Music award, gold record, 'Espresso Bongo' by Mental As Anything, laminated board / metal / paper, made and used by Festival Records, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1980
This award has significance as an illustration of the Festival Records success in generating sales of Australian artists who recorded for locally-owned independent labels. Usually these independent labels contracted and recorded the artists while Festival manufactured the records and handled their distribution, promotion and marketing.
Regular Records was an independent label formed in September 1978 by Cameron Allan and Martin Fabinyi. They signed a manufacturing and distribution deal with Festival Records in 1979. Regular's first signing and most enduring success was Sydney's Mental As Anything. The band began playing on a pool table at the Unicorn Hotel in Paddington and have gone on to release fifteen Top 40 singles. The Mentals' art-school origins, offbeat lyrics and daggy stage antics have provided a witty alternative to conventional rock-star posturing. With four songwriters and singers in the band, the Mentals were never short of great original material. Regular went on to sign up Icehouse, the Riptides, I'm Talking, the Reels, the Johnnys, Electric Pandas, Austen Tayshus, the Cockroaches, Kate Ceberano, Club Hoy and others.
Festival Records manufactured vinyl discs in Sydney for 40 years. At the height of production in the 1980s Festival's factory was buzzing with 26 record presses pumping out 25,000 records per day. In addition there was a cassette duplicating plant, an art department, a printing department for album covers, plus a huge warehouse for packing and distribution.
Festival Records provided a home to a vast array of musical styles and many independent labels, not readily identified with the Festival brand. For over fifty years its existence as a major independent record company, competing with the multinationals, helped to create a healthy environment for Australian music.
The first gold record awards were presented by American record companies to their artists to acknowledge sales of 1,000,000 records. Various measurements have been used at different times around the world for album and single awards. Some were based on the value of retail sales and others on units sold. The Recording Industry Association of America established a standard for an official gold record in 1958. This was based on wholesale shipments to retail outlets, rather than actual retail sales. Australia follows a similar system. In Australia ARIA awards gold records for 35 000 sales and platinum records for 70 000 sales.
The award was made by Festival Records at their factory in Miller St, Pyrmont, New South Wales, Australia in 1980.
When Festival Records prepared gold and platinum awards to present to its recording artists, the company sometimes made duplicates to display in the board room and the reception area of its premises. This award was also displayed in the Museum's exhibition 'Spinning Around: 50 Years of Festival Records', from 2001 to 2003.