Meet the third most important person in the Australian music industry — none other than Universal Music Group's head honcho, George Ash.
2016 had in store a number of new opportunities — the launch of Bring and the Forbes Street Studios, as well as huge hits from the likes of Troye Sivan, Justin Bieber and Drake.
So far, Sony's Denis Handlin came in at #4, Live Nation Aus/NZ's Michael Coppel has come in at #5, triple j's Richard Kingsmill has come in at #6, UNIFIED's Jaddan Comerford has come in at #7, Future Classic's Nathan McLay and Chad Gillard have come in at #8, Apple executive Janelle McCarthy has come in at #9 and Spotify's Alicia Sbrugnera and Marcus Thaine has come in at #10.
Head here to pre-order the AMID Power 50 for the full list.
3 (last year 2)
Universal Music Group - President Asia Pacific
"Our biggest focus is our artists and their fans, that is what we prioritise and that is what will grow our business going forward," reads the George Ash quote on Universal Music Australia's official website. "The way we generate income is also changing and we're investing heavily in new areas to create new revenue stream [sic] for our artists. It's a very entrepreneurial environment to be in."
UMA's priorities seemingly no longer include maintaining their website - the company's huge social media followings have rendered that practice redundant - but Ash's mantra was the basic foundation for another dominant year for Universal Music's Australian arm.
Finding new ways to make money has become a priority for music labels big and small, and the New Zealand-born Ash - he moved to Australia in 2001 to become managing director of UMA, was named president of Australasia in 2010 and then Asia Pacific president in 2013 - continues to be proactive in pursuing such opportunities. UMA's first major initiative of 2016 was teaming with decorated PR/creative agencies One Green Bean and Host to create an agency of their own, Bring.
The eight-person team, led by former Universal execs Roddy Campbell and Cameron Farrelly with One Green Bean/Host founder and CEO Anthony Freedman, has since grown to 13, with its Creative In Residence (CIR) series a key service offered. This unites "artists and influencers" such as Ellie Goulding, Lady Gaga and boxer Mike Tyson with brands for collaborative marketing opportunities. The program launched in July with an integrated partnership between Troye Sivan and Optus: fans were directed to Optus stores to pick up a free Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer (the Sivan- and Optus-branded viewer was designed by the singer), through which they could watch an exclusive video of him soundchecking on his European tour. Punters could also enter a competition to win a meet-and-greet with the star. The UMA/Optus partnership also yielded exclusive performances by OneRepublic at Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal, with other Bring collars seeing The Preatures working with skincare company Kiehl's, and Client Liaison joining forces with 5 Seeds cider.
In October, Universal opened Forbes Street Studios, a state-of-the-art recording facility located adjacent to the company's Woolloomooloo headquarters. This adds to its growing portfolio of recording spaces, which includes London's iconic Abbey Road Studios, Capitol Studios in Hollywood and Interscope Studios in Santa Monica. A Forbes Street initiative will see artists who book three or more days at the studio receiving feedback and input from UMA and EMI A&R staff - a clever way for the labels to build relationships with (and keep an eye on) acts not on their books.
Chart-wise, Universal had another solid year, with Hilltop Hoods, Matt Corby, Drake, Keith Urban, Ariana Grande, Flume, The Avalanches, Frank Ocean, Bon Jovi and triple j's Like A Version among those that delivered chart-topping albums for the company. On the singles front, UMA began the year with Justin Bieber's Love Yourself and Sorry occupying the top two positions on the ARIA Singles Chart, the former's seven-week run making it one of the songs of the summer. Mid-year, Drake's evolution to genuine mainstream superstar in Australia was completed when One Dance, featuring Wizkid & Kyla, also spent seven weeks at #1 (Hotline Bling peaked at #2).
While Universal's patience was finally rewarded with a new album by The Avalanches - even they had to have given up on it - the company must have been just as satisfied with Corby's development. He scrapped his planned debut album two years ago and started from scratch, with the long-awaited replacement, Telluric, hitting #1 in Australia upon release but also impressing plenty of international critics, suggesting a promising future for the NSW singer-songwriter. Sivan's rise, meanwhile, continues unabated: his two ARIA wins (from seven nominations) icing on another big year. With his Facebook following now topping 2.5 million fans, EMI will be wanting him back in the studio as soon as possible. On the international front, a well-managed promotional tour from rising Canadian star Shawn Mendes (that included two sold-out Sydney shows) suggests he is primed to be a break-out talent in 2016.
Pleasingly for viewers of Foxtel's music channels Channel [V], [V] Hits, CMC, Max and Smooth, the aforementioned artists returned to their screens this year after a nine-month absence. A standoff between UMA and the pay TV company over royalties was resolved, returning some of the world's biggest acts to Foxtel programming.