Live Business Breakfast: Variety Australia, Twilio Presents ‘Promoter of the Year’

Live Business Breakfast: Variety Australia, Twilio

Australia’s premium youth publisher, The Brag Media, presents Variety Australia and Twilio’s inaugural Live Business Breakfast, June 13 at Sydney’s 12-Micron. On the morning, seven special awards will be handed out for excellence in live entertainment.

Variety Australia now unveils the winner for one of those categories, Promoter of the Year.

Onwards, upwards. Those two words could define the culture and activity of Frontier Touring.

The concerts juggernaut has come out firing since the double-blow of the pandemic and the loss of its inspirational leader, Michael Gudinski.

2023 was a record-breaking year for Frontier Touring, whose parent Mushroom Group, led by chairman and CEO Matt Gudinski, celebrated 50 years in business.

During that stretch, Frontier Touring produced more than 600 shows, with more than 40 of those in major stadiums – including Sheeran’s “The Mathematics Tour,” which played two record-busting nights at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Frontier Touring is relentless, a trait of the late Gudinski.

“We successfully broke over 20 talented new artists, introducing them as touring headliners to Australian audiences for the first time and helping them cement a following that will stay with them for years to come,” explains Dion Brant, CEO of Frontier Touring who, along with COO Susan Heymann, was named to Billboard’s International Power Players List.

Frontier’s approach “is different to other promoters,” Brant notes. “Our priorities are the artist, the fans and the show, ahead of the net profit or the quarterly market update. It’s a difference we pride ourselves on and we believe is an integral ingredient in our ongoing success.”

Frontier’s big year included tours for Foo Fighters, Sam Smith, Robbie Williams, BLACKPINK, Kraftwerk, Paramore, plus homegrown talent The Teskey Brothers, DMA’S, G Flip and many others.

It took nearly a quarter century to bring Paul McCartney back to Australia, which Frontier Touring did in 2017 with a major stadium tour. The Beatles great clearly enjoyed himself; he returned in 2023 for the “Got Back” national stadium run, also for Frontier Touring.

Paul McCartney performs at Adelaide Entertainment Centre

If the Beatles is the most popular band of them all, there’s no point arguing who wears the pop crown right now – Taylor Swift. Frontier Touring was, of course, behind TayTay’s “The Eras Tour” of Australia, which crushed existing national pre-sales records. Two cities, two stadiums, seven shows, every ticket sold in a blink. One can only imagine how many shows Swift could have sold out if she time for an full-scale, trans-Tasman trek.

Mushroom Group’s chief Matt Gudinski has an idea. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen demand for a tour, not just that Frontier, but for any promoters,” he told this reporter ahead of the tour. “For every one person that’s bought a ticket, there’s probably another 20 in Australia that wants a ticket. To get her back working with Frontier is something that we’re really excited about. We’ve worked with Taylor many times before. She loves Australia,” he explained. “And I know it would have meant a lot to my dad who had a great relationship with Taylor.”

From a “cultural perspective, she overshadowed everything,” noted Brant during the May 20 promoters panel at the 31st Asia-Pacific Venue Industry Congress in Brisbane.

Founded in 1979, Frontier Touring was established on the core value of putting artists and fans first. A new-look leadership team was unveiled in 2022, part of wider restructuring designed to help the “legacy, mission, and culture” of Frontier to flourish following the 2021 passing of Gudinski.

Through that new set up, the executive team reports to the Frontier Touring board, which includes Matt Gudinski and several executives from AEG Presents, which struck a joint venture with Frontier in 2019, including Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO, AEG Presents and COO, office of the chairman at AEG, and Adam Wilkes, president and CEO, AEG Presents Asia Pacific, who in 2022 was appointed as Frontier Touring chairman.

After producing “an unprecedented number of stadium concerts in the last 12 to 15 months,” notes Brant, the view from here is “positive.” The roadmap for the next three-to-five years should see “a lot of good content coming through, a lot of great new artists coming through, a lot of early-stage stuff.”