EXCLUSIVE: Brisbane’s SGC sets up for strong 2019 with restructure, new hires: “We don’t want to lose the ability to find amazing things”
After a stellar year, Brisbane music company SGC Group is preparing to move into new premises in Fortitude Valley.
The purpose-built 200m2 headquarters used to be an RSL club and war memorial.
It was razed to the ground, and all that remains is the stage and mirrorball from the club’s bar.
“We moved into this current place eight years ago,” recounts founder and managing director Stephen Green. “There were only three of us then and already it was crowded.”
Now the company has eleven on its team, with new hires as part of a restructure.
The new offices’ floor plan is a perfect reflection of SGC’s culture – growing from Green’s original PR company to one which has a number of niche genre firms covering hip hop, metal, indie and emerging.
The decision-making is spread across-the-board but with the focus on each department’s distinct culture.
All of them had impressive strike rates this year, and Green outlines expansion plans for each through 2019.
Call and Response under Josh Taylor-Anderson have been working at PR for hip hop events and managing the likes of electronic musician Luke Million, producer James Angus and rapper Carmouflage Rose who recently achieved gold for his debut single “Late Nights”.
But the new Call and Response hip hop show on MTV has opened doors for the division.
“The show has been a wild success. It’s quite interesting how it’s struck a nerve with the culture you’re trying to serve.
“It’s made us rethink a little bit to what that business can do. It’s given us a wider range of people we’re talking to across the board, majors and indies.
“It also shows the power of the smaller independent artists where you see massive spikes in TV ratings or socials when some of them have never been played on TV before.
“So 2019 for us is, we’ve got television, what other mediums can we take hip hop to that aren’t necessarily playing in that space?”
Emma Jones, ex-editor for tastemaker blog Purple Sneakers, comes on board as the division expands its activities, “the gaps in the hip hop community and trying to fill them and take that entire genre to a next level.”
Then there’s Collision Course spearheaded by Tim Price, also chasing new opportunities for the metal community.
Its online radio station The Faction (“again, it’s achieved more than we anticipated”) has opened up to how rabidly loyal the metal audience can be and how it hungrily devours new music.
The station’s Hardest 100 poll at launch drew over 100,000 votes. It returns in 2019 to list what pushed buttons in the past 12 months.
Green observes, “It’s one of those things which galvanises the community.
“It’s not just about the radio station, it’s about finding things where the community can come together and celebrate the genre because a niche like metal doesn’t always have that rallying point.
“We’re careful programming the station that it covers everything and also that female voices are being heard in what is a male-skewed genre, and helping that cultural change as well.”
The Faction’s also opened new discussions with future major and independent partners to reach metal followers.
Joining Collision Course for its PR clients and The Faction is Marienne Te Haara.
She began in New Zealand at OneMusic in licensing as well as backstage roles in Australian festivals as Unify Gathering, Soundwave, NYE on the Hill and across to the US to work at Warped Tour.
Emily Fernandez also joins the fold, working across Title Track and minor//MAJOR as a junior publicist, enabling the expansion of both businesses.
Title Track, under manager Sarah Chipman, successfully discovered and PR’d new acts as Hatchie, Cub Sport, Manu Crook$, Saskwatch and Dear Seattle – and built them up to their first single and beyond.
“You’d be hard pressed to find a company, large or small, that’s got a better hit rate with triple j than what Title Track has,” Green says.
“So 2019 for Title Track will be to continue picking up on what’s in the underground and bring it to mainstream audiences.”
The latest addition to SGC, minor//MAJOR, has had success in the past 12 months under Nick Price working with new acts ready for a jump-off point but without the budget or the board runs.
Cara Anderson shifts role to become the group’s digital and social coordinator, working the latest in social advertising techniques as part of more traditional marketing.
SGC Media, the flagship which looks after its commercially focussed projects, is already set for a strong 2019.
It’s picked up the Australian Music Prize as a client and nailed down other projects to be divulged down the track.
With senior publicist Mitch Fresta and radio publicist Ali Donnellan, it worked three #1 albums this year (Sheppard, John Butler, Gurrumul) and blue-chip initiatives as BIGSOUND (Green is vice president of organiser QMusic), the National Indigenous Music Awards and Barunga Festival and continues to be the Australian rep for the Play MPE and the UK’s Radio Monitor.
“The key for us is making sure that while we have the larger projects, that we also still have a major focus on new artists.
“We don’t want to lose the ability to find amazing things and bring them to the commercial side of the fence.”
SGC recently helped launch the first Indigenous music chart –a success with commercial and community radio.
“Their response is that they don’t have the time to investigate every indigenous release that comes out each week but they do want to support them.
“The chart does that for them, and some have already committed to playing the top track of each week.
“In time we’ll leverage the chart data for as many things as possible, including the integration of sales data.
“The awards has been the most inspiring projects I’ve been part of, and how can we have a week of exposure for the music, rather than just once a year.”
As for the next SGC division, it would be about country music, as long as he finds the person with the passion and contacts.
As the company moves into its new era, Green emphasises, “The fact that we’re based in Brisbane is really important.
“Having an infrastructure here, and employers and businesses, and to be able to make a difference is really important to me.
“It’s having our own community here where we can all work together. It makes a big difference to the world we live in.
“We’re not in the Melbourne bubble and we’re not in the Sydney bubble, and we’re not big enough to have a bubble of our own so it’s a perspective that is truly national.”