As it celebrates its 40th year in business, Australia’s Mushroom Group is shaking things up. The indie music powerhouse has realigned, it’s adding a big name to its artist roster and key exec Matt Gudinski will step up to a new, wider role. One aspect of the company that won’t change anytime soon is the status of its chairman Michael Gudinski. The boss has no plan to retire.
The developments, teased online in recent months with the message, “A new Mushroom is sprouting,” were announced Tuesday with a party at Melbourne’s 1000 Pound Bend venue.
Mushroom is a “family,” Gudinski told guests. The last 40 years have been “more than a dream. It’s been more than magic. And I never thought I’d live to 50.” He went on to say, “Australia is one of the great countries. Australian artists need your support. Please don’t ever stop…in fact, it would be nice to really start (supporting them).”
The hundreds of execs, media representatives and artists in the room came from around the country, and in the case of Korda Marshall, as far as Britain. Marshall, a longtime member of the Mushroom “family” and head of his own London-based label, Infectious Music, gave a speech to present his signing Alt-J. The Mercury Prize-winning act was the only non-Australian on the line-up, a bill that included British India, Owl Eyes, Snakadaktal, World’s End Press and the Rubens, who’ve recently signed a worldwide (ex-Australia and New Zealand) deal with Warner Bros.
Gudinski was clear on his ambitions, and where his passion lies. “The Australian artists in the group at the moment are the best I’ve seen in my life,” Gudinski said from the stage. “I’ve had so much luck, and so many awards. I love the awards, but I’d trade them all in to live to 100 and have a No. 1 album in America. And if I don’t get it, I know my son who is so passionate about music, is going to take the mantle. “
Founded in 1973, Mushroom is home to more than twenty companies, covering touring, booking agencies, record labels, merchandising, music publishing, creative and marketing services, venues, exhibition and events production, and film and TV production. Gudinski quips that the company is the definitive “365-degree model” – they’re on the job all year ‘round. Going forward, a universal mushroom icon has been created and will be carried across every Mushroom brand.
Earlier in the night, whispers spread that the 60-year-old Gudinski was announcing his abdication of sorts. It was well wide of the mark.
“If any other prick is going to ask me tonight if I’m going to retire, you can fuck off,” he told the cheering crowd.
Meanwhile, the younger Gudinski, Matt, has been elevated to group executive director, a central role that reflects his prominent standing in the company. His label Illusive, part of the Mushroom Group, hit paydirt in recent years with its hip hop act Bliss N Eso, whose most recent albums “Running On Air” topped the ARIA albums chart in 2010 and is certified platinum (300,000 units).
Also on the night, Gudinski announced the signing of ARIA best male artist award winner Dan Sultan to the group’s Liberation label. Sultan won the ARIA in 2010, a year after he played a key role in the feel-good feature film “Bran Nue Dae.”