The powerful duo are facing big changes at the moment, announcing just recently that entertainment behemoth Live Nation have bought a controlling share in their company Secret Sounds.
But Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco have made Splendour In The Grass and Falls Festivals the events they are all on their own, even without Live Nation's help. Here's why we think they deserve the #2 spot on the Power 50.
So far, the top 10 has been rounded out by Universal Music's George Ash at #3, 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.
2 (last year 3)
Jessica Ducrou/Paul Piticco
Secret Sounds, CEOs
One of the biggest announcements to hit the local industry in 2016, made as the Power 50 was in production, had a significant impact on the make-up of our top five. In early December Live Nation announced that it had purchased a controlling share in Secret Sounds, owner and producer of Splendour In The Grass and Falls Festival. The move surprised many in the industry, with the full ramifications unlikely to play out for a number of years. What is not in doubt, however, is that Secret Sounds' founders and co-CEOs Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco will now be staging their events with the backing of the world's largest live entertainment company. Ducrou told triple j's Hack program that the pair have retained creative control of the festivals' bookings, despite Live Nation now owning a 51% share in their company. "Paul and I will be booking the line-up like we always book the line-up — there's no pressure to put on more commercial artists because of [Live Nation's] touring arm," she said. "They're partnering with us to do what we do. We feel confident we will be able to maintain the integrity of Splendour and Falls."
In October, Ducrou and Piticco brought together their existing business interests under one name, Secret Sounds. These companies include Splendour and Falls, Secret Sounds Touring, Secret Service Artist Management, booking agency Village Sounds, labels Create/Control and Dew Process, Dew Process Publishing, Secret Service Public Relations and creative sponsorship agencies Secret Sounds Connect and Whole Lot Of Love. While the Live Nation purchase excludes Create/Control, the Dew Process label and publishing companies, the pair's interests in the North Byron Parklands site (home to Splendour and Falls) and Brisbane venue the Triffid, it now seems this consolidation was done in preparation for the sale which, according to the Financial Times, "values Secret Sounds at about $60m".
Splendour already wields substantial booking power, regularly landing the biggest names in contemporary music, but that is only set to increase with the added weight of Live Nation's global influence (and financial assistance). It's enough to have other Australian promoters worried. Michael Chugg, no small fish himself, told Hack in response to the sale, "They would like to see me and [Frontier Touring's] Michael Gudinski out of business. It's no secret that's been said at boardroom meetings in New York and LA." With Live Nation aggressively chasing a significantly larger Australian market share, it will be interesting to see whether Chugg and Frontier continue to place the artists they tour on Splendour and Falls; any support they give to their largest global competitor would have to deeply sting.
Label-wise, Dew Process delivered Bernard Fanning's third solo album, Civil Dusk, which debuted at number two. It was his first studio album not to hit the top spot, though it did win him an ARIA award for Best Adult Contemporary Album and a nomination for Best Male Artist. It is part one of a two-album set, with the second due early 2017. Tkay Maidza released her debut album Tkay; despite a strong publicity campaign that included triple j's Feature Album, it peaked at number 20 on the Australian charts and disappeared from the top 50 the following week. Overseas markets may already be more of a focus for the Adelaide-raised hip hop star, having scored a surprise nomination for Best New International Act at the 2016 BET Awards, and her guest spot on Martin Solveig's Do It Right sitting at more than 50 million combined Spotify/YouTube streams. Perth rockers Tired Lion signed to Dew Process in April, Melbourne virtuoso Harts inked a deal in June, while Kingswood will release their second album for the label in 2017.
Village Sounds, meanwhile, oversaw two massive Australian runs by Violent Soho in 2016: the first in May also featured DZ Deathrays, Dune Rats and The Gooch Palms on the bill, while the second in October saw US punks The Bronx, Luca Brasi and the aforementioned Tired Lion along for the ride.