Mushroom Group, the independent music juggernaut, partners up with Universal Music Group’s indie label and artist services division on a multi-tiered arrangement that promises to lift the Australia company to “new heights” and secure global opportunities for its artists.
The alliance, announced Thursday (March 17), is a two-way street, pumping fresh content into the Virgin Music Label & Artist Services (VLMAS) pipeline, and providing support and distribution services for Mushroom artists’ releases, for the world outside of Australia and New Zealand.
Under the terms of the new deal, VLMAS will activate its global promotion, marketing and audience label services for Mushroom’s existing U.S. and U.K. activities, and, in situations where both parties agree on a project, certain Mushroom artist releases will be uploaded into UMG’s label network.
The partnership combines the machinery of UMG, the world’s largest music company, led by the Lucian Grainge, the reigning Billboard Power Player and executive of the decade, with the iconic indie built from the ground up by its late chairman, Michael Gudinski, Billboard’s reigning International Power Player, and now led by his son, Matt.
As the global alliance is presented to the industry, Mushroom appoints London-based Korda Marshall as international director, co-leading the partnership with Mushroom Label and Publishing’s COO Chris Maund.
Marshall, a longtime member of the Mushroom Group “family” and a trusted and respected colleague of Michael Gudinski, served as managing director of Mushroom Records prior to its sale to News Corp in 1998, and guided the successes of Muse, Garbage, Ash and Paul Oakenfold.
He returns to the Mushroom fold from BMG, which had acquired Infectious Records back in 2014.
“I’m so happy to be returning to the Mushroom Group, it feels like coming home after a long and winding road trip around the music business and I look forward to working with all the labels and their amazing artists,” Marshall enthuses in a statement. “Our new deal with Universal provides a fantastic opportunity to work closely with one of the finest music companies in the world.”
Marshall’s first U.K. signing in the new structure is joshua epithet, while the first slate of Mushroom acts to be serviced through the VLMAS network will include DMA’S, merci, mercy, Mia Wray and Yen Strange.
The development “marks the beginning of a new collaboration between two historically entrepreneurial companies that have both introduced countless superstar artists and helped shape and influence independent music for decades,” comments Grainge, chairman & CEO, Universal Music Group.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Matt Gudinski, who is honoring his father’s great legacy by bringing Mushroom to new heights, and with Korda who has been a force in the U.K. creative community for decades.”
Mushroom has been a “market leader for decades in Australia and today we take another huge step in building Mushroom into a truly global brand,” comments Mushroom CEO Matt Gudinski. “Our A&R staff are world class and we, together with Virgin/UMG, we’re going to break artists from any part of the globe to every part of the globe.”
Since rolling out in January 2021, VMLAS has opened hubs around the globe, with offices in the U.S., Japan, U.K., Germany and across Central Europe, France, Australia & New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, Western Balkans, Brazil, Mexico, Spain and Portugal. Further markets will launch in the coming months, according to a joint statement.
Following the pact, Mushroom’s label division remains 100% independently-owned and its established ANZ operations will remain unchanged. In Australia and New Zealand, Mushroom will continue to digitally distribute its own works, as Merlin members, and continue its long-standing physical distribution partnership with the Australian affiliate of Universal Music.