Is it better to be independent or with a record label? Do I need a manager or can I manage myself? Should I hire a PR person or will I be able to do all the publicity myself?
Those are the questions musos start asking at a certain point in their careers. And there’s no right or wrong answer. It all depends on individual needs. But there are several reputable companies Down Under working with and for artists whose help and services you could consider.
PART 76 OF “AM I EVER GONNA SEE YOUR FACE AGAIN?” A RANDOM COLLECTION OF UNKNOWINGLY OBVIOUS FACTS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN MUSIC SCENE
Choosing the right management, record label and publishing services is hard yakka. Mainly because it’s like a long-term relationship that you enter with great expectations. And sometimes it might turn out heaps disappointing for both sides because, well, reality bites. So it’s good to thoroughly consider your options before saying “yes” to the relationship.
Luckily, Australian artists cannot complain when it comes to the variety of music management companies based in the country. They come in all shapes and colours: from smaller, local ones (like Fidelity Corporation) to true international giants (like Mushroom Group).
I’ve taken the liberty of choosing six that got my attention at some stage of my fascination with the Aussie music scene. And before you find out who they are, I just want to stress a few things.
- This list is not a ranking or competition. So they’re presented in alphabetical order, to be fair to everyone.
- I’ve never used their services as an artist because I am not one. But I admire what they do and how they do it for their artists.
- I’ve looked at their roster and tried to present a varied selection when it comes to genres and territories within Australia.
- I’ve also taken into account what services they offer to the artists and how big they are – again, to show different approaches and options.
So here goes:
1. AUM PR
HQs: Melbourne, VIC + Darwin, NT + Mullumbimby, NSW
Artists: Benny Walker, J-MILLA, Mau Power and more
Range of services: artist management, PR
Other affiliated artists: Briggs, Dallas Woods, Dan Sultan, Gurrumul, KIAN
Why it makes the list: For having discovered Baker Boy for the world – that should be enough. The Indigenous rapper was under AUM’s wings from 2017 to 2019 and the company did a stellar job to get the artist to where he is today. Their direction – focus on First Nations artists – should also be noted here. But I guess it’s also because this is the only company on the list I had direct dealings with (regarding engaging Baker Boy to support a social movement). I’m also not ashamed to admit that I have a professional crush on Chryss Carr who is the driving force behind the brand. She is one of my female role models in the Aussie music biz (and now I’ve admitted it publicly as well).
Watch how J-MILLA tells the story of His People in the below vid:
2. Chugg Music
HQs: Sydney, NSW
Artists: Casey Barnes, Lime Cordial, Sheppard and more
Range of services: artist management, record label, publishing, merch, touring agency, tour promoter
Other affiliated projects: City Pop Records (label), Chugg Entertainment (tours)
Why it makes the list: Don’t let their DoB fool you. Michael Chugg, the company’s “Father”, has been in the music biz longer than I’ve been alive. He’s also worked with more local and international artists than I can count. His last name is a brand in itself, so there was no question Chugg Music would make the list.
And here’s a sample of what Chuggi can do for you:
3. future classic.
HQs: Sydney, NSW + LA (US)
Artists: Flume, G Flip, Hayden James and more
Range of services: talent management, artist services, events, record label, touring agency, publishing
Other projects under the Future Classic umbrella: residency in own studio in LA
Some affiliated companies: Dropbox
Why it makes the list: fc. already gets a shout-out for their name and branding, both of which summarise the company’s vision spot on. Apart from that, I’m currently hooked on electronic music and DJs, and they have a roster of the best Aussie reps in those genres. Besides, what other company that includes a link to its Twitch profile on their website along FB, IG, YT or Spotify do you know in the Aussie music biz?
Check out future classic.’s playlists on SoundCloud:
4. I OH YOU
HQs: Australia (soz, can’t find exact city)
Artists: DMA’S, DZ Deathrays, Hayley Mary and more
Range of services: record label, tour promoter
Other I Oh You affiliations: Converge Management (artist management), Mushroom Group (a subsidiary of)
Why it makes the list: If you followed the founder’s keynote speech at last year’s virtual BIGSOUND conference, then you’ll know I Oh You is an interesting case. Called ‘200 Shits Per Album’, it was a story of Johann Ponniah’s ups and downs – a great lesson for anyone thinking of getting mixed up in the music biz. Plus, the company started as a result of a very successful gig put together to raise money for piling debts. So there’s no doubt they’re my kind of people.
Here’s their rather fun IG page:
5. Lemon Tree Music
HQs: Melbourne, VIC + Sydney, NSW + Kingscliff, NSW
Artists: Pierce Brothers, Tash Sultana, Tones And I and more
Range of services: artist management, consultancy, record label
Why it makes the list: Eight words: Tones And I is finally releasing an album. Beat that as an artist management company! I seriously mean it. And it’s actually not only about Tones And I. If you look at LTM’s roster, you’ll see that many of the artists were buskers before “making it” in the biz. For me, that’s a sign they have a very good eye for spotting talent.
Watch Regan Lethbridge from Lemon Tree Music talk about it with The Industry Observer:
6. UNIFIED Music Group
HQs: Melbourne, VIC; with offices in Sydney, NSW + London (UK) + LA (US) as well
Artists: Illy, The Amity Affliction, Vance Joy and more
Range of services: artist management, record labels, music publishing, events, merch
Other brands under the UNIFIED umbrella: UNFD (flagship record label), The UNIFY Gathering (heavy music festival), Red Hill Entertainment (live events), Land of Plenty (festival), Super Special (merch)
Other affiliated companies: Mushroom Publishing, The Orchard, The Hills Are Alive Group, Muso
Why it makes the list: For three simple reasons. Firstly, because they primarily focus on heavy music and there are not too many other services Down Under that do the same. I know you can’t tell by the artists on their roster, but trust me – heavy music is their first love. Secondly, because they diversify their investments by supporting companies/projects that are not strictly music-related, i.e. the ‘Heaps Normal’ non-alcoholic beer brand. Last but not least, they recently organised an awesome online forum called ‘Main Stage’ with a ton of industry stakeholders (soz for the fancy word; can’t find a better one to call that group of wise people who all had fascinating things to say about the state of things in the industry). I spent the whole day watching the replays. So can you, because it’s now on their YouTube.
And here’s one of the talks:
You’ll notice I haven’t included Mushroom Group on my list. That’s because the late Michael Gudinski’s legacy is a story for a separate post altogether. Hopefully, though, this short overview will give you a glimpse into the music management world Down Under.
Cover image: Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash
Check out my other posts about Aussie music industry’s institutions and services:
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