Features November 25, 2019

2019 ARIA Awards: Chris Maund talks Mushroom’s 17 nominations

2019 ARIA Awards: Chris Maund talks Mushroom’s 17 nominations
Mushroom COO Chris Maund / Supplied

goes into the with 17 nominations for its labels, and over 40 taking in acts in its publishing, management and agency divisions.

“It was certainly a good year,” agrees Chris Maund, COO of Mushroom Labels & Mushroom Music Publishing.

What was particularly gratifying, he adds, is that two acts grabbed a large swag of the nominations, both for their second albums – with seven behind Run Home Slow and  with six for Crushing.

Mushroom Group’s across-the-board noms show a wide reflection of styles –a reflection, Maund points out, that each of the seven imprints are totally different.

“That’s always been the strategy,” Maund says. “We ensure they don’t bump into each other when we can, not to have the same genres or the same sounds.

“The people who run the labels are totally different —from Bloodlines which is run by Warren Costello to I Oh YOU and Johann (Ponniah) to Soothsayer the electronic label run by Chris Rigney.

“They’re all different ages and with very different music tastes.”

Mushroom, Michael Gudinski

The Teskey Brothers’ Run Home Slow debuted at #2 when released in early August. To set it up, Ivy League built up on the success of their 2017 debut Half Mile Harvest.

“That turned a lot of heads, and that set up a strong anticipation,” Maund says. “With this album we knew we had something very special. It’s real quality.”

Three things stood out. People who hear the Teskeys for the first time on radio and TV performances respond immediately to their sound and Josh (Teskey)’s voice.

They have a wide fan base, ranging from 14 to 70, and which consumes music on a wide range of formats. It was equally certain that their soul/blues style could not be a radio-driven campaign.

Instead, a series of singles a month apart built up to their largest tour to date.

There was a focus on radio and TV live appearances on the week of release. “Every time they did one, we would see huge spike in streams,” says Maund.

“People who were hearing them for the first time would react straight away.”

A substantial amount of Half Mile Harvest was sold on vinyl and CD, retail campaigns and in-stores close to release also made an impact.

Post-ARIAs, there are digital marketing plans set up, a new single to work, and a fresh retail campaign for pre and post-Christmas.

Maund says, “There’s a big word of mouth factor so I’m expecting the album to sell for a long time to come.”

Overseas, where the act is signed to Decca, work continues for radio and TV to translate their live strengths.

The Teskeys have started to sell out headline snows, and a US-run with Tash Sultana saw them play venues between 2,000 to 4,000, and before 12,000 at the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.

Crush Hour

Mushroom, Julia Jacklin

Julia Jacklin’s Crushing debuted at #10 on the ARIA Albums Chart, an achievement made greater by the reality that the charts tend to work against album acts who aren’t also core streaming acts.

Damian Slevison, managing director at Liberation Records, says; “In an age of declining album sales, the success of this campaign was a testimony to the great base of hardcore fans that had been built by her debut LP Don’t Let The Kids Win, a first-class strategic rollout and first and foremost, a stunning album that took people’s breath away with its emotion and incredible songwriting.

“The album rollout globally saw a series of dates to set up the album’s release across key markets and there was a very committed body of fans across key markets to make this a real success and fan the flames for the album’s continued build.

“Locally, there was an album tour in March which allowed (us) to build a very strong and condensed campaign across press, marketing, radio and hugely successful in-stores and touring.”

Also working in Jacklin’s favour are high profile celebrity fans: she was recently flown to Denver to perform a duet of her song ‘Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You’ with Lana Del Rey.

“The response from Lana’s fans was huge and no doubt will have a major long term effect on Julia’s continued build in the US and globally.”

Crime And Reason

Bloodlines’ campaign for Jimmy Barnes’  #1 debut My Criminal Record began six months before release, unusual for the singer.

Another point of difference for Barnes was that sessions had begun a year before.

Rather than his traditional approach of recording in one block, two best-selling memoirs and the continually-extended Stories & Songs tours that accompanied both forced him to break up the sessions.

The campaign under Bloodlines director and co-founder Warren Costello began with the title track lifted as a single and Barnes performing it live at the AFL Grand Final aftershow.

The national 12-date Red Hot Summer tour followed in January 2019, before regional shows, in Barnes’ heartland, reached between 75,000 to 100,000 patrons.

At each show, at least five new songs were previewed.

“The Bloodlines team worked hand in hand with Jimmy’s manager John Watson, publicist Rina Ferris and the tour promoter Duane McDonald to directly engage fans in a number of effective ways to raise awareness of the forthcoming album and simultaneously strengthen his database,” reveals Costello

The Bribie Island show in Queensland was filmed to generate variations of three live videos for social media rollout.

The single ‘Shutting Down Our Town’ was immediately picked up by the Triple M’s metro and regional networks, placing fourth on TMN’s Most Added To Radio in the week of release.

It was backed by a national publicity and promotional blitz that included multiple TV performances including ABC-TV’s Q&A where Barnes was joined by the song’s writer, Troy Cassar-Daley.

Costello adds, “It would be fair to say this song has been one of Jimmy’s most successful singles for many, many years and has been incredibly well-received by the media and fans alike.”

The launch of My Criminal Record came simultaneously with the Shutting Down Your Town National Tour, combining marketing plans and dollars with Mushroom Group’s Premier Artists and Frontier Touring.

A number of in-store appearances were well attended.

“They reinforced Jimmy’s standing with his fans – and also underscored his reputation as the hardest working man in Australian music as he signed and chatted to fans for hours on end,” relates Costello.

Now with third single ‘I Won’t Let You Down’ kicking in, plans are for My Criminal Record to be repackaged as a double album for the price of a single album (at Barnes’ request) with a live recording of the October 5 Hordern Pavilion show in Sydney.

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