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December 8, 2009
The Rock Boat-Photo Courtesy of Sixthman

The Rock Boat-Photo Courtesy of Sixthman

Work life for me has always been a delicate balance of finding something I’m passionate about and how that fits into my life in the bigger sense. Now that my husband and I are both in the market for full-time work (click here to hear all about the highs and lows of job loss), it sometimes makes you look at what you’ve done in the past career-wise to see if you’d in fact, like to revisit it.

Thankfully, I’ve enjoyed most of the jobs I’ve had throughout my career (give or take … bosses, now that’s another story, ahem, I digress). Before I became a full-time freelance writer, I was a publicist-a senior publicist to be exact–at a top entertainment boutique firm in Atlanta. Most of my clients were in the food realm, but I did assist on other accounts, and one of them, was by far the most fun … Sixthman.

This niche travel company has booked some of the best known musicians in the world on its music cruises, which essentially put musicians and their fans on the same boat at sea. On any given ship you get to see impromptu performances, as well as your favorite singer hanging out on the Lido Deck. Sixthman charter boats have booked everyone from The Barenaked Ladies to Josh Rouse to Lynyrd Skynyrd … a ship full of fans signing “Sweet Home Alabama” in unison is something, let me tell you. Oh–and even this guy, whose time on a Sixthman ship created quite the Internet buzz with this photo.

I recently got a chance to chat with Sixthman founder Andy Levine who, by the way, seems to have mastered the balance of one’s passion, one’s work, and one’s life.

Partial Sixthman Cayamo 2008 Staff

Partial Sixthman Cayamo 2008 Staff

dp What made you start Sixthman?

Sixthman I believed that artists were going to need relationships with companies that would keep them connected to their best asset, their fans.
What was the first cruise you guys put together?

In 2001, Sister Hazel’s street team demanded a convention with the band as a thank you for all their hard work in helping to make the band successful. They were right so we invited 400 of them on a cruise with the band for Labor Day Weekend. We were all scared but it was awesome.

dp What’s behind the name of the company?

Sixthman I was the sixthman on my high school basketball team. The sixth man in basketball is a player who is not a starter but comes off the bench much more often than other reserves, often being the first player to be substituted in. The sixth man often plays minutes equal to or exceeding some of the starters and posts similar statistics. He is often a player who can play multiple positions, hence his utility in substituting often.

And then in college, I played in a band and booked all the gigs. I was not very good but I got to play acoustic guitar.

Then I began managing the band Sister Hazel and felt like I was able to have an impact on connecting them with their fans and as a musician relating them on a different level.

dp Who would be the ultimate booking for you?

Sixthman James Taylor

dp Who are some of your favorite bands?

Sixthman Zac Brown, Kings of Leon, Jackson Browne, John Mayer, Marc Broussard

dp What do you hope someone gets out of this type of cruise experience?

Sixthman The vacation of their lifetime and meeting some new best friends.

dp What’s different about this experience as opposed to just going on a regular ship?

Sixthman Everyone is there for the same reason and has a lot in common.

dp What’s new for the 2010 cruises?

Sixthman VH1 Best Cruise Ever, Kid Rock’s Chillin’ the Most Cruise, Time Life’s Malt Shop Memories Cruise, and more pending strategic partnerships with some video game and television companies…

dp What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Sixthman Hang with my family, friends and either watch football or play golf.

dp While the economy has affected the travel industry as a whole, has it impacted the niche travel companies such as yours?

Sixthman Our guests have been impacted so we are shortening our cruises and making them cheaper to make it more affordable. So far, we are encouraged by sales for next year.

dp What’s the craziest thing (that’s publishable) that has happened on one of the cruises?

Sixthman 7 artists missed the ship in Cozumel last year because they were partying too hard, and they had to charter a plane to meet the ship the next day in Grand Cayman so they could play their sets.

*danapop note – I was on this ship. Good times.*

Some Sixthman staff taking a dip in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Some Sixthman staff taking a dip in Ocho Rios, Jamaica

dp How many people does it take to put a trip together?

Sixthman We have 25 people working all year on 10 cruises so I guess 2.5 people per cruise. Just kidding. I would say to do one event would take 5-6 but it is scalable if they are spread out.

dp I know you’re based out of Atlanta, how does living there influence your work?

Sixthman This city is dominated by our target demographic and has some great companies we work with. Southern Hospitality bleeds over into our culture and our guests really like that.

Ari Hest performing on Cayamo

Ari Hest performing on Cayamo

dp When I was on the Cayamo cruise in 2008, I loved all the impromptu (or what appeared to be) performances and artists playing together. How much of that is planned pre-trip?

Sixthman We always encourage it but it can’t be planned more than a couple of hours beforehand. Artists don’t work that way, but when it happens, we love it.