Sarah Donelly talks about mushroom management
With the creation of a talent management unit, mushroom group returns to its roots.
At the end of February 2022, the independent music juggernaut officially launched Mushroom Management, a specialist management arm with an initial roster of nearly 50 artists, producers, musicians, songwriters, and content creators.
Artist management is in the bones of Mushroom.
Its founder, the late Michael Gudinski, had guided the careers of ARIA Hall of Fame inductees, Skyhooks, Jimmy Barnes and others, and cut his teeth in artist management.
Led by group CEO Matt Gudinski and company veteran Sarah Donelly, who serves as director of the new division, Mushroom Management integrates the company’s existing management agencies Converge Management, Foreign Echo and List of Companies. artists of Andy Kelly.
His stable includes Tkay Maidza, Bliss n Eso, Rolling Blackouts CF, merci, Mercy and The Living End, as well as top producers Konstantin Kersting and Scott Horscroft.
Mushroom Management has been “in the works for quite some time now,” Donelly told TMN.
“We were talking about this early last year and redefining what management is for Mushroom. We’ve been doing this for a while, but we’re looking to the future and converging.
The new arm, one of 20 companies that make up Mushroom Group, is already fully formed, with a team of managers including Barna Nemeth, Cara McDonald, Kirsty Kassabis, Marc Scarborough, Missy Scheinberg, Summer King and Donelly.
Joining them are Johann Ponniah and Scott Armstrong of Converge Management alongside Callum Wallace, Cameron McKinnon, Sasha Chifura and Shelley Liu of Foreign Echo, and Andy Kelly.
Having a prior connection with one of these companies, however, is not a prerequisite.
Neither is being a musician.
“We’re very artist-driven and want to make sure that whatever partner we’re working with, we’re making the right decisions for the artist,” says Donelly, “whether it’s their label, of its publisher, booking agent or promoter. We certainly don’t lock anyone into Mushroom businesses at any level. If we find someone we love and want to deal with them, that’s the formula for what we want to do. It’s who we are.
Among the launch list is a collection of content creators, including experts playing in the world of social media.
“We look at the entertainment industry as a whole,” says Donelly.
“We want to break down some of those barriers and be able to step forward and take care of anyone we consider to be of extraordinary talent.”
One suspects the late Gudinski would agree.
MG, who last March at the age of 68had a mantra to only get involved in businesses he knew inside out or had the horses with the know-how (an alliance with the British Basketball League was a mistake).
The opportunities weren’t limited to music.
Mushroom Group’s Frontier Touring produced the Titanic “Artifact Exhibition” at the Melbourne Museum in 2010, a show that proved so successful it ran for a long time.
The sprawling indie has also worked on a string of film and TV projects well outside of music, including the award-winning 2000 drama Chopper.
Management is a cornerstone of the empire built by Gudinski.
In the 1960s, a teenage and still shy MG was promoting dance parties all over Melbourne, booking alternative bands such as Chain and the Aztecs and leading several bands.
Gudinski caught the eye of AMBO founder Bill Joseph, one of Australia’s biggest promoters, agents and artist managers at the time. Joseph made the youngster an offer he couldn’t refuse, an offer that kept him in touch with all areas of the show business.
“I said I didn’t want to give up on my bands,” Gudinski told this reporter in a late 2009 interview. “I was still under 20. They basically changed the rules so that as a agent, I can be a manager of some acts.
Gudinski would drop out of school, learn the ropes, and change the independent music community.
Fast forward to 2022, with Matt Gudinski at the helm, Mushroom is making his entry into management formal.
His ambition, says Donelly, is to once again be a game changer for his clients – the artists – through knowledge sharing and old-fashioned goodwill.
“Michael was such an amazing leader and a true motivator,” she says. “It’s a special moment for me to be part of this new chapter at Mushroom and to work alongside Matt. I feel very, very lucky to be in the position that I am to take this to the next level.
“We have a little Michael Gudinski feather in our hat. We can really go ahead and do anything we see fit. I think he would be really happy.