Australian Music Industry News: BMG signings, super tours announced & more!

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Australian Music Industry News: BMG signings, super tours announced & more!

Hugo Weaving
Words by Christie Eliezer

Catch up on all the latest music industry news.

Catch up on all the latest music industry news, including record deal signings, charity work, hall of fame inductees and more!

Australian Music Industry News

Nine New Signings: Daniel Johns, Middle Kids, Elly-May Barnes & More

Daniel Johns has signed a massive publishing deal with BMG, starting with those on his solo album FutureNever, and will see his Silverchair gems becoming part of the deal in 2025.

BMG already handles his recordings (his brother Heath runs BMG Australia) and produced the 2021 Spotify podcast Who Is Daniel Johns? which was #1 for five weeks and took a trophy at the 2022 Australian Podcast Awards.

FutureNeverFund work

In other news, the FutureNeverFund, created by Johns to help create better futures for people and animals in need (with a focus on mental health, racial inequality, diversity in the arts and animal welfare), has reached a milestone. 

It has disbursed over $100,000, including support for Animals Asia, Equi Energy Youth, Awabakal, Dog Rescue Newcastle, Bat Rescue Inc, Support Act and Horse Rescue Australia, as well as a partnership with Dylan Alcott to provide a $15,000 scholarship for an Australian with a disability to pursue their dreams in the arts.

Mushroom Music Publishing

Mushroom Music Publishing extended its ANZ deal with Sydney trio Middle Kids to include worldwide rights. They first signed in 2017 and have a new album Faith Crisis Pt. 1 out in February 2024.

Jimmy Barnes’ youngest daughter Elly May has been picked up by ABC Music, with a rock-orientated album due in 2024. Born premature, resulting in mild cerebral palsy, Barnes sang with her siblings in The Tin Lids between ages 2 and 5, was touring with her old man’s band by high school, sang with The Preatures and Neil Finn, and Deborah Harry and Boy George tried to adopt her at a Blondie show.

With the release of new single “Summer of Love”, Naarm/Melbourne-based folk troubadour  Jess Ribeiro announced a slate of new business partners – for recordings with Poison City (AU/NZ) and Labelman (UK/EU), and European agency Tout Par Tout (Beach House, Death Grips, Father John Misty) for UK/EU bookings. The song began during the heartbreaking Victorian summer of 2019/20, in a solar powered shack near Gadubanud Country/Apollo Bay, with her musical collaborator Dave Mudie.

How To Make Gravy movie

Streaming service BINGE green-lighted the feature film adaption of the 1996 Paul Kelly song “How To Make Gravy” about a prison inmate lamenting how he can’t get home for Christmas. Singer and screenwriter Megan Washington will adapt for screen, Nick Waterman will direct and Hugo Weaving head the cast.

Western Sydney Filipino-Australian R&B trio H3Rizon are picked up for America by Epic Records / Sony and Atlanta’s RZ3 Recordings. They’re currently in Los Angeles working on their first album.

BMG acquired the Dope Lemon catalogue from its creator Angus Stone. It globally covers 2016’s Honey Bones, 2019’s Smooth Big Cat and 2022’s Rose Pink Cadillac – which sold 250,00 in total – and the 2017 EP Hounds Tooth.

Mushroom Music Publishing celebrated 30 years with songwriter, producer and composer David Bridie by re-signing him for the world.

In the wake of a 120-date global tour and a record that stayed at #1 for 14 weeks, Melbourne band Kingswood have released their own Kingswood Lager. They’ve taken a totally independent route with the creation of the rice lager (which is almost gluten-free) but struck a deal with brewery and distilling Gypsy Hub to manufacture it. It will be available at their upcoming summer shows but a special announcement will be made at its launch on Friday November 17 at the Prince of Wales. Of the beer, they said:

“Beer has been the fuel of the Kingswood machine since the beginning, the beautiful lubrication accompanying the highs and the lows, the perfect punctuation at the end of a working day.”

More Super Tours In The Pipeline?

