Music award, gold record, 'Stylin Up' by Christine Anu, paper / metal / acrylic / rubber, made by Mushroom Records / Vice, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, used by Festival Records, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1995
This is not a conventional gold record award but a one-off, specially designed award that was presented to Festival Records by Mushroom Records. It has significance as an illustration of Festival Records' success in generating sales of Australian artists who recorded for locally-owned independent labels and as evidence of how Indigenous performers created some of the most exciting music of the 1990s.
A talented singer, dancer and actor from north Queensland, Christine Anu signed to Mushroom Records. Her first album 'Stylin' Up' in 1995 appeared on Mushroom's White label. It went platinum and yielded two hit singles. In 1996 she won an ARIA award for best female artist and, for the second year in a row, best Indigenous release.
When Michael Gudinski and Ray Evans established Mushroom Records in Melbourne in 1972 they needed to team up with a record manufacturer. They approached Festival Records because it had the best distribution network in the country. The two companies formed a fruitful relationship and for the next 25 years Mushroom's records were made and distributed by Festival. Gudinski discovered and recorded the artists, Festival handled manufacturing and distribution and the two worked together on promotion and marketing. Together Mushroom and Festival released most major Australian acts throughout the 1970s. With the cream of Australia's recording artists, Mushroom became Festival's de facto A&R department. Over three decades Mushroom Records remained a major force and Michael Gudinski became Australia's top music entrepreneur. In 1993 Gudinski sold half of Mushroom Records to News Ltd, the owner of Festival Records. In 1998 News Ltd acquired the remaining half of Mushroom Records, and the merged entity became known as Festival Mushroom Records.
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 own 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.
Presented by Mushroom Records to Festival Records to celebrate the 'Stylin Up' album attaining gold record status. This award was displayed in the Museum's exhibition 'Spinning Around: 50 Years of Festival Records', from 2001 to 2003.