Ahead of Mushroom Group’s 50th Anniversary, Matt Gudinski Talks Challenges, Priorities and Frontier’s ‘Strongest Point Ever’
For Matt Gudinski and his team at Mushroom Group, challenges are an obstacle.
After two-plus years of punishment from the pandemic, and the loss of the great Michael Gudinski, the independent music business has been on a roll with tour announcements, new hires, alliances, opportunities.
Matt Gudinski this year boasts 20 years with the company, and now steers the Mushroom Group mothership as CEO.
It was Gudinski who was at the helm when Mushroom announced its new talent management division, an international deal with Universal Music’s Virgin Music, and the realignment of Frontier Touring, which is involved in open-air tours for Elton John and Ed Sheeran, both of which are creeping towards the million-tickets milestone.
Last Thursday (Sept. 8) at Bigsound 2022, Gudinski sat for a keynote interview with TMN’s senior writer Lars Brandle for a look into the future of Mushroom Group, and a glimpse at the past.
With Mushroom Group set to celebrate its first five decades in business, TMN selects five notable insights from that session.
The challenges, the future of Frontier:
It was always going to be really busy, touring internationally was always going to be nuts as we came out of the pandemic… We’re probably fortunate that the larger touring artists that we have relationships with were wanting to get to market this year, whether it was Billie Eilish or The Killers, Ed Sheeran, Elton John, so many others. It’ll definitely be over 60 (tours).
To have those big names create a platform for that really made a difference.
It’s very difficult to sell tickets at the moment. It’s very hit and miss. The superstar artists are selling really well…it’s the middle sector, you got to launch these right, find the right period to roll out.
There’s so many tours coming out, it’s more competitive than ever.
For the fan out there, it’s an exciting time. It’s endless choice. It’s challenging with supply shortages, it’s probably the first time promoters have worked closely together to ensure we can actually deliver all the shows… over the next six to eight months, because, yes, there definitely are challenges out there.
Frontier is more than music:
We’re definitely involved in a lot of areas that aren’t strictly music. That’s something you’ll see more from the group, especially now that events and the live business (are back).
We’ve done things like the Titanic (exhibition), there’s been quite a few others.
We’re really focused with the experience of the team and the expertise we’ve got in that space in developing experiences.
Most of them tie-back to music in some way, and brings it back to the core of what Mushroom is.
It’s pretty widely known that the live side of Mushroom is a massive part of the business. The touring game has its challenges…we’re very set on continuing on the path of what Frontier and the live division of Mushroom is about, and that is to keep the independent feeling.
It’s not just to continue to keep the market share but to keep delivering the level of global superstars we have…it’s a credit to not just the foundations that are laid but to the great team that we’ve got to how Frontier is probably at its strongest point ever.
Matt Gudinski’s management style:
It’s always an open-door policy, and very collaborative. No matter who you are in the business, everyone’s opinion and everyone’s idea is treated with the same merit.
My dad was obviously a larger-than-life figure and maybe some people out there thought that Mushroom was all about him, a one-man band.
It was never that, never will be.
Now there’s an opportunity for so many great people who’ve been part of the Mushroom Group for a long period of time to build up their profiles and really make a mark on this company and its future.
We’re all about investing in talent. I consider talent not just to be artists. We really heavily support and invest in entrepreneurs.
Being able to help people realise their vision. Brining their vision to life is something I’m very passionate about.
There are so many success stories within the Mushroom Group that highlight that.. our door is always open to chat about opportunities and support people make their own realities.
Matt Gudinski’s “Bucket List”:
(A U.S. No. 1) was definitely a big goal of my dad’s and because it was a goal of his, it’s something that I’d love for the company to fulfill.
To be not really focused or driven by wins like that, if it’s meant to be, it’ll be.
At the time he had that dream, Australian artists having success outside of a very select few globally, or at least the biggest music market, the U.S., was a foreign concept.
Now there’s so many artists that are making noise, having success globally.
International success and for artists to have that international success is a big priority, a big goal of mine.
We have some who are doing really well, but we’d like them to go ever further.
Mushroom Group’s 50 candles:
We have major plans. When the company celebrated its 25th anniversary, we had a concert at the MCG, November 14, 1998.
At the time it was the most attended, ticketed concert in Australian history, 73,000-odd attended.
I don’t plan to replicate that but we have a number of really exciting ideas in the works that we’ll put together for next year.
While we’ll be doing a lot externally, a lot will be a celebration internally. There are so many people who’ve been part of the Mushroom story.
There are some who’ve been involved the whole way, and many have gone on to have significant success in other companies and other parts of the industry, both globally and internationally.
A priority would be getting everyone together and celebrating that.
Stay tuned for a lot more on the roll out for that.