Presentation plaque, to Festival Records, glass / plastic / metal / wood / paper, made by A & M Records, United States of America, used by Festival Records, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1989
This award has significance as an illustration of Festival Records' success in generating sales of locally manufactured recordings of overseas artists whose labels it represented in Australia. When Fred Marks took charge of Festival Records in 1960, he realised that the company's future lay not just with local talent but in obtaining the rights to release more overseas recordings. By the mid 1960s Festival had obtained the rights for material from dozens of American independent labels including market leaders Atlantic, A&M, Liberty and United Artists. Festival continued to represent many overseas labels for the next 25 years. These labels contracted and recorded the artists while Festival manufactured the records and handled their distribution, promotion and marketing in Australia. International artists were the backbone of Festival's sales.
In 1962 the Sydney radio disc jockey Bob Rogers obtained an obscure American instrumental record from an airline pilot and played it to Festival's Fred Marks. The tune was 'The Lonely Bull' by Herb Alpert and His Tijuana Brass. Marks struck a deal immediately with Jerry Moss, the co-owner (along with Alpert) of the fledgling American company A&M Records, paying a mere $500 advance. Marks later said this was the best value for money that Festival Records ever had. Festival's association with A&M provided the company with a stream of highly bankable artists, including Burt Bacharach, the Carpenters, Joe Cocker, Peter Frampton, Supertramp, Joan Armatrading, the Police, Sting and Iggy Pop.
This plaque marks the end of the association between Festival Records and A&M Records in 1989 when PolyGram purchased A&M in the USA. The right to manufacture and distribute A&M recordings in Australia reverted to PolyGram Australia.
As an Australian record company, Festival Records was for over 50 years a significant force in the music recording industry. It financed, recorded, manufactured, promoted, marketed, distributed and published a huge range of local and overseas music, from classical to popular, under an equally vast number of labels. Although a major record company, it was independent of the five multinational companies that dominated the industry worldwide.
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.