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Bruce Butler

Record Companyarian Music Television - Talent Coordinator Music Manager Music Retailer Music Educator Nightclub Owner

MUSIC INDUSTRY BACKGROUND / ROLES: Record Companyarian, Music Media - Television, Music Management, Industrapedia Music Council member, Music Venue Owner.

Bruce Butler is a forty plus years veteran of the Australian Music Industry. He is currently semi-retired working a couple of days a week teaching music business management at Collarts and RMIT. He is also providing consultation to selected artists, producers and independent record companies.

Bruce is also currently involved as an administrator for Ye Olde Record Companyarians and it’s affiliated offshoots, including Music Industrapedia, where he is a member of the Industrapedia Music Council working closely with Ye Olde Networks and Industrapedia founder Simon Rashleigh.

Bruce Butler has been involved with many professional aspects of the Australian Music Industry. Amongst his talents and activities he has been a record company promotions manager, a music television talent coordinator on 'The Factory' and 'Countdown Revolution' and a music manager for Australian bands such as The Church, 'Ollie Olsen's Third Eye', Monique Brumby and a number of other music acts.


Back in the mid 1970’s, while still at school, Bruce worked part-time for Gaslight Records’ Port Phillip Arcade and Bourke Street stores in Melbourne. These stores sold only imported records by popular and specialist artists who often were not represented in this country. After leaving school Bruce managed a new Gaslight store for owners Zev Izzak and Michael Coppel (CEO of Live Nation Australia) in Glenferrie Road Malvern.

As the ‘80’s dawned Bruce returned to Australia after a time checking out the exciting new music scene in London to start on a career in the local music scene. He set up an artist management company and put on gigs for local Melbourne bands in non traditional venues. At this time he was also running a street poster and handbill distribution company. However, in early 1981, he came to the attention of the heads of CBS Records who offered him a job as Victorian Promotions Rep and by 1982 he had moved to Sydney as Promotions Manager for the Epic and Virgin labels.

After three years with CBS, Bruce was offered a chance by Virgin Label Manager Moira Bennet to work with her establishing Virgin Australia as a new independent label. From humble beginnings in Moira’s apartment we set up a Sydney office, began employing staff and as A&R Manager Bruce started looking to sign local artists. The first of which was Do.Re.Mi who had a national Top 5 hit with their debut single. At this time Bruce was also handling National Promotions including all media and local and international touring artists. In 1984 Bruce also returned to Melbourne for a time to establish a second Virgin Records office before heading back to Sydney.

Bruce left Virgin after a number of management changes from Virgin’s English head office. Although asked to stay on, the reality of working for the big corporations became unpleasant and counter to his desire to actually help artists. He took an extended break to travel the world before returning home where he helped set up the first Brashs retail store in Sydney as 2IC. During his time at Brashs, Bruce was also working on plans to set up a new specialist dance music retail store and record company in Melbourne at the request of long time friend Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum.

Re-locating back to Melbourne, Bruce took a job managing a Jetts record store in the city while awaiting the go-ahead for Molly’s project. During this extended delay Bruce was asked to ‘audition’ for a researcher’s position at the ABC for a new music and youth affairs program called ‘The Factory’.

The Factory was a three hour show recorded live on Saturday mornings containing live bands, video clips and stories and segments of interest to a teen audience. Bruce was given the job of researcher and over the next two years also wrote the host links, interview questions and various segments. He also selected all the video clips and live acts that appeared on the show. Each week he would have a touring international guest, an established local band and an unsigned act. When The Factory came to an end it was replaced by a five night a week music based show called Countdown Revolution. Bruce stayed on primarily as Talent Co-ordinator but was also programming the music content and writing segments.

During the final season of Countdown Revolution, Bruce was made an inaugural board member of The Push, a government funded organization which helps school age kids put on their own under- age clubs, dances and live gigs. It also provided assistance to young people wanting to pursue a career as musicians or behind the scenes in the Australian music industry. Bruce was a guest speaker at many seminars for young people around Victoria as well as in high school and tertiary classes. The Push commissioned Bruce to write a book to help school leavers find their way when entering the local industry as professional musicians.

‘The Young Players Guide’ contained easy to understand information on getting gigs, recording demos, dealing with record companies, managers and publishers. Along with general information about finance, promotion and marketing. It was a huge success and went through three reprints and updates over the next ten years.

In 1991 Countdown Revolution came to an end and Bruce set up the VALIS Management company and became personal manager for Ollie Olsen and Gus Till who had just recorded the Max Q album with INXS singer Michael Hutchence. The pair formed Third Eye and signed to Regular Records to record their debut album. Bruce was also managing Crystal Set fronted by Russel Kilbey and Eden whose percussionist Pieter Bourke went on to record soundtracks including Grammy winner ‘The Insider’.

