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News January 12, 2024

Mike Taylor, Ex-Universal Music Australia Executive and A&R Star, Has Died

Mike Taylor, Ex-Universal Music Australia Executive and A&R Star, Has Died

Mike Taylor has lost his battle with cancer.

One of Australia’s most successful A&R executives, who for many years was the highest-flying American-born and raised professional in the Australian music industry, succumbed to his health problems following a return to his homeland, sources tell The Music Network.

Taylor died peacefully on Thursday (Jan. 11) in Brewster, New York, surrounded by his family and loved ones. He was 54.

The music man’s fingerprints were on some Australia’s biggest records. It was Taylor who A&R’d Delta Goodrem’s 2003 Sony Music release Innocent Eyes, one of the best-selling homegrown albums in Australian recorded music history.

Taylor had a 15-year run with Universal Music Australia, which included stints as executive VP, A&R and founding general manager and head of UMA imprint, Island Records Australia.

The late executive was instrumental in growing the music major’s domestic roster, signing a long list of homegrown stars including Hilltop Hoods, Havana Brown, Baker Boy, Briggs, Clare Bowditch, Shane Nicholson, The McClymonts and Dean Lewis.

Michael Taylor

“It’s still about great songs and exciting, true talent,” Taylor said of contemporary A&R, during an interview with this reporter in 2013.

“However, you’re seeing a change in terms of how quickly things can happen now in the A&R world.  A song or video reacting online can overnight turn into an A&R signing frenzy, to a priority push at a major in a few days. Personally, I don’t chase trends as you’re then behind the curve. Rather, I look at what really excites me and what seems to be exciting those around me.”

Based in Sydney, Taylor served as managing director of UMA from June 2014 to September 2022, at which time he stepped aside to launch his own endeavours as an executive music consultant, A&R and artist manager, through his venture Shoot True.

Prior to joining UMA in 2007, he served as head of A&R at Sony Music Australia and as senior director with the major’s Epic Music division, and ran the A&R activities for Madonna’s Maverick Recording Company before that.

When Taylor announced his exit from UMA in September 2022, he revealed that he would do so for personal reasons and to dedicate more time to ongoing treatments.

Taylor is survived by his wife Jenny and son Charlie. A funeral will be held in New York in the coming weeks, reads a family message, and a celebration of his life will follow in Sydney.

A formal statement on Taylor’s passing is expected to be issued over the weekend. 

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