// News

Mushroom Group launch Voice for Change!

Mushroom Marketing and the broader Mushroom Group have been working with  Victorian Government through Creative Victoria on a special new project – Voice for Change.

It is brand new community-focused project to inspire young people to follow their dreams and ambitions.

It’s about overcoming adversity and the power of music to change lives.
We’ve assembled an awesome collection of Australia’s top urban music, hip-hop and sporting personalities, including chart-topping rappers and sports stars from diverse and multicultural backgrounds, and we’ll be rolling out a series of inspirational videos that feature our Voice For Change advocates sharing their personal journeys and challenges including racism, feelings of disenfranchisement and social inclusion.

Voice For Change is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

2016 brings to a close our year of mentorship with talented Telstra Road winners Liv Cartledge and Merpire!

Across a year of song writing, travelling, recording and performance we’ve had the pleasure of sharing some big and exciting steps in their respective musical careers. We couldn’t be more proud of our association with them.

To keep up to date with their 2017 news, follow them here:

Liv Cartledge – www.facebook.com/livcartledgemusic
Merpire – www.facebook.com/merpiremusic

TRTD Winners Liv Cartledge & Merpire take on Nashville


Telstra Road winners Liv Cartledge and Merpire (Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt) have just finished up an incredibly exciting and big week in Nashville USA as part of their Telstra Road winners’ prize package.

The singer songwriters spent the week co-writing with Nashville artists including the legendary Kim Richie along with performing at Sounds Australia gigs including the well-known Bluebird Café. The girls capped off the week with a recording session with Nashville producer Neilson Hubbard (http://www.neilsonhubbard.com/) and his incredibly talented studio musicians – a highlight of their time in Nashville.

Liv continued on to Canada for a month of songwriting and recording, whilst Merpire followed her time in Nashville with a visit to New York where she performed at The Bitter End, who has had the likes of Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Norah Jones (to name a few) on their stage.

The girls return back to Australia for the summer with plans to release new music and tour.

Safe to say they’re returning with more motivation, experience and a lot of music to share with the world!


Liv_Press Pic

Liv Cartledge is a rare find. At just 19, Liv draws you in with her husky tones, soul-filled lyrics and warm melodies.
With each song telling a different story of people she’s met, places she’s been, thoughts and dreams she’s had, Liv’s songwriting will tug at your heart strings.
At the tender age of nine, Liv would grace the streets of Beechworth guitar-in-hand to serenade passersby for an often generous pretty penny which she would use to buy herself tools of the trade.
As a teen, Liv started playing pub gigs with her Dad Sean; learning from the best, her old man, as well as the many many hours Liv spent teaching herself to play, it wasn’t long until Liv had developed her own unique style and began to dip her toes in the ocean that is songwriting.
Influenced by the likes of Paul Kelly