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Mushroom Group teams on First & Forever festival

Details have been announced of new Australian festival First & Forever, which will celebrate Blak excellence and contemporary First Nations culture and music.

Launched by Mushroom Group, the Victorian government and record label Bad Apples Music, the landmark event will take place at The Gathering Place, Hanging Rock (cap. 18,000) on Sunday 27 November.

Hand-picked by Bad Apples Music founder Briggs, artists will include Baker Boy, Budjerah, Jessica Mauboy, King Stingray, Sycco, Thelma Plum, Alice Skye, Busby Marou and Christine Anu.

“MG got the ball rolling. After he passed, the ball was in my court. I had to take it home”

Briggs reveals the festival came about through a chance meeting with late Mushroom founder Michael Gudinski.

“For years I’d had an idea for a First Nations-led contemporary music festival, something cool and boutique that was really about the music and culture,” he tells Concrete Playground. “When Gudinski called me about a similar idea he’d had, we found this really collaborative working relationship.

“We both had a passionate approach to Melbourne, Victorian music, and amplifying Blakfellas’ stories. MG got the ball rolling. After he passed, the ball was in my court. I had to take it home.”

Briggs co-curated the event with Paul Kelly after Gudinski had previously approached him about the idea backstage at a concert just over a week before he died.

“I said no to Michael many times over the years, and I said yes lots. I’m glad I said yes this last time”

“He was bubbling with ideas for a new project, a big concert with headlining First Nations artists,” says Kelly. “He urged me to get involved. I said no to Michael many times over the years, and I said yes lots. I’m glad I said yes this last time.”

General sale tickets go on sale on 14 October, priced AUD$79 (€52). Proceeds will be split between The Archie Roach Foundation and the Adam Briggs Foundation.

“Once Dad had an idea in his head, there was little chance of him letting it go,” adds Mushroom Group CEO Matt Gudinski. “To see another passion project of his come to fruition makes me very happy. Mushroom has always been a big supporter of First Nations artists for decades, and First & Forever is a celebration of the remarkable talent of this country’s First Nations artists.”

 


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AEG’s Adam Wilkes talks Frontier’s new era

Frontier Touring chairman Adam Wilkes has given an insight the company’s new leadership structure and paid tribute to late founder Michael Gudinski in a new interview.

Wilkes, who has been president and CEO of AEG Presents Asia Pacific since 2016, became chair of the Frontier board earlier this year as part of a restructure following Gudinski’s passing in March 2021. A subsidiary of Mushroom Group, Frontier entered into a strategic JV with AEG in 2019.

The company’s executive team comprises Dion Brant as CEO, COO Susan Heymann, CMCO Reegan Stark, and CCO Andrew Spencer.

“I think that works. It allows all people to shine at what they do best.” said Wilkes in an on-stage Q&A at the Music Matters industry conference at Singapore’s Hilton Hotel, reports The Music Network.

“We’ve traditionally been the market leader in Australia, so all signs would suggest that will continue”

“Nobody can fill Michael’s shoes, it’s not a possible thing, he was a one of a kind,” he added. “But one of Michael’s legacies is the incredible company he built, and he had a really deep bench.

“We’ve traditionally been the market leader in Australia, so all signs would suggest that will continue.”

Wilkes described Gudinski, one of the best-known and most-loved figures in the concert business down under for five decades, as a “titan”.

“He was integral to developing the live music industry in Australia since the 1970s, someone that I looked at as a mentor and a friend,” said Wilkes, who went on to discuss the health of the wider Australian live sector.

“The Australian market never ceases to impress,” he said. “It’s only 25 million people but it really punches above its weight when it comes to live performance. I think the per-cap spending in Australia is the highest in the world. It’s just so engrained in the culture.”

 


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Michael Gudinski statue unveiled in Melbourne

A statue of the late Mushroom Group founder Michael Gudinski has been unveiled outside Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena, part of the Melbourne & Olympic Park precinct.

The life-size statue is in honour of the promoting legend’s contribution to Australia’s music, arts and entertainment industries, Melbourne & Olympic Park venues, and the state of Victoria.

