James On Paid Leave?

MAMA head Dean James is on gardening leave and is only saying there will be an official statement “in due course.”

James, who’s been away from his desk for nearly two weeks, wouldn’t say what prompted his sudden departure from the British-based live music company.

“It may be the other way around and it may be me that doesn’t want to be there anymore,” he told Pollstar. He said nothing had been decided “one way or the other.”

“I’m sorry but you’ll just have to wait for the statement,” was how James responded to further questions.

Lloyds Development Capital , whose chairman Richard Thompson has taken over the reins at MAMA, stumped up most of the $11.7 million that enabled James to buy the company from HMV, just before the troubled entertainment retailer went into administration.

When the story broke, CMU quoted a MAMA representative saying James is on leave and Lloyds has subsequently denied that James has been pushed out. However, there are widespread music industry rumours that James has been booted and changes are imminent at the top of MAMA.

“I don’t expect they’ll be answering any calls about [James],” a former MAMA staffer told Pollstar.

An LDC spokesman has subsequently denied James has be and a large chunk of Mean Fiddler’s venue and tour promoting business.

HMV acquired MAMA in a £65 million deal in 2010 but in December LDC funded James’s management buyout of (most of) the company.

HMV hung on to the Hammersmith Apollo, which a year ago it sold to CTS Eventim and AEG for a reported £32 million as the high street retailer tried to reduce its £180 million debt.

At the time James became sole chief exec but has so far spent less than nine months in the job.

In that time he’s overseen the buy back of Lovebox Festival, another asset that HMV had kept, and the acquisition of London’s 450-capacity Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen.

The demise of HMV has also caused indie magazine The Fly to lose its place as the most-read music title in Britain.

The distribution of the free-issue paper, which was available in HMV stores, has fallen from 100,630 copies in February to 55,580 in June.