With 2023 chok-a-blok with international tours, and Queens Of The Stone Age, Bring Me The Horizon and Iron Maiden joining Taylor Swift and P!nk in the superstar stakes for 2024, more biggies may be coming in the next two years.

Beyonce is to be confirmed soon, while Adele, Sting, Billy Joel, Blink 182, Green Day, Creed and John Mellencamp are on the rumour list. 

Rhianna is coming out of a five-year hibernation with a $66 million show and plans for two albums in 2024 and 2025.

In the meantime, a Facebook group in Townsville have a campaign for Iron Maiden to add the north Queensland city’s 25,000 seat Queensland Country Bank Stadium to their itinerary arguing they could pull the numbers as Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, P!nk, Korn and Fear Factory did.

Blank Street Press Calls It A Day

After ten years of covering Gold Coast music and culture, Blank Street Press called it a day. Founders Chloe Popa and Samantha Morris said: “We hope Blank Street Press will be remembered for its fierce independence, its ethical business practices and for its unwavering support of art and community.”

Spotify Changing Royalty Model For Musicians

Spotify is changing its royalty model to introduce a “minimum payment threshold” for music artists and rights holders. It takes effect from early 2024 and has put aside US$1 billion in payouts to “working artists” over the next five years.

The current “streamshare” pro-rata royalty system will continue but Spotify will make three changes that are draining the royalty pool and stopping artists from getting more money.

They are a new minimum annual streams before they become eligible for royalties; fines for inflating sales figures to get more royalties; and a minimum length of play-time for a non-music ‘noise’ track like rain or static must reach (currently 30 seconds) to generate royalties.

But MiDia Research warns, “The majority of artists direct will no longer be paid for their contribution to the value of the $11.99 subscription. 

“The c.10% of consumption they will generate will disappear from the streaming revenue map. 

“They will be ‘othered’, their revenue becoming a new black box for the biggest artists to share between themselves. 

“Which means that, hey presto, all that annoying artists direct market share suddenly gets reallocated to everyone else. Market share erosion? What market share erosion?”

In the meantime, Spotify signed on 6 million Premium subscribers during the third quarter of 2023 (ending September 30) and now totals 226 million. It now has 574 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs) after growing 26% year on year.

Musical Chairs: changeover at MusicNSW, Live Nation, Wonderlick & More

Festival programmer, label owner and artist manager Joe Muller took over as managing director of MusicNSW on November 13. He was most recently music curator at Vivid Sydney, and replaced Emily Collins who is now interim head at new government agency Sound NSW.

Music export body Sounds Australia promoted producer Esti Zilber to executive producer after Millie Millgate became inaugural director of the government’s Music Australia.

Roger Field, president of Live Nation’s Asia Pacific and Australia/NZ operations, resigned to take a new direction in his life.

Jono Harrison was announced as Universal Music Australia’s GM of media & audience after five years at Spotify ANZ.

Wonderlick Entertainment Jess Keeley

Sydney-based management company Wonderlick Entertainment brought in Jess Keeley as director of artist management, and Los Angeles-based Danny Rukasin as partner and director of international.

Keeley managed and co-managed Shania Twain, Lykke Li, Arcade Fire and Marina & the Diamonds, and recently returned to Australia after stints in Los Angeles and London. 

Rukasin’s management company Best Friends Music includes Billie Eilish, Finneas, Role Model, Bishop Briggs and Lexi Jayde as clients.

After 3.5 years as head of music at Creative Australia where she tirelessly found new opportunities for contemporary music, Kirsty Rivers is departing at the end of the year for “new opportunities”. She was inducted into the Music Victoria hall of fame this year.

Support Act hired proud Baramadagal/ Burramattagal man of Dharug Country, Willem Brussen, as its First Nations social worker. 

After two years as head of membership at APRA AMCOS initiating many new services to members, Alison Wright has resigned.

Darwin Entertainment Centre welcomes Georgia Hendy as CEO from January. She was director of programming for Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC),

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’s new CEO is Gil Beckwith, previously its chief financial officer for almost five years.