The unveiling, which included speeches from Gudinski’s son, Mushroom Group CEO Matt Gudinski, Australian singer-songwriter Jimmy Barnes and Dan Andrews MP, premier of Victoria, formed part of the music company’s MG Day – a day-long celebration of Gudinski’s life and legacy.

“My family and I are humbled by this great tribute and recognition of my late father that acknowledges his contribution to the Australian music scene and the city of Melbourne and will stand as a permanent tribute to his legacy and importance to making the Australian music and entertainment landscape what it is today,” says Matt Gudinski.

The sculpture was created by Darien Pullen from local company Meridian Sculptures.

“To have a statue of Michael up here surrounded by the very venues that made Melbourne the home of everything to him seems perfect”

One of the best-known and most-loved figures in the concert business down under for five decades, Michael Gudinski died in his sleep at home in Melbourne last March aged 68.

The long-time ILMC member founded record label and music publisher Mushroom Group at the age of 20 in 1972. Mushroom went on to become Australia’s largest homegrown entertainment company, adding booking agency, merchandise, film/TV production and concert promotion services.

Frontier Touring, founded in 1979, remains Australia’s largest tour promoter, having worked with artists including Ed Sheeran, Kylie Minogue, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Paul McCartney and Foo Fighters. It merged with AEG Presents in 2019.

“To have a statue of Michael up here surrounded by the very venues that made Melbourne the home of everything to him seems perfect. From here he can hear the roar of the crowds from the MCG,” adds Barnes. “He can see and hear the punters leaving the Rod Laver Arena, or AAMI Park shouting about being at the best show they’ve ever seen. I think that would put a smile on his face. Especially if it was a Frontier show.”

Always Live, an initiative envisioned by the late Michael Gudinski to revitalise Victoria’s live music scene following the Covid shutdown, launched earlier this month.

 


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Mushroom, AEG unveil Frontier’s new leadership team

Australia and New Zealand’s leading concert promoter, Frontier Touring, has unveiled a new leadership structure for the company.

Frontier says that the new structure has been created to “ensure the legacy, mission, and culture of [the company] is preserved and nurtured” following the passing of its founder Michael Gudinski in March 2021.

The company’s new executive team will comprise four members of the current leadership team, all of whom are elevated to new roles within the company: Dion Brant as CEO, COO Susan Heymann, CMCO Reegan Stark, and CCO Andrew Spencer.

The executive team will report to the Frontier Touring Board, comprised of Jay Marciano (chairman and CEO, AEG Presents and COO, office of the chairman, AEG), Matt Gudinski (chairman and CEO, Mushroom Group) and Dion Brant (CEO, Frontier Touring).

In addition, Adam Wilkes moves to the role of chairman of the Frontier Board in conjunction with his position as president and CEO, AEG Presents Asia Pacific, which he has held since 2016.

“I know Dad’s legacy and the future of Frontier is in safe hands”

In 2019, Frontier (a subsidiary of Mushroom Group) entered into a strategic joint venture with AEG Presents.

Matt Gudinski says: “I couldn’t be happier announcing our new Frontier executive team. Mushroom Group is built on our great people, which is something we’ve always valued first and foremost.

“I’m thrilled that moving forward Frontier will be led by four incredibly dedicated, experienced, and strong leaders in Dion, Reegan, Susan, and Spence, working closely with myself, Adam, and the AEG Presents team.

“Frontier was founded on strong relationships, an artist-first approach and a never-ending passion for music and I know Dad’s legacy and the future of Frontier is in safe hands. There are exciting times ahead for the company.”

Marciano adds: “Michael Gudinski was a man of endless passion, energy, and creativity, with an innate sense for the business, and it was clear no one person could replace him. All of us who worked together on this new structure were bound by the same sense of duty: we’re committed to properly and thoroughly stewarding Michael’s vision for the future of Frontier.”

In the next 12 months, Frontier has shows planned with Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Billie Eilish, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, Justin Bieber, Midnight Oil, Paul Kelly, Tame Impala, Wallows, Courtney Barnett, Leon Bridges, Tyler, The Creator, The Killers, Robbie Williams, Lorde and more.

 


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Ed Sheeran announces Australia & NZ stadium tour

Ed Sheeran is returning to Australia and New Zealand for the first time in five years after announcing the latest leg of his + – = ÷ x (Mathematics) stadium tour.

