‘We’re building a music ecosystem’: What Vinyl Group’s Brag Media acquisition is all about

In this trade media exclusive, Vinyl Group's CEO, Josh Simons, sat down with Mumbrella's Lauren McNamara to delve into the ASX-listed company's decisions behind acquiring Australian youth publisher, The Brag Media.

In December, Vinyl Group (ASX: VNL) entered into an agreement to fully acquire The Brag Media and its network of mastheads of events – including Rolling Stone and Variety ANZ, for which it holds the ANZ licenses for.

Yesterday, the deal was completed.

Vinyl Group paid $8 million in cash to acquire the publisher, by way of investment from WiseTech Global’s CEO and founder, Richard White, with a further $2 million payable in cash or stock based on financial performance.

So, The Brag Media now joins music credits business Jaxsta, music industry social-professional network and talent marketplace Vampr, and online record store Vinyl.com, in Vinyl Group’s portfolio of properties.

Vinyl Group’s property portfolio

“Vinyl Group has a very clear mission statement: That we exist to power and empower all facets of the music ecosystem,” Simons tells Mumbrella.

“And of course, a big part of that is the fans and how they connect with artists, and that’s often through the media.

“Our three existing properties were missing that way to reach fans, so having a media piece like The Brag started to make a lot more sense the further we looked at the synergies, and the further we looked at the Vinyl business. The Brag will help us build that music ecosystem even greater,” he says.

Last month, the umbrella brand also officially changed from Jaxsta to Vinyl, signifying a huge transformation moving forward.

Simons says: “What you’re witnessing in real time is the evolution from a single branding company in Jaxsta, to a music portfolio company.

“The intent of that is to be the heartbeat of an equitable music world.

“But what that really means is servicing and empowering all participants in that world – and as I mentioned, The Brag Media will help us service the connection between fans and artists.”

As part of the deal, The Brag Media’s CEO, Luke Girgis, has entered into a full time employment agreement as publisher and managing director of the company.

Looking forward, Simons says the short-term goals are to empower Girgis and the wider Brag team and help them continue on the path they’re already travelling.


“It’s quite clear that Luke and the team were incentivised to continue on that path, so I feel my job over the next 12 months is to give them every chance of actually hitting those goals,” he explains.

“Their success will be the group’s success, so my job is to absolutely empower them. If they hit the upper side of their goals, I can see the company approaching profitability very quickly.”

Over the last six weeks, The Brag Media has announced new hires for its commercial team and its win of the exclusive commercialisation rights for Byron Bay music festival, Bluesfest.

Simons argues that “the fact that those announcements were made in the period when we were between announcing the deal and completing it, shows our commitment to letting the Brag team get on with what they were already doing, and not stand in the way of that progress”.

Long-term, he assures there will be no impact to The Brag Media team, and the plans will simply be to expand.

“There’s been talk of expanding perhaps in other territories, but there’s nothing formal to say on that at the moment, we’re just exploring and seeing what our options are long-term,” he tells Mumbrella.

“Our Vampr business is based out of the US, while obviously The Brag is Aussie, so we’re looking at ways to help those teams really complement each other, and I’d say that’s one of our main goals for the next 12-24 months.”

The company describes itself as the “heartbeat” of music

While The Brag Media held the Australia and New Zealand licenses to publish Penske Media Corporation’s (PMC) titles Rolling Stone and Variety ANZ, Simons says Vinyl Group secured the change of control notice as part of the deal completion.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the PMC team and bring them closer and closer,” he says.

“They’re very much on board with the transaction and look forward to working with us too. Without a doubt we want to continue that relationship and keep those licenses for the forseeable future.”


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