With a flagship management client in Dashboard Confessional and a five-strong U.S. team, Australian independent UNIFIED Music Group has successfully navigated the route from Melbourne into the world’s biggest market.
Helmed by CEO Jaddan Comerford, UNIFIED launched in 2011 with eight staff. The company now employs more than 60 employees worldwide, with offices in Australia’s two biggest cities Melbourne and Sydney, London and now Los Angeles, and represents a diverse stable of artists including Vance Joy, Illy, Tash Sultana (co-managed with Lemon Tree Music), Ocean Alley, The Amity Affliction, Violent Soho and Chris Carrabba’s Dashboard Confessional.
Comerford and Rachael Tulloch, owner-operators of UNIFIED, moved to New York in 2014 with a goal in mind: to create new pathways for Vance Joy, whose single “Riptide” was blowing up everywhere, thanks in part to Taylor Swift’s blessing.
Based in the Los Angeles suburb of Silverlake, the U.S. team employs three staff in artist management with Nick Holman and Briana Aynsley now working alongside Olly Mitchell, head of L.A. office. Mitchell was the U.S. company’s first hire, in 2016.]
On the label side Francesca Caldara manages and expands label services in the role as North American label manager, and Kevin Modry joined on the marketing side.
The purpose of the expansion into the U.S. was to “create opportunities for our Australian label and management clients in the biggest music market in the world,” says Comerford from the group’s headquarters in Melbourne.
“Our biggest challenge at that point was convincing American artists to want to be managed by an Australian company whose L.A. office was being run by an Englishman,” recounts Comerford. “But we knuckled down and continued to follow our vision of breaking our Australian clients in America and this is what helped us attract great talent both in staff and artists. As an independent company that is 100% funded internally, that is of course a challenge.” On second thought, “that’s boring,” he quips, “everyone has that same challenge.”
Along the way, UNIFIED struck a global partnership with The Orchard. With effect from March 2018, it turned out to be a pivotal deal by providing worldwide distribution for UNIFIED’s labels division, which includes UNFD (heavy music) and Domestic La La (alternative rock), with other artists outside of those genre groups now serviced through UNIFIED Label Services. The arrangement, notes Caldara, “significantly broadened our ability to service those artists globally and holistically,”
Today, UNIFIED’s stable of U.S. management clients also include Turnover, State Champs, and Microwave while its UNFD label has signed the likes of Frank Iero, Silverstein, Stray From The Path and Like Moths To Flames.
Dashboard Confessional will celebrate their 20th anniversary with a full-scale north America tour, kicking off Feb. 4 at the House of Blues in Dallas, TX and wrapping March 28 at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.
The U.S. company is “growing every day,” notes Comerford. And Signing Dashboard Confessional on the management side, he enthuses, “was a huge moment for us.”