With successes including Vance Joy, Illy, Northlane and The Amity Affliction, here's why Unified's CEO Jaddan Comerford has stayed in place at #7 on the Power 50.
2016 had in store a partnership with Live Nation, the launch of 1825 Records and the new The Unified Grant — now it seems 2017 will be another big one for Comerford and the team.
Head here to pre-order the AMID Power 50 for the full list.
7 (last year #7)
Just weeks after the publication of the 2015 Power 50, in which he cracked the top ten for the first time, Unified founder Jaddan Comerford was nominated by UK publication Music Business Worldwide for its Young Executive award. He didn't win — that honour went to Laurence Abrahams of London's SSB Solicitors — but it was another indication of the Melbourne-raised entrepreneur's rapidly growing status as a serious global player.
Comerford founded Unified in 2011 to consolidate the growing number of artist services he was providing through his Boomtown Records label and Staple management business. The company's day-to-day Australian operations are managed by Matthew Rogers, with Comerford overseeing everything from his new base in New York, though he's now moving his base to Venice Beach, California. In February, Unified launched touring arm Unify Presents, in conjunction with Live Nation, to complement its label and management operations. The new venture took little time to make its mark, with Bring Me The Horizon, A Day To Remember, Enter Shikari, Pierce The Veil, Slipknot, The Amity Affliction and a co-headline run by Northlane and In Hearts Wake instantly making impact on the local touring market.
After selling out for the second consecutive year, UNIFY: A Heavy Music Gathering, a boutique festival staged by Unified in conjunction with The Hills Are Alive, is expanding to two nights in 2017 and will again be at capacity by the time the January event rolls around. Unify Presents could also be preparing to enter the major festival market, with rumours persisting they will be promoter for an Australian iteration of monster heavy music festival Download (their partners Live Nation stage the event in the UK).
Unify Presents falls under the remit of Luke Logemann, who is also head of labels. He too had a busy year with Unified further diversifying its label roster, adding Nina Las Vegas' fledgling electronic imprint NLV Records to its stable. UNFD, home to artists such as Northlane and Dead Letter Circus, opened a Los Angeles office to support its London outpost. Hip hop label ONETWO, meanwhile, celebrated its biggest ever single in Illy's Papercuts, featuring Vera Blue, which is now certified three times platinum. The album from which it was lifted, Two Degrees, topped the charts upon its November release, giving the rapper his first #1 record.
Unified gets two bites of the cherry with Illy, as he is also represented by the company's management arm, WAU Management. Head of Artist Management Nick Yates makes his first appearance in the Power 50 in 2016; along with his Illy success, he oversaw the release of Violent Soho's WACO album, which also debuted at #1 and won the Brisbane band two ARIA awards. Sydney hardcore act Hellions joined the WAU fold in 2016, while The Amity Affliction debuted at #1 in Australia and #26 in the US with their fifth album, This Could Be Heartbreak.
The creation and development of 1825 Records with Wonder Management's Matt Emsell (5 Seconds Of Summer, Matt Corby) has been a huge priority for Comerford over the past 12 months. The Sydney-based 1825 exists to break Australian artists internationally, and operates with the backing of Warner Music Australia and Atlantic Records. It is managed and A&Red by Meg Meredith. Sydney artist Xavier Dunn, whose folk covers of Iggy Azalea and Kanye West have received millions of streams, was the label's first signing back in February. He was joined in October by Fountaineer, a four-piece from Bendigo who specialise in anthemic, radio-friendly rock. Their performance at this year's BIGSOUND conference had plenty of people talking and they already have some key fans at triple j. Watch this space.
Comerford's hefty CV scored him his own BIGSOUND slot, delivering a keynote address on the conference's opening day. He used it to announce the launch of The Unified Grant, an annual initiative to support young creatives working in the music industry. The five inaugural winners were announced in November, with each pocketing $5000. They were photographer Neal Walters; Darwin-based designer Georgia Beach of Office Gossip Design; producer Aaron Dobos; Ashleigh Hills of Tram Sessions, a series of live performances filmed aboard trams in Melbourne and Adelaide; and Michelle Grace Hunder and Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore of Her Sound, Her Story, a collaborative art project documenting women's contributions to Australian music.