‘People are spending billions of dollars in this space’: Iconic music company Mushroom Group launches talent management & partnership agency

Mushroom Group has launched a new, progressive talent management and partnership agency, Mushroom Connect, Mumbrella can reveal.

Founded by Mushroom Group CEO Matt Gudinski, and Mushroom Connect director Kirsty Kassabis, the formation of the legendary music and entertainment giant’s new arm solidified Mushroom’s expansion into representing influencer talent, alongside musicians, comedians, television personalities, and more.

As Kassabis explains to Mumbrella, Mushroom Connect provides specialist artist management services, influencer marketing, and artist representation for digital brand collaborations. The team’s portfolio includes partnerships with big-hitters like Disney, Google, Netflix, Maybelline, Kathmandu, Paramount, Amazon, McDonalds, Jetstar, and Swisse.

Connect manages a huge roster of world class talent, including creators, Luke and Sassy Scott, Inspired Unemployed’s Dom Littrich, comedian 100 Percent That Tim, food blogger Bites with Lily, as well as offering commercial partnerships with artist such as DMA’S, Vera Blue, and First Nations hip hop group 3%, alongside numerous other top-tier musical artists.


As director, Kassabis will run the company with a team that includes Gabriela Franchina (LADbible Group, YouTube) and Bella McDonald (The Brag Media), while Mushroom Group’s strategy and partnerships manager Ben Dennis will lead the artist and talent partnership division.

Mushroom Connect will also interlock with the group’s raft of specialist companies, Mushroom Creative House, Mushroom Events, Mushroom Management, Mushroom Studios, and MG Live.

Kassabis explains more about the aims and advantages of Mushroom Connect.

Kirsty Kassabis and Matt Gudinski. Picture: Liam Pethick

Mushroom Connect: it’s a talent management company, and it’s a partnership agency as well. Tell us more.

We’re really excited to launch Mushroom Connect, because we’re entering a new era of Mushroom Group, where we are managing talent that sits outside of straight music. We’ve been doing this for a couple of years now, with myself, managing more that digital-age talent. So it’s using the expertise that we already have in-house at Mushroom Group and just utilising them to propel the careers of influencer talent in the same way we’ve done with breaking artists.

So, we have a really exciting time to break the new age of talent. So that’s the talent management side of our business. And then, further to that, we are representing artists and big digital talent and also celebrity talent for commercial brand partnerships. We are procuring and executing brand partnerships for those talent as well.

And further to that, we’re also doing influencer-marketing campaigns for brands. So this is the new marketing tool that a lot of agencies are already implementing, and it’s something that we also have been doing in-house. The demand is there now to start doing influencer marketing campaigns for other brands outside of the Group.

And where does the music side of what Mushroom does fall into this? Will you be using like acts from your stable? Will you be pushing the publishing side or is that separate to this? Where does Mushroom Connect fits within the Mushroom family?

Yeah, so the way that Mushroom Connect kind of sits within the group is, we use a lot of the talent that we already have in-house at Mushroom Group. We are representing them in the artist and talent representation space. So, we’re helping to procure brand deals, which in this day and age is actually really important for a lot of artists because breaking an artist — as we know — is quite difficult in this era. So, we’re helping to facilitate new ways to propel artists into different spaces and different eyes. Working with us, we enable them to connect with big brands who have big audience and reach, and curate content for digital and billboard and TVCs to help put them into different spaces to help their careers, as well.

And so, I guess we kind of work very closely with a lot of artists in-house but we also work really closely with our creative house, Mushroom Creative House, who run the partnerships division of Mushroom Group. And we work with them from the influencer marketing perspective, and we also work with the events team as well to help curate some of like the lineups, and bring in some digital talent for hosting opportunities, and also bringing in brands to help run some of their events, in conjunction with our influencer marketing.

And what about brands themselves? Will you have a client stable of brands, or is it more that you have the talent and then you go to whatever brands make sense – or is it both?

In the talent management and talent representation space, we are always getting absolutely bombarded with brands wanting to work with our talent. As we represent some of the leading Australian talent for commercial partnerships, we just have so many connections now, because people really want to play in this space. Artists are obviously very cool, and brands want to play in that space.

So we have that connection to them. And then, also in the talent management space, influencers. Influencers and digital creators, their bread-and-butter is through the brand space.

So we are constantly working with brands, day-to-day, in curating brand deals and influencer marketing opportunities for them. And then, in terms of the influencer marketing part of our business, we will have brands that we work with continually to help execute influencer marketing plans for them for campaigns throughout the year.

Ben Dennis, Gabriela Franchina, Matt Gudinski, and Kirsty Kassabis. Picture: Liam Pethick

Where did the idea spring from? 

The company was created because the demand was so high for it. I was in a tour marketing space, you know, before COVID, and I mentioned the word ‘TikTok’ and I questioned a few people internally about, you know, ‘Why isn’t any of our artists on TikTok?’ And it was before COVID. So everyone was still questioning what the capabilities of TikTok were. And then obviously COVID hit and everyone was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Kirsty mentioned TikTok and it blew up during that time.’

I’ve literally stumbled on it. So through that, I started really playing in the TikTok space and I started to educate all our talent, internally, about how to use the app and the functionalities, and how to really try and break their music, and the brand opportunities as well on the platform. And then I started to manage my own influencer talent from there.

So that’s how it all began. So then, I guess what happened was, people were seeing these big branded opportunities I was getting for a lot of the influencer talent that I was managing. And so artists were coming to me asking, ‘we’d love to be able to get these opportunities for artists’, to help them propel their careers as well.

So, honestly, it was just people were knocking on our doors to create this, and I think that’s one of the biggest reasons why we’ve now fully fleshed this into the company it is today. And we’ve been working on this for a while now. So we’ve got the runs on the board.

It’s just formalising this, in market, and offering up our services far and wide, because I really believe in this new age of digital media and it’s not going anywhere. And I think people, at one stage, really thought the influencer economy was on its way out, and just not ‘cool’ anymore – but that has definitely been proven to be completely wrong, and it’s one of the fastest growing economies there is. People are spending billions of dollars in this space.

And I think, everyone, if you play in the world of social media, you are an influencer. You are a creator. So it’s not a dirty word. It’s an amazing word, and people are making significant careers off it. Brands are playing in this space now more than ever, and social marketing methods don’t work the way they once did.

So, people and brands need to play in this space. This is where the longevity is now.

For more information about Mushroom Connect, visit: mushroomconnect.com.au


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