Sheeran, who dedicated his track Visiting Hours to late Frontier Touring founder Michael Gudinski, will visit in early 2023, stopping off first in New Zealand for dates at Sky Stadium in Wellington (2 February) and Eden Park, Auckland (10 February).

The trek will then switch to Australia for nights at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane (17 February), Accor Stadium, Sydney (24 February), MCG Melbourne (2 March), the Oval in Adelaide (7 March) and Optus Stadium in Perth (12 March).

The announcement comes on the heels of Foo Fighters becoming the first major international music act to travel to Australia since the pandemic began. The US rock band performed a one-off concert at the GMHBA Stadium in Geelong, Victoria on 4 March to launch Always Live, an initiative envisioned by Gudinski to revitalise Victoria’s live music scene.

Sheeran sold more than one million tickets for his last tour of the region

Further gigs under the Always Live banner have since been announced including Nick Cave & Warren Ellis at Hanging Rock (25-26 November), Isaiah Firebrace at Girgarre Sound Shell, Echuca (4 December) and Tash Sultana at Ocean Sounds festival in Churchill Island (10 December).

Sheeran sold more than one million tickets for his last tour of the region in 2018, which formed part of his record-breaking ÷ (Divide) run from 2017-19. The global tour surpassed U2’s 360° as the highest-grossing ever, with a gross of US$776.2 million. It also set a new record for total attendance, at 8,796,567, according to Pollstar data.

The singer, who is represented by One Fiinix Live agent Jon Ollier outside North America, returns to the stage later this month, for a run of UK warm-up shows, playing intimate venues such as London’s 1,100-cap Electric Ballroom and the 600-cap Concorde 2 in Brighton. The Mathematics stadium tour will then kick off in Ireland at Dublin’s Croke Park on 23 April.

 


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Gudinski’s ‘Always Live’ initiative set to launch

Always Live, an initiative envisioned by the late Michael Gudinski to revitalise Victoria’s live music scene, will launch with a concert from the Foo Fighters.

The US rock band will perform a one-off concert at the GMHBA Stadium in Geelong, Victoria, next Friday (4 March) with an audience of up to 25,000 fans.

The concert will see Foo Fighters become the first major international music act to travel to Australia since the pandemic began.

The show marks the launch of Always Live, a series of events intended to bring music fans into Melbourne and regional Victoria and help to support local jobs and tourism businesses.

Always Live chair and Michael Gudinski’s son, Matt Gudinski, says: “Always Live was a passion project for my dad to ensure Victoria continued to be recognised as the music capital of Australia, and Melbourne as one of the leading music cities in the world.”

“The focus of this year’s Always Live is reinvigorating and reconnecting the state through the power of live music”

“Dad worked tirelessly over many years to bring his vision and concept to life and to obtain the support of the Victorian government. The initiative has been in the works for a long time and has been impacted by Covid-19 leading to several postponements of its launch and delivery.

“I’m honoured to be part of now making it a reality at a time when the live music scene needs all the support it can get. The focus of this year’s instalment of Always Live is reinvigorating and reconnecting the state through the power of live music.”

Gudinski, one of the best-known and most-loved figures in the concert business down under, passed away unexpectedly last year.

An executive and promoter, Gudinski shaped the international careers of local music talent including Kylie Minogue and helped bring acts including The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Ed Sheeran to Australia.

 


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Gudinski’s ‘Music From The Home Front’ returns

Frontier Touring has announced the second edition of Music from the Home Front, a special Anzac Day concert spearheaded by the late Australian industry icon, Michael Gudinski.

The second instalment will take place at Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne on Saturday 24 April, the eve of the national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand.

The Kid Laroi, Jimmy Barnes, Dean Lewis, Amy Shark, Tina Arena, Vance Joy, Lime Cordiale, Tash Sultana and You Am I are slated to perform.

Music from the Home Front was conceived by Gudinski, the late Barnes and Frontier Touring/Mushroom Group founder, to pay tribute to both the service people who were involved in the Gallipoli campaign (1915–16) of the First World War, as well as those who were “fighting on the Covid-19 front line”.