When Third Eye presented their second album to Regular they refused to release it as it was an instrumental ‘techno’ album rather than an album of songs. Bruce and Ollie Olsen then formed the Psy-Harmonics label primarily just to release Third Eye but then started to sign and release a number of other electronic artists from around Australia. Psy-Harmonics was Australia’s first all electronic, trance / techno label and is still going today, under the management of Andrew Till, having released dozens of original albums all over the world.

Psy-Harmonics also had it’s own nightclub, Psychic Harmony, which featured DJs and live electronic artists along with banks of computers, set up and run by 'The Professor' (AKA Julian Assange) giving patrons access to the then very new internet, brain machines and other Cyber technologies. Psy-Harmonics was also involved with promoting early Raves and other dance culture events.

With the success of Psy-Harmonics Bruce was approached by Steve Kilbey whose group The Church had just left their record company and were looking for a new way to release the groups albums.

As Crystal Set and Eden had broken up and Third Eye had become a recording name for Ollie Olsen, Bruce formed a new management company BB Management to look after Ollie, award winning producer Simon Polinski, who helped found Psy-Harmonics, and now The Church.

For The Church Bruce set up an Australian distribution deal with MDS and together they found a distributor in North America who put up the money to record a new album. The deal meant that the band would not have to borrow money to record as the recording money would be repaid in stock for distribution by the American company. This also meant the band would own their recording for the first time. Bruce was also asked by Steve Kilbey to establish a label for Steve to release his solo material, other artists and his collaboration with The Go Betweens frontman Grant McLennan called Jack Frost. The label was Karmic Hit.

During this time Bruce was approached by young Tasmanian singer / songwriter Monique Brumby who had just moved to Melbourne and been offered both a management deal and a limited recording deal by Sony. Monique wanted advice on the deals and eventually Bruce took on Monique’s management and secured a major album deal with Sony. Her debut album produced a hit single and won Monique two ARIA awards.

Monique’s album was produced by David Bridie who also approached Bruce for management. Bruce negotiated a solo deal for David with EMI and the album ‘Act of Free Choice’ was recorded. It was the first Australian album to be mixed in 5.1 surround sound and was accompanied by short films for each of its tracks. The live shows were also presented in surround sound.

Bruce also managed David Bridie’s band My Friend The Chocolate Cake. Once again he arranged to release an album not controlled by a label and this time no distributor. It was one of the first albums to be available exclusively from the bands website or at their live shows.

In 2000, Arts Victoria asked Bruce to be part of a mentoring program where artists from all fields who applied to Arts Victoria with an original concept were teamed with a mentor for twelve months to complete their project. Bruce helped a young artist register a business, record his debut album, compile an album of tracks by other like minded artists and create a label to release both albums. By years end the albums were released at launch parties in Melbourne and interstate.

In 2001 Bruce was asked by The Push and funded by Arts Victoria to write a completely new version of ‘The Young Players Guide’ to bring it into the 21st Century. This time Bruce had two local music journalists to assist with the research and writing.

After the book was launched Bruce decided to wind down BB Management and concentrate on family matters. He went back to retail for a while in the department of a JB Hifi store and then concentrated on selective projects and consultation work while being a stay-at-home dad.

Then, in 2013 Bruce designed and presented a “Music Business” course at NMIT (now Melbourne Polytechnic) for their 'Bachelor of Music' and in 2015 Bruce returned to study at RMIT to complete a Master of Art (Arts Management) degree.

During his time studying, Bruce was asked by ACMI to contribute to the V&A David Bowie Is exhibition. He contributed some of his own collection for display in the exhibit along with giving guest talks and hosting special nights and private functions.

After graduating in 2016 Bruce started teaching ‘Music Business Management' at the Australian College of the Arts (Collarts) and at RMIT.

In 2017 Bruce was asked by the Australian Music Vault at The Arts Centre Melbourne to conduct a series of ‘Life-time Legacy’ interviews with prominent contributors to the Australian Music industry. In 2023 the interview Bruce conducted with Mushroom Records founder Michael Gudinski was the key component that formed the foundation of the movie ‘EGO: The Michael Gudinski Story’. This interview was the last full interview given by Gudinski and provided over 5 hours of filmed material in his own words.

In 2024, Bruce formed a business partnership with Melbourne DJ Eleni Tzaros and opened the Odeon Richmond Nightclub in Swan Street Richmond (Melbourne). Although the Odeon Richmond is predominantly an alternative music venue it does although cater for high quality Greek live music as well as being a live music venue for alternative music acts and alternative dance music.


Parent Category Page Links: Music Industry People - Australia

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