Christopher Mark Murphy, Creative Director and Global Business Strategist of Petrol Electric, is a musical maverick, an innovator and a builder of a brand from concept. He has been called one of the top music managers in the world, but more than that, he is a man who has devoted his life to bringing hot grooves and sweet, sexy sounds to music lovers around the world.
Music & Entertainment: CM Murphy was born in Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia on the 9th November, 1954. In 1960, when he was 6 years old, his parents opened an entertainment-booking agency. His father would take him on the road where he quickly learnt the ropes and experienced the captivating world of entertainment.
Due to the early passing of his father, CM Murphy started to work at his parents’ agency, “Mark Murphy & Associates” with his mother at 17 years of age. During his time there, he arguably set standards for bands that still exist today in the Australian live scene.
At the age of 23, opening a rock division, “SOLO”, CM Murphy established one of Australia’s foremost agencies by taking on bands such as AC/DC and utilizing his entrepreneurial skills to instigate what was to become known as the ‘door deal’, the first of its kind in Australia. The door deal secured a percentage of the cover charge for the band, increasing average artists’ profit.
CM Murphy amalgamated SOLO with the then powerful Melbourne based company run by Michael Gudinski “PREMIER” and together the “Solo Premier Agency” went on to become the most powerful agency in Australia, with a roster of bands that included the Angels, Dragon, Skyhooks, Cold Chisel & Ol’ 55. CM Murphy then returned to the family business, and was appointed the agent for Midnight Oil, through whom he spotted the young support act INXS in 1979.
CM Murphy was so impressed with the young band, he decided to take on their management at a worldwide level, and escalated them to the heights of the international music industry.
Through Murphy’s management, the band went on to sell over 40 million albums, release 11 albums, 7 long form videos, receive hundreds of Gold and Platinum albums and singles, achieve Number one positions worldwide, at both single and album status, play thousands of shows from “Rocking The Royals” in front of Prince Charles and Princess Diana to headlining their own show at Wembley Stadium in front of 75,000 fans, win 5 coveted MTV American Awards, 2 Grammy nominations, 6 ARIA awards, a Brit Award for Best International Band as well as dozens of other awards in countries as diverse as Brazil and Monaco.
In 1982, CM Murphy’s first publishing company “MMA Music Publishing” built its catalogue to contain more than a quarter of a million titles between 1982 and 1992. CM Murphy’s foresight, led the company to open an Asian branch and become the first independent music publishing company in Asia. With offices also in Los Angeles, London, New York and Sydney, MMA Music had the ability to sign international catalogues and artists thereby making the company one of the leaders in the Publishing field. Titles included hit songs such as “Seven Wonders” by Stevie Nicks, several hits by Belinda Carlisle, “Cold As Ice” by Foreigner as well as some of the finest Australian song writers, including Jenny Morris, Andrew Farriss (INXS), and Michael Thomas (Weddings Parties Anything) who went on to win the award for Australian Song of the year. In 1997, CM Murphy sold MMA Music to the Multi- National Company, “Polygram Music Publishing International”.
In 1987, CM Murphy’s frustration with the Australian touring market catering to so many international tours, saw him put together the AUSTRALIAN MADE tour, consisting of 10 Australian Bands to show the public what they had to be proud of.
As recognition of his success and continuing work in developing Australian talent, CM Murphy was honoured in 1987 by Business Review Weekly as Australian Entrepreneur of the Year. That same year, he founded “rooArt Records” and continued to sign international class acts.
Renowned for his star spotting skills, CM Murphy, signed a number of up and coming Australian acts to his independent record label “rooArt” which went on to have phenomenal success. Signings Ratcat and You Am I, both achieved simultaneous Number 1 single and album positions on the ARIA charts. These performances along with acts including Wendy Matthews and The Screaming Jets transformed rooArt into the number one record label in Australia and the subject of the largest record industry joint venture ever accomplished in Australia. He concluded the deal with entertainment giant, “Time Warner Inc”, in 1992.
In 1995, CM Murphy envisaged a massive change in the industry, which we now know as the digital arena. So, after 15 years with INXS, it was time to graduate to a new phase – his own musical adventure: he resigned from his position as INXS’ worldwide manager, returned home to Australia and bought international high-end fashion magazine, “Australian Style”, and the then rundown radio station “2SM”.
With both marketing acumen and financial muscle, CM Murphy increased Australian Style’s circulation and encouraged big name advertisers to spend within the magazine. He also set about changing the look of the magazine and hence the covers were greatly improved and included personalities such as Helena Christensen.
CM Murphy’s purchase of the radio station, 2SM, was with the intent to enter into the Digital World, which was rumoured to launch in the year 2000. He had his eye on the potential of digital formats as the way music would be sold and promoted in the future. CM Murphy’s vision was to create a Digital Delivery System to be transmitted via the Internet, cable and satellite systems.
Through “MMA Communications”, he then set up “Digital One” in 1999 – Australia’s first digital music broadcasting company with backing from TV network Channel 7. This idea would deliver what traditional radio had promised for years- a radio station for everyone. The Digital One point of difference is that it offers a new and unique programming approach to its listeners by providing a continuous flow of music integrated with abstract and irreverent voice grabs giving both character and attitude to the stations. The company explored compilation CDs and created world history launching the first interactive audio service available via mobile phone. Digital One also scored an industry first when it negotiated the first Online Streaming Radio Agreement, administered by the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA) to facilitate digital transmission through its online audio entertainment network.