The inaugural Music from the Home Front was watched by over 1.4 million viewers on Anzac Day 2020.

“Music From The Home Front is a project [Michael Gudinski] was immensely proud of in 2020”

Matt Gudinski, the son of Michael and the newly elected CEO of Mushroom Group, told Billboard: “It’s incredibly fitting that Music From The Home Front, a project he was immensely proud of in 2020, was one of the events he was working on right up until his last day.

“That we can bring to life a broadcast concert version from his hometown of Melbourne, supporting the industry he loved, in a city he long promoted as the leading music capital of Australia, resonates deeply with all of us at Mushroom.”

Michael Gudinski passed away suddenly on 2 March 2021 at the age of 68.

Similar to last year, the concert will be broadcast live on television on Nine/9Now and on YouTube at 7:30 pm AEST. This year’s event is presented in partnership with the Victorian government.

Tickets for the Melbourne concert go on sale this Friday (16 April). For more information visit musicfromthehomefront.com.au and frontiertouring.com/homefront.

 


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Matt Gudinski named new Mushroom Group CEO

Australia’s Mushroom Group has appointed Matt Gudinski as its new CEO, effective immediately.

Gudinski, who most recently held the role of executive director, moves into the position following the sudden passing of his father, Frontier Touring/Mushroom Group founder Michael Gudinski, on 2 March.

Gudinski joined Mushroom Group in 2003, aged 17, and named as Michael’s successor ten years later, with the two working side by side at the helm of Mushroom – which, in addition to touring, includes record labels and artist services, publishing, merchandising, booking agencies, film and television production, talent management, venues, creative services and a brand agency – since then.

“This isn’t a role that I expected to assume yet, but I am determined to honour the great legacy my father left”

Frontier Touring, founded in 1979, seven years after Mushroom Group, remains Australia’s largest tour promoter, having worked with artists including Ed Sheeran, Kylie Minogue, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Paul McCartney and Foo Fighters. It merged with AEG Presents in 2019.

“This isn’t a role that I expected to assume yet, but I am determined to honour the great legacy my father left,” says Gudinski.

“Mushroom Group is in its strongest position ever, and as we fast approach our 50th year I know that our incredibly talented Mushroom family will help me deliver the vision Dad and I had for the next 50 years of our business.”

 


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Michael Gudinski to receive state funeral

Victoria, the home state of Michael Gudinski, will hold a state funeral for the late promoter, its premier has announced.

Gudinski, the Frontier Touring founder known as the ‘father of the Australian music industry’, passed away suddenly on Monday (1 March). Bruce Springsteen, Kyle Minogue, Live Nation, TEG and his longtime friend and business partner, Michael Chugg, were among those to pay tribute.

Daniel Andrews, premier of Victoria, told press yesterday Gudinski’s widow, Sue, had agreed to a state funeral for her late husband.

“I think we will be able to come together in an iconic venue and celebrate his life”

“I went and saw Sue last night and offered her and the family a state funeral for an amazing Victorian,” he told local media. Gudinski was born and raised in Caulfield, a suburb of state capital Melbourne.

The funeral, said Andrews, “will be a celebration of his life”, with the details finalised in the coming days.

“It’s got to be Covid-safe, of course,” he added, “but I think we will be able to come together in an iconic venue and celebrate his life and the mark that he made and the legacy he leaves.”

 


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“An extraordinary legacy”: Michael Gudinski passes aged 68

Frontier Touring founder Michael Gudinski, for five decades one of the best-known and most-loved figures in the concert business down under, has passed away. He was 68.

The sudden passing of Gudinski – who died in his sleep at his home in Melbourne last night (1 March) – sent a shockwave through the industry in Australia and beyond, with colleagues, artists, business rivals and parliamentarians sending their condolences and appreciation for a man Jimmy Barnes describes as “the heart of Australian music”.

Born Vale Michael Solomon Gudinski to Russian-Jewish parents in 1952, Gudinski founded record label and music publisher Mushroom Group at the age of 20 in 1972. Mushroom went on to become Australia’s largest homegrown entertainment company, adding booking agency, merchandise, film/TV production and concert promotion services.

