ARIA to rename Breakthrough Artist Award in honour of Michael Gudinski

The music entrepreneur passed away earlier this month

The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) will rename its annual Best Breakthrough Artist award in honour of the late music entrepreneur, Michael Gudinski.

Gudinski, the founder of Mushroom Group, passed away suddenly on March 2 at age 68. His death left the local and international music communities in mourning, with Ed Sheeran, Bruce Springsteen and more paying tribute.

“On recommendation of the ARIA chairman and fully endorsed by the ARIA board, we are very pleased to rename one of the most coveted ARIA awards in Michael Gudinski’s honour,” ARIA’s CEO, Annabelle Herd, said in a statement.


“The inaugural Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist ARIA Award will be presented for the first time at this year’s 2021 ARIA Awards.”

ARIA’s chairman, Denis Handlin AO, added that Gudinski’s passion for nurturing up-and-coming artists motivated the organisation to rename the award.

Over a career spanning five decades, Gudinski was responsible for helping launch the careers of such artists as Kylie Minogue, Split Enz, Yothu Yindi, Skyhooks, Paul Kelly, The Teskey Brothers and Vance Joy.

“In the past few weeks, we have seen an outpouring of love, respect and admiration from so many around the world for the late Michael Gudinski who was a pioneer and true legend that changed the face of the Australian music industry,” Handlin said.

“It is unequivocal that Michael’s passion was breaking Australian artists and putting them on a world stage and he had a proud history of success in doing so.

“Following personally discussing this with Michael’s family, this is the most appropriate honour for ARIA to bestow as it recognises Michael’s profound impact on Australian artists, and the memories and legacy he created.”


Michael Gudinski will be farewelled at a state memorial service at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena today (March 24).

Premier Daniel Andrews announced plans to hold a state funeral for Gudinski shortly after his death, saying that “to know [Gudinski] was to be changed”.

“He left a mark on everyone he met,” Andrews said earlier this month.