South Australian Music Hall of Fame Inducts Paul Kelly, The Audreys

Adelaide-born Paul Kelly will be inducted into the South Australian Music Hall of Fame at the SA Music Awards on November 8.

He began “writing my first song in a flat in North Adelaide and my first band The Debutantes playing our first show at The Wellington Hotel” before moving to Melbourne in 1976. 

The Audreys are similarly honoured on November 17 at the Trinity Sessions. They were co-founded by Taasha Coates and the late Tristan Goodall who passed in 2022.

Elefant Traks Shades Development Label

Hip hop label Elefant Traks has a new development label Future Shade for artists with “a great deal of initiative, creative vision & strong hunger,” said label A&R Carolina De La Piedra. 

First signing Naarm-based, Toronto-born, rapper/singer/poet Hayku Kyah’s EP I Think You Should Hear It From Me drops November 13.

The imprint takes its name from The Herd’s final album in 2011, after the Greek proverb “A society grows great when people plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.”

Great Southern Winners

Winners of the Great Southern Songwriter got cash, as well as a copy of the Tracey Yarad book All These Pretty Things.

Winner Katie Reid got $1,000 for her song “Healing”. Runners up got a free Michael Vidale mixing and mastering package for one song.

Runners-up were Alice Benfer ($750) for “Widgee Widgee Station” co written with Kevin Bennett, while tied for third place were Elijah Shorter for “Bored” ($250) and Julie-Ann Glur’s “Static” ($250) co-written with John Williams.

Tidal Lets You Message To Collaborate

Music streaming service Tidal introduced a new feature Tidal Collabs which allows artists message other artists to set up collaborations – whether to finish their songs or do gigs together.

Tidas will also recommend like-minded talents for a catch-up. It says the number of tracks on the platform that were created out of collabs have jumped by 123% in the past four years.

New Greenie Website For Festival Goers

As we swing into the summer festival season, Green Music Australia has come up with a free website called Camping Buddy which offers tips on how to reduce waste at festivals.

Research commissioned by GMA found 50-80% of waste at festivals comes from campsites. 

Built with the Queensland University of Technology, its interactive checklist is about planning ahead, packing smarter and taking everything home.

“One plastic tent is the equivalent of 8,750 straws,” points out Green Music Australia (GMA) CEO, Berish Bilander. “When people abandon cheap single use tents at their campsite, they leave behind massive environmental damage.”

Revitalised Golden Stave Makes $200K

Back after a four-year hiatus due to COVID, the NSW music industry’s charity and boozy Golden Stave lunch proved a success.

300 execs from music, entertainment, travel and freight met at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney and raised $200,000 for children’s charities.

Performing were The Radiators, Dave Faulkner, Little Quirks, Tommy Dean, and Chris Ryan. 

Musicians in Court

A change in Queensland law has allowed a Sydney-based celebrity agent accused of raping and sexually assaulting a male singer in rural Queensland ten years ago to be identified. The Courier Mail reported that David James Champion, 62, was in Brisbane Magistrates Court last week and returns in January.

Champion’s Parade Management looked after reality show names as Dami Im, Shannon Noll, Samantha Jade, Jessica Mauboy, Guy Sebastian, Reece Mastin, Kate DeAraugo and Stan Walker, as well as David Campbell and Human Nature’s Toby Allen.

Afrobeat singer and producer Conccoin aka Patrick Bannah, 28, and Jonathan Zahinda, 26, were found guilty in the Adelaide District Court of raping and sexually assaulting a 15-year old who had tried alcohol and marijuana at a house party for the first time. They’ll be sentenced next month.

Two men are charged with allegedly assaulting aspiring Newcastle rapper M3llo aka Taison Brockbank, 23, on King Street and setting him alight with petrol. With burns to 46% of his body, he stumbled to a nearby McDonalds for help, and has undergone five operations and skin grafts.

Aspiring rapper, Lil Swift aka Eli Engwicht, 23, apologised in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court to media figure Yumi Stynes for sending obscene and threatening messages on social media.