News August 15, 2016

Exclusive: Tim McGee on Ministry of Sound Australia’s future

Sony Music UK yesterday announced the purchase of London-based Ministry Of Sound (MOS), signaling a new beginning for its Australian counterpart, now synonymous with dance music culture down-under.

Led by CEO Tim McGee, MOS Australia has achieved sales of more than 7 million albums, and in the first half of 2016, secured an impressive 18.65% market share on TMN’s Dance chart courtesy of MOS, Hussle and Vicious.

Rewind to 2004, when Shannon Noll and Anastacia topped the ARIA End of Year Singles chart, McGee was finalising a deal that would secure him the exclusive licence for the MOS brand in Australia.

“Ministry in the UK were looking for an experienced partner in Australia, and I came on board to launch it here in 2000, acquiring the Ministry of Sound brand license for Australia in 2004,” McGee said, talking exclusively to TMN.

17 years on, and McGee’s business has, rather impressively, evolved into a full-service music company spanning artist management, touring, publishing, content, rights management and live events; weathering both the digital download and streaming storm with much success.

“Touring and events is a big part of our business, and we’ve had huge success with Soapbox Agency and also the recent launch of Nuffsaid Agency,” McGee said about MOS Australia’s diversifications.

He added: “Under Crown Rights, we manage some amazing artists such as Kilter, SCNDL, Uberjak’d, Didier Cohen and Jesabel. 120 Publishing has had some huge successes recently including a major K-Mart sync for The Potbelleez and a sync for the HBO series Ballers.”

When the current fiscal year comes to a close on 30 June 2017, MOS Australia will lose some key artists it inherited through the local brand licence, including hit-makers Sigala and DJ Fresh; both will move to Sony Music Australia (SME) as part of the acquisition.

McGee told TMN that any artists signed to MOS UK will now move to Sony, and added: “These artists only represent about 5% of our [domestic] repertoire”.

Also finding a new home with SME are some of dance music’s best-selling compilation albums of all time; The Annual, The Weekender, Clubber’s Guide and Chillout Sessions. MOS Australia released 22 compilation albums in the 2016 financial year, with 12 claiming a position on ARIA’s 2015 end of year Compilation Albums chart.

“Streaming has had a big impact on compilation sales which have been in decline for some time, so we are focused on building a repertoire business that exploits this new opportunity.

“We are very focused on playlist servicing and maximising our reach in the streaming world. It’s great to see local artists such as Set Mo and Kilter get great traction with streaming in overseas markets. It’s a great opportunity for our artists to build an international profile,” McGee said.

However, possibly the biggest change for McGee and his Sydney-based team is that they will be forfeiting the rights to what has become the most influential dance music lifestyle brand in Australia.

A new name will be announced “in due course” and McGee confirmed that his company “will still be working with the MOS brand on events”.

Looking to the future, McGee and his yet-to-be-renamed music company will be looking to diversify further and continue to grow its local A&R endeavours via its labels: Hussle, Downright, Astrx, etcetc and joint venture labels Central Station, Vicious and Bourne.

“We’ve never felt more confident in our A&R and our ability to exploit releases with a global outlook,” he said in a statement. “In the past few years alone we have seen local artists such as Timmy Trumpet, Savage, Kilter, Set Mo, Joel Fletcher, Tommy Trash and Will Sparks not only achieve huge success in Australia but also kick huge goals in international territories.

“We’ve achieved multiple gold and platinum selling records for international artists including Lost Frequencies, Duke Dumont, Cheat Codes & Kris Kross Amsterdam, Martin Garrix and Imany,” McGee added, “and the next few months alone sees new releases from Armand Van Helden, Tommy Trash, New Zealand singles chart #1 Kings, Savage and album projects from PNAU, Timmy Trumpet and Kilter.”

Universal Music Australia currently distributes MOS, and according to TMN sources, the long-standing partnership between the pair is understood to be up for review shortly.

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