exclusive Features December 20, 2019

Revealed: Winners of the 2019 Music’s Best Boss Awards

Revealed: Winners of the 2019 Music’s Best Boss Awards

It turns out there is no shortage of great bosses in the music industry.

Since asking the industry to nominate their worthy superiors, The Music Network has been inundated with hundreds of submissions.

Being a boss can be a thankless job, but plenty of you took the opportunity to give a shoutout to those who’ve been leaders throughout the industry.

We heard stories about bosses going the extra mile to get a hire over the line, taking time out from their daily routine to check in on struggling employees, and plenty who’ve put in countless hours behind the scenes to foster the best workplace culture possible.

So as we race towards the new decade, those leaders amongst us are about to receive some recognition (and a limited edition Best Boss coffee mug), and they’ve got you to thank for it.

Without further ado, here are the creme of the crop – as nominated by their employees.


Matt Tanner – Head Of Creative @ Native Tongue Publishing

Nominated by: Hazel Gordon 

There’s a lot that I could say here and I’ve re-written this a few times trying to get the word count down and condense my thoughts but in essence, I think Matt Tanner deserves this award because he meets all the criteria of a good leader; he’s fair, he’s kind, he’s knowledgeable, he trusts in people’s abilities and he treats everyone and speaks to everyone like they’re on exactly the same level… and I’ve never had a bad day working with him.

Matt is my immediate boss and we form a very close, small team together. Me doing A&R and  Writer Services things and Matt being the Head of Creative/ A&R as well as guiding me on basically everything that I do.

Matt has treated me like a peer from day one, I think of him as my boss (because he technically is) but I never feel like there is a hierarchy between us. He has always been interested in what I had to say and when I’ve been good at something he’s acknowledged it and told me “hey, you’ve got a great ear!” – he doesn’t hold back on compliments or constructive criticism and genuinely supports and encourages me. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of “biggest fans” in my life – my boyfriend and parents being two of them and Matt being another one. That is really fucking lucky and special. Most people don’t have bosses that back them the way that Matt backs me – and backs everyone in our company (including the writers that we work with I should say). He is really a big part of what makes the culture of this company so great.

He’s also a real champion for mental health and doesn’t ask for an explanation when you’re having an off day and need to take some time for yourself. He works to understand the battles that women and minorities have to face working in this industry and I can only speak to my experience but he’s fully on board to support and champion my voice when I call out bull shit.

Have still ended up writing heaps but to wrap it up let’s just say Matt is a straight shooter and all-round good egg and I believe he deserves to be acknowledged in this way.


Lisa Bishop – CEO @ Music SA

Nominated by: Gareth Wilkes

In the 5 years that Lisa has run Music SA, it has grown from a team of 3 to a full staff of 14 people and she has overseen the creation and delivery of the Umbrella Winter City Sounds festival, which is being taken statewide in South Australia in 2020, its 5th year as a festival.

Music SA commenced delivery of the SA Music awards under Lisa’s guidance and has become one of the biggest events on the Music Calendar in South Australia each year.

She has the support and trust of government and secured Music SA’s first (and second) triennial funding grants from the Music Development Office in Music SA’s history, allowing Music SA to put down roots and make meaningful change in the industry.

While she continues to kick goals for musicians and the music industry as a whole, she remains passionate and engaged. As a boss, she is friendly, supportive and encouraging and maintains an excellent culture and is so understanding that commitments of staff outside of work to the greater music industry help Music SA maintain its relevance. As such, she provides flexible working arrangements to allow for this. Winner or not, she IS the best boss in Music!

Nominated by: Louis Donnarumma

Lisa Bishop rocks! The most hard-working, talented boss. She works damn hard at Music SA, doing everything she can for the SA music community and culture.

Nominated by: Dale Taylor

I have been with the organisation for 14yrs. in the 5years that Lisa has been onboard I have witnessed a dramatic growth in the organisation from 4 people to 14. During Lisa’s tenure, our organisation has taken on board many new projects and initiatives such as the SA Music Awards, Umbrella Music Festival as well as our various industry development workshops to name a few.

This has been greatly beneficial to the growth organisation and local music industry as a whole. Music SA have a fantastic team and culture of supportive music industry professionals. Music SA continues to grow under Lisa’s guidance.

Nominated by: Elli Cleary

The loudest, most inappropriate singing of Mariah Carey Christmas Carols in a shared office space as well as excessive amounts of cake for every staff birthday.. but seriously – she does so much for this organisation and has lead us through some tough times this year with compassion and strength. It’s been an honour to work for her.


Sharda Strathearn – National Staff and Volunteer Manager @ Secret Sounds

Nominated by: Dean Tindale

Sharda hired me back in the day for Moshtix (8 years ago), she then moved to Byron Bay and would fly me up to look after her cat Maxi. Once I finally chose to move up to paradise she has hired me to help her with Splendour and Falls. Not only is she the best boss however she is also the best all-round chick I have met and now consider her now to be my best friend!

For her birthday 2 years ago (at falls) we gave her a box of site supplies including zip ties, fake wristbands from the punters, lippy from sponsorship, a traffic wand from traffic, caution tape from site, a helmet from gate operations, a water bottle from herself – well you get the point… This year for her birthday she would love the 2019 best boss mug.

Nominated by: Kate Saunders

Professional, hardworking, approachable.

Nominated by: Julieanne Carson

100% one of the most calmest and positive  persons festival time, who really gets along with everyone. Quite a challenge considering the role.

An extraordinary person. For that 4-5 days 2 x a year we work together, she just goes above and beyond. Great to watch and learn from, specifically in high-pressure scenarios.

