Twenty-three Australian music managers have established a trade body to address issues facing colleagues and their artists.

Twenty-three Australian music managers have established a trade body to address issues facing colleagues and their artists.

The new organization, the Assn. of Artist Managers (AAM), is a breakaway from the Australian chapter of the Music Managers Forum (MMF), which has been in operation since 1991.

Many AAM founders were previous board directors of the MMF. Six resigned at an AGM March 2006 after a period of in-fighting.

The MMF's Australian director, Nathan Brenner, claims the previous board left "chaotic or non-existent" financial records, wiped out data stored in the association's computer, and has refused to cooperate with the current MMF board.

The AAM's initial steering committee includes Bill Cullen of One Louder Management (Paul Kelly, End of Fashion, Sarah Blasko), John Watson of John Watson Management (Wolfmother, Missy Higgins), Kim Thomas of Yak Management (The Whitlams), Gregg Donovan of 2 Step Management (Grinspoon, Airbourne) and Alistair Cranney of What Management (The Audreys, Hirst & Greene).

Other members represent multi-platinum acts Powderfinger, Darren Hayes, Hoodoo Gurus, John Butler Trio, the Hilltop Hoods and Evermore.

"We thought it was important for a body of experienced managers to address issues facing managers and artists in Australia," Donovan told Billboard.biz.

"Our roles have changed to the point we run a music company, [more] than just management, and we have to see the whole big picture."

An office in Sydney and a managing board will be set up early 2007.

The point of difference with the MMF, Donovan says, is "not everyone can become a member of the AAM. You have to be contributing to the music and management industries internationally and in Australia."

The AAM plans to work with state music bodies and songwriter associations in the areas of education and mentoring. "We want partnerships that will help strengthen the management industry in Australia for the benefit of all Australian artists," Donovan says.

It also wants to work with the MMF. "We are not in competition." But the MMF's Brenner, who previously managed Split Enz and Men At Work, warns, "There must be a public goodwill test for any organization the MMF works with. Any organization that holds itself out as being representative of its members, should be democratic, open and accountable in the way it conducts itself."

In the past eight months, the Melbourne-based MMF has opened a new branch in the state of Tasmania, increased membership in regional areas, and set up alliances with the government export body Austrade, and associations as the Assn. of Independent Record Labels (AIR) and MusicNSW.