Michael Gudinski and Michael Chugg Reunited as Frontier Touring, Chugg Entertainment Form Joint Venture

Michael Chugg and Michael Gudinski
Photo by Justin Ma

Michael Chugg and Michael Gudinski

It’s the feel-good story in touring: Michael Gudinski and Michael Chugg are back together again. The legendary Australian promoters have struck an exclusive joint venture between their respective companies Frontier Touring and Chugg Entertainment that will reunite the pair once more in business.

The arrangement was announced Tuesday, 40 years since the entrepreneurs established the Frontier Touring Company back in 1979, with Gudinski as the industry's self-styled emperor of Melbourne and Chugg the king of Sydney, and exactly 20 years after the allies went their separate ways and became competitors.

The two Michaels are icons of Australia’s independent music scene, with empires spanning live, management and recordings, and in the case of Gudinki’s Mushroom Group, a whole lot more. 

Through this new joint venture, Frontier Touring and Chugg Entertainment will co-promote on all Chugg Entertainment tours, with effect from April 1. 

In addition, Frontier will join Chugg Entertainment and Potts Entertainment as a partner in CMC Rocks QLD, the popular annual country music festival.  According to Chugg Entertainment, the 2019 event, held mid-March in Ipswich, with Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line headlining, put up the “sold-out” sign for the fourth successive year and boasting a daily attendance of 24,000.

Uniting Gudinski and Chugg, two of the more animated characters in this or any music market, does much more than create a supreme contacts book. Both execs will be confident their pooled resources will meet the challenge of the powerful Live Nation affiliate, run by its CEO Roger Field and chaired by Michael Coppel, and the TEG Dainty group, helmed by veteran promoter Paul Dainty. Neither is a lightweight. Frontier came in at No. 3 and Chugg Entertainment finished at No. 16 in the Billboard End Of Year Top Promoters Chart for 2018.

There was a hint of things to come when Chugg Entertainment last month announced the full scope of Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour of Australia and New Zealand next January and February. On that massive trek, Frontier will promote Elton’s Hanging Rock concert and the Hall of Famer will play a string of A Day On the Green winery shows, organized by Roundhouse Entertainment, a joint venture with Mushroom Group.

Bringing Chugg Entertainment under the Melbourne-based Mushroom Group umbrella ensures both live businesses “benefit from specialized areas, in particular Chugg Entertainment’s strong presence and expertise in the country music genre,” reads a statement announcing the partnership. On the flip side, Chugg Entertainment can tap into a “world class level of resources and opportunities that will allow a greater platform for business growth and development,” the message continues.

Photo by Justin Ma.
Michael Chugg, Susan Heymann and Michael Gudinski

Moving ahead, Susan Heymann will continue as managing director of Chugg Entertainment, reporting to Gudinski and Chugg on all Frontier/Chugg Entertainment joint ventures, and employees from the live division of Chugg Entertainment will integrate with the Frontier team to work on co-promoted shows.

With Chugg now in the fold, Frontier more than adequately covers the departure of Michael Harrison, Gudinski’s longtime lieutenant who recently joined AEG in the role of senior vice president global touring. Following Harrison’s departure, Frontier promoted Sahara Herald to tour director, with Gudinski saying at the time, “I’m pleased to say we will have some further exciting announcements about additions to the Frontier team soon.”