CM Murphy saw a new era approaching. Whilst further cementing his global reputation as a man with vision, passion and unrelenting tenacity, he created, developed and launched a brand globally with the mandate “Dedicated to bringing you Seriously Good Music” and that’s CM Murphy’s attitude too.
In 2001, “Petrol Electric” saw CM Murphy searching the world for the most exotic music and sounds – resulting in Petrol International creating the successful compilation series Greatest Songs Ever, Greatest Moments Ever and The Departure Lounge. These titles sold massive quantities worldwide and at last count over 500 Top 20 hits. Petrol set the benchmark, feeding demand for the emerging appetite in world music.
Time Warner LIFE signed a major distribution deal with CM Murphy in 2004. Subsequently, Petrol became one of the very first independent labels to sign a major deal with “Apple iTunes” Music Stores worldwide, which has enabled Petrol to enjoy unparalleled exposure for an independent label on the fastest growing global music medium. CM Murphy’s unbridled enthusiasm and belief in the world music genre led to the production of a documentary on the street music of Cuba, an adventure that was not without peril. The resultant DVD release, LIBERACION – The Songs of the New Cuban Underground garnered a Grammy nomination in 2008.
Going deeper into the digital revolution CM Murphy formed the “Murphy Media Academy”, publishing digital books, akin to the Penguin titles of early last century. The series 20 Minute History Lessons focuses on some of the world’s most interesting and charismatic figures and relevant subject matters, like‐wise the Not Lost in Translation series, accessing foreign language for youth culture zeitgeists. With these titles, the company achieved a staggering 7 out of the top 10 downloads on iTunes in the US, and earned CM Murphy, the 2009 NSW Premiers Export Award for Arts & Entertainment.
After 15 years apart, CM Murphy signed INXS to Petrol Electric, and set about re‐imagining some of the bands most outstanding songs with some of the world’s most outstanding vocalists. The project took nearly two years of intense creativity and negotiation resulting in the critically acclaimed, ORIGINAL SIN.
The album’s first single, Original Sin featuring Rob Thomas and DJ Yaleidys, officially topped the Billboard Dance Club Play chart in 2011, knocking Britney Spears off the top spot. This marked the band’s first ever number one Billboard dance single with the original version of Original Sin peaking at #17 on the chart in 1984. In Australia, the album hit number two twice on the iTunes albums chart. Ben Harper and Mylene Farmer’s version of Never Tear Us Apart debuted at number four on the French iTunes charts, and Mediate featuring Tricky [Massive Attack] jumped to number five on the U.S. Dance Charts.
Today, Petrol Electric provides a 360 degree service across all facets of entertainment including the creative and business strategies of the INXS brand – all products, album and audio visual releases, touring, merchandising, publishing, marketing, PR and social marketing strategies for the brand.
Petrol Electric’s success is based on the relationships and reputation that CM Murphy has established over the years with major entertainment companies such as Universal, Sony, CAA, Warner Chappell and Apples’ iTunes amongst others. With offices in Sydney, Perth, Los Angeles and Buenos Aires, Petrol Electric continues to have an aggressive approach towards research and product development, marketing and brand management.
CM Murphy is a visionary, deft at recognizing talent in others, expert in spotting gaps in markets and by following his hunches, it is inevitable that his endeavors will be at the forefront of emerging digital entertainment trends into the future.
Sports: CM Murphy always enjoyed and played many sports, from ice hockey to surf. At the age of 13, he represented his state “New South Wales” in the under 15 years. He is also, an accomplished water and snow skier.
At the age of 35, he took up Polocrosse and then he wrote a book on the subject “Australian Made Internationally Played”.
Later, he took up polo leading his team Bethungra Park to be the most successful new team at the Guards Polo Club in England in the early ninties.
CM also represented the Queen playing for a selected Guards polo team to tour South Africa. In 1993 Murphy was one of the few selected to take on the Queens home bred Polo hourses when Prince Charles retired.
Farming: CM Murphy was one of the first to see the future and not only invested heavily in digital broadcasting and music sales but also Organic Farming. In the 1980’s CM Murphy was the first to create large scale free range/organic chicken operations plus deliver high quality organic lamb – 365 days a year – to some of the best restaurants around the world right form his his farm at that time “Bethungra Park”.
Today, in 2013, Chris prides himself on the fact that Archerfield Farm is a sustainable farm. As an example, rather than transporting certified organic chicken feed all the way from Toowoomba and thereby creating a large carbon footprint, he has opted for locally produced natural feed. These are the sorts of decisions Chris makes to ensure that his farm employs the best possible practices in order to get the best possible outcome for the planet, the livestock and the consumer. Archerfield produces “Rock Chic Eggs”, “Taste It” herbs and vegetables, “Wild Rock” suckling lamb as well as “The Red Hen House” project. Chris loves his horses and has become one of the finest breeders of Polo Horses in Australia: Branded BP.
Family: CM is the proud father to five children: Stevey, Jery, Jack, Louis and Charlie, and he has three grandchildren.