News June 28, 2021

Inertia Music co-founder Justin Cosby passes away, aged 50

Inertia Music co-founder Justin Cosby passes away, aged 50

Justin Cosby, co-founder and head of A&R at Music, passed away on Friday. He was 50 years old.

In 2000, Cosby and best friend Ashley Sellars set up Inertia Music, with boxes piling up in a living room and maxed out credit cards.

It later expanded to become an influential record label and distribution company with scores of employees and divisions including Fairgrounds Festival, Handsome Tours, Gaga Music and Collective Artists.

Cosby and Sellars’ original plan for the in-house record label was to release EDM music, but through the years, Inertia launched or consolidated the careers of Sia, Björk, Ben Lee, Ali Barter, Mildlife, IDLES, Cigarettes After Sex, Nils Frahm, Jai Wolf, Neil and Liam Finn, Hockey Dad, Odesza, M83, Asgeir and Robyn, among others.

It represented indie labels including 4AD, Fat Possum, City Slang, Dead Oceans, XL Recordings and Secretly Canadian.

worked with Natalie Prass, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Matt Simons, Joan As A Police Woman and Claptone.

Throughout, Cosby’s mission remained the same: discover and be inspired by great music, and in turn make sure the rest of the world finds out about it not through a cookie-cutter formula but focussing just on their music and their personalities.

He detested how the music industry, both in Australia and overseas, grew reliant on collecting data rather than trust their ears and instinct the way he did.

Cosby was once asked about the coolest thing that ever happened to him at Inertia.

“I really struggle with this question. I mean, where do I start?

“Some very special/unique experiences might include flying/driving to Wisconsin in the height of winter to April Base studios for a weekend to hear Justin Vernon’s second opus Bon Iver.

“Or, driving across the Icelandic hinterland for a full day to a remote town (population 40) to hear Asgeir and his brother Thorsteinn perform an acoustic set in their local church, then share a meal with their parents in the family home.

“Returning to Reykjavik late at night to catch The Knife perform their last ever show (three hours) in Harpa Hall.

“Or, maybe sitting with Nick Cave and Warren Ellis at the Sydney Opera Bar celebrating their first ever #1 ARIA Album chart while they each ate the smallest meat pie I’ve ever seen, slowly, with a knife and fork.

“There have been a mountain of unique, unbelievable, endearing, questionable, affirming, hilarious, foggy moments.”

Inertia Music was acquired by [PIAS] in 2017, and earlier this year its label group rebranded to [PIAS] Australia.

At a similar time, Cosby and his business partners sold a major stake in Handsome Tours to TEG, with Cosby departing the business.

Inertia Music / [PIAS] Australia said Cosby was a “loving partner, dedicated friend, [and] inquisitive music lover”.

“His inexhaustible, enduring love of music and the relationships he invested in, personal and professional, will be his legacy,” a statement said.

The group asked that people respect Cosby’s privacy at this time, and said a memorial service is being planned, with details to be announced soon.

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