards he uses! But I’m sworn to secrecy,” Simons said (without anymore elaboration).

 You said that Jaxsta has a clear vision and product roadmap going into FY24, and that’s a credit to the board, former CEO Beth Appleton and the team. What are your priorities as CEO in the short term and where do you see it heading in the medium and long-term?

“In the short term, we need to focus on bringing together parts of the Vampr and Jaxsta business units,” Simons said.

“Medium to long term I think you’ll see our attention shift to building out the Vinyl.com experience with exclusives and other collectables, and then of course the biggest focus is getting the company to profitability and showing significant gains in revenue.”

Economists in Australia are gearing up for Swift-flation saying the Australian tour of megastar Taylor Swift in 2024 could see attendees splurging not only on tickets but travel, hotel rooms, hospitality, clothes and accessories. Furthermore, Beyonce`s tour in Sweden was said to have kept inflation higher in the country in May. What does this show about the role of the music industry in economies?

“It shows that music’s role in and impact to our economy is incredibly important,” Simons said.

“For these same reasons, we applaud recent and frankly long overdue funding announcements, reforms to existing music bodies, and the creation of new ones like Music Australia and Sound NSW, at both Federal and State government levels.

“On the issue of inflation, broadly speaking, of course we all want to see it brought under control.

“These cases underline how critical live music is to the economy and the attention it requires.”


 Support for a unique global tech stock

Red Leaf Securities led the recent $3 million placement for JXT. 

“We have been following Jaxsta for a long time and remain bullish on this unique global tech company,” CEO John Athanasiou told Stockhead.

“It has AI capabilities via being the world’s largest owner of official music credits, whilst having exposure to the growing vinyl market.

“It is the owner of Vinyl.com and Vampr – the LinkedIn for musicians that already has over 1 million users.

“Owning the music credit data will improve the cross-selling opportunities between the Vinyl.com and Vamper users.

“We see a lot of upside in Jaxsta and it is not surprising that Songtradr and Richard White can see the vision too.”

The JXT share price today: