The Power 50: #1 - Michael Gudinski AM

14 May 2020 | 2:00 pm | Jessica Dale

The 50 most influential people in the Australian music industry.

Pic by Nick Lawrence

Pic by Nick Lawrence

More The Power 50 2019 More The Power 50 2019

Gudinski was an entrepreneur from an early age - charging Caulfield Cup punters for parking at the vacant block next to his home at seven, and promoting dances and shows while still in his teen years. 1972 saw Gudinski launch Mushroom Records and Mushroom Publishing. The same year saw Gudinski, alongside Ray Evans, stage, manage and book the iconic Sunbury Festival. Frontier Touring would come along in 1979. Mushroom Group now features more than two dozen companies, working across touring, merch, labels, royalties, booking, film, festivals, creative, comedy, management and more. This is the fifth time Gudinski has topped The Power 50 since 2012.

To say that Michael Gudinski and his Mushroom Group had a big year in 2019 would be an enormous understatement. In March, it was announced that Gudinski and fellow promoter Michael Chugg would reunite in business after a 20-year break, with all Chugg Entertainment events to be co-promoted by Frontier Touring (including the hugely popular CMC Rocks Qld Festival). “Michael and I have been in and out of business together for almost half a century and we’ve both seen a lot change in that time," Gudinski said at the time. "There’s no doubt that live touring in Australasia is undergoing its biggest transition ever and we’re both equally passionate about ensuring we continue to set the bar for touring Down Under.”

Just weeks later, Gudinski would raise that bar even higher, announcing a strategic partnership with AEG Presents, the group behind events like Coachella, BST Hyde Park Festival, Stagecoach Country Music Festival, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and more. Later in April, Mushroom Group’s partnership with neighbouring rights specialist Susan Cotchin was announced, launching new royalties company Good Neighbour. As part of the deal, Mushroom Group acquired Cotchin’s company International Royalties Rescue and its clients, including Gang Of Youths, Empire Of The Sun, Jet, The Avalanches, Middle Kids, The Temper Trap, Paul Kelly, John Farnham and more. 

May saw a major restructure of the Mushroom Music Publishing team, under the supervision of managing director Linda Bosidis. The publishing arm would set up their own writing studios in Sydney soon after. Another staff shuffle took place in November, with Reegan Stark promoted to chief marketing and communications officer while Dan Baker was promoted to general manager, media and strategy for Mushroom Labels amid the merging of the Chugg and Frontier marketing and promotions teams.

Touring and events, of course, remain key in the Mushroom Group wheelhouse, with tours from artists like Arctic Monkeys, Kylie Minogue, Shawn Mendes, Lily Allen, Khalid, Norah Jones, Bryan Adams, Eagles and more taking place throughout the year. Paul Kelly’s Making Gravy concert series also enjoyed its third year, while RNB Fridays had its fourth outing and held its place as Australia’s largest touring event. Always the innovators, Mushroom Group also introduced Australia to the country’s first immersive cinema experience, partnering with Underground Cinema for a large scale, interactive screening of Dirty Dancing. Mushroom Events once again worked with major sporting events like the Spring Racing Carnival, the Australian Open and the AFL Grand Final.

Mushroom Group labels - Liberation Records, Liberator, Illusive Sounds, I OH YOU, Ivy League, Bloodlines and Soothsayer - saw album releases from Julia Jacklin, Archie Roach (Roach would also be nominated Victorian Of The Year), City Calm Down, DZ Deathrays, Hatchie and more. Ivy League Records’ The Teskey Brothers (who Gudinski was personally involved in the signing of in 2018) picked up three ARIA Awards for their album Run Home Slow - including Best Group, Best Blues & Roots Album and Engineer Of The Year. They also scored a Grammy Award nomination for Best Engineered Album, Non-classical.

The year also saw Gudinski feature on Billboard’s prestigious International Power Players list in the ‘Live’ category, while Frontier Touring was named #4 Promoter Worldwide in the Billboard First Quarter results.

"One of the biggest crowning achievements in 2019 for us was getting back into business with Michael Chugg and investing in CMC Rocks which brought us a great team of people led by Susan Heymann and a much stronger position in the modern country genre. Another big achievement was partnering with AEG Presents giving us access to expertise and investment as we look to continue to grow and diversify into the future."