#teamsharda

Nominated by: Bridget Watkins

Sharda is the most humblest person I know in the music industry- she empathises with her staff and volunteers as she has been in the various roles that are on offer at these festivals, she knows how the roles operate and can provide the love and support that we need while on the ground.

Sharda offers us all opportunities where we can spread our wings and fly and be the best version of ourselves!

Sharda has no ego and has an approachable persona where no question is too silly – she provides a work space that nurtures and allows us to grow – she deserves the recognition for all she does and all the success that her team has due to her amazing leadership.

Nominated by: Joanne Osborn

Beautiful, efficient, understanding boss you could ever have. Nothing is too hard to solve and she has an engaging personality that assures you in the job. Encourages team bonds that become lasting professional friendships. Sharda builds a great team so everyone in the team takes on their role 100% this ensures that our festival runs smoothly and efficiently. 💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐💐

Nominated by: Jason Nixayathirath

One of the most genuine and down to earth bosses

I’ve ever worked for. She deserves it.

Nominated by: Indiana Coelho-King

Sharda is the type of boss that goes above and beyond for her staff and volunteers. She will support you through all the ups and downs that go with putting on a music festival.  She has helped shape my career and professional life and showed me how to transform my skills. I really appreciate everything she has done for me!

She gave me the time, training, patience and support after overcoming a serious head injury and gave me the opportunity to get back into my favourite thing in the world – Events. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. I started out as her intern over three years ago and she has now helped me grow and develop to now look after a team of up to 300+ staff and 1200 volunteers for multiple Secret Sound Events. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. She doesn’t sweat the small stuff and creates a solution to everything.

The most organised, down to earth, loving and genuine bosses I’ve ever had. She surprised me with a spar day after our first event together to say thank you for all my work and it’s been a tradition ever since. Now I organise things like that to say thank you for being such a great boss to work with.

If anyone should be recommended for the Music’s Best Boss award in the music industry it should definitely be Sharda Strathean.

Nominated by: Caroline Miles

Sharda is genuinely one of the most helping, strong, passionate and hardworking bosses I’ve ever had.

Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am today!

Nominated by: Clare Chapman

She’s relatable, fair, friendly, inspiring

Nominated by: Pia Addenbrooke

Total legend puts her heart mind and soul all in every year such a pleasure to deal with handles such a huge amount of pressure like water rolls off a ducks back, really truly is the best boss ever and she always hires such a talented tight-knit crew so professional and always such successful events…

She is totally amazing and deserves this award. Hands down.

Nominated by: Natalie Onions

Sharda is like a mum, positive vibes all the time and strong work ethic. She always has a kind heart and love to give whilst getting the job done

Nominated by: Brooke Pettit

It’s hard to fit so much into such a small summary. Whether you’re a first-year volunteer or a returning staff member at Falls or Splendour, Sharda will take the time to know you so when you come back again you’d almost consider her a friend and there are hugs all round!

She’s kept in touch even though I’ve not been able to do falls this year, to invite me to other contracted events (I.e download) and last year after my move from the GC to Melbourne, facilitated my involvement in Falls Lorne so I didn’t miss out. Sharda is simply fantastic!


Duncan Steward – Singer/Artist/Motivational Speaker

Nominated by: Rachael Leahcar

Duncan has been my manager for 18 months now, during this time he has proven to be a kind, caring and considerate person who listens and responds to all my concerns and acts promptly to gets things done.

I think Duncan needs to be recognised for all that he does for me as he has to pitch harder to win gigs for me as I am totally blind! It is not easy to get gigs for people with a disability, yet Duncan has been there for me right from the start.

When I was studying for my degree and was only available to perform on a limited basis, Duncan managed to keep finding me corporate gigs that kept me going at my manageable pace. When I graduated and became more available to perform, he found me an average of two gigs per week which was all I wanted to do at the time. He filters through all the requests that come and responds to everyone accordingly.

Duncan has also been instrumental in guiding me through loading my original songs on all streaming platforms, teaching me along the way so I may learn how to do these things myself in the future.

I have been privileged to travel interstate and to other regional areas of NSW for certain performances, which has been great as I get to see parts of the country I normally wouldn’t get to. Everyone who Duncan has put me in touch with looks after me very well. He will always pick up the phone, no matter what time it is, to answer any questions. I trust that he has my best interest at heart and he never pressures me for his fees, even if I don’t pay them in time sometimes.

Duncan also plays a major role in keeping me on top of my social media management. He will suggest certain times to do certain posts and sometimes will help me with wording when needed.

Given that Duncan lives in Melbourne and I am based in Sydney, distance has never mattered as he will always respond to my questions by phone, message or facetime if needed.

Duncan’s background in business and wellbeing gives me assurance that I have the right person on board guiding me. I would recommend Duncan as a manager to anyone who may need one.

Nominated by: Lara Nakhle

I met Duncan a couple of years ago when I was feeling quite alone in the music business. I didn’t feel like I had the support or opportunities I needed to succeed – I’d hit a wall and it was getting me down. Duncan had sent me some direct messages on Twitter – not only did he inform me about his success in his music management degree, but we are also both legally blind so I thought I’d meet with him and see what his thoughts were on the direction of my career.

He has always been very genuine and encouraging, always putting his whole heart into any project. I was very honoured to be the first artist to sign up with him, and since then many have signed on after seeing the benefits of having him on the team. Duncan literally saved my career by giving me that extra inspiration and belief in me when I needed it most and I will always be grateful. He cares about all his artists/clients and I know he truly wants the best for them over monetary gain, which is incredibly rare.

I think Duncan should win all the awards. Not only is he an amazing manager, but when you’re in a tough industry and living with a disability, you aren’t always taken seriously so he’s also got this barrier to fight through and he knocks it down every time. He ROCKS!! 🙂

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