Frontier Touring, founded in 1979, remains Australia’s largest tour promoter, having worked with artists including Ed Sheeran, Kylie Minogue, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Paul McCartney and Foo Fighters. It merged with AEG Presents in 2019.

In addition to touring some of the world’s leading artists and releasing, via the Mushroom Group labels, some of Australia’s favourite albums, Gudinski – a long-time ILMC member and frequent contributor to IQ – recently won praise for his assistance to the industry during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Mushroom Group says, “with the music industry severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael conceptualised and developed Music from the Home Front, The Sound and the State of Music, platforms designed to showcase and support contemporary Australian music in an incredibly difficult time. It speaks to the man he was that of his countless illustrious career achievements these projects, that supported the industry he loved, were ones he was particularly proud of.

“I’ve toured the world for the last 50 years and never met a better promoter”

Frontier is also part of the pan-industry Live Entertainment Industry Forum, which has worked with government to get Australia back to live music safely.

Frontier Touring co-founder Michael Chugg, whose on-and-off business relationship with Gudinski culminated in his rejoining Mushroom Group in 2019, describes the passing of his friend as “shattering”.

“I spoke to him at 9 o’clock last night – we were giving each other a hard time over making sure the [Chugg music artist] Sheppard album got to number one this week,” he tells Sydney radio station 2GB. “It’s just so shocking; I got the call early this morning. […] I first met him when he was a 16-year-old sitting at a desk at an agency in Melbourne, and we were friends, buddies and opponents ever since.

“It’s just one of the worst days of my life.”

Barnes, who performed at Music from the Home Front, is among the artists to pay tribute to Gudinski’s achievements. “He was there for everyone that needed him,” he says. “The music business turned, grew and moved forward in Australia because of Michael. He was a force of nature, a giant of a man. His boundless enthusiasm breathed life into our music scene.”

“My friend Michael Gudinski was first, last and always a music man,” wrote another, Bruce Springsteen, on social media. “I’ve toured the world for the last 50 years and never met a better promoter.

“The music business turned, grew and moved forward in Australia because of Michael”

“Michael always spoke with a deep rumbling voice, and the words would spill out so fast that half the time I needed an interpreter. But I could hear him clear as a bell when he would say, ‘Bruce, I’ve got you covered’. And he always did. He was loud, always in motion, intentionally (and unintentionally) hilarious and deeply soulful.

“He will be remembered by artists, including this one, from all over the world every time they step foot on Australian soil. My deepest condolences to his wife and partner Sue, and to the whole Gudinski family, of which he was so proud.”

Gudinski, added Minogue, was “one of a kind and forever family to me. My heart is broken and I can’t believe he’s gone. Irreplaceable and unforgettable, I’ll always love you, ‘the Big G’.”

Rival promoters also sent their condolences: TEG extended its “deepest sympathies to the Gudinski family at this very difficult time, as well as to everyone at Mushroom and Frontier Touring”. “Michael was a larger-than-life character whose legacy in Australian music is undeniable,” the Sydney-based company adds.

Live Nation Australia said Gudinski leaves an “extraordinary legacy” in live music:

“When he started in show business in his teens, Australian music was a cottage industry. He was instrumental in turning it into a powerhouse”

“I’m not sure we ever agreed on anything, except maybe Ed Sheeran,” tweeted actor and musician Russell Crowe. “It still didn’t stop us from being mates for 30 years. I’m going to miss him deeply.”

Gudinski is survived by his wife Sue, his son Matt and Matt’s partner Cara, and his daughter Kate, her husband Andrew and their children, Nina-Rose and Lulu, as well as the extended “Mushroom family”.

“You simply cannot tell the story of Australian music without Michael Gudinski squarely in the centre of it,” says Tony Burke MP, Australia’s shadow minister for the arts. “For nearly 50 years, he was a passionate and relentless advocate for the local music industry and the artists that make it great.

“When he started in show business in his teens, Australian music was a cottage industry. He was instrumental in turning it into a powerhouse, earning him the title ‘the father of the Australian music industry’.

“From Mushroom Records to Frontier Touring, he was a brilliant, pioneering businessman – but he never lost his passion for the music itself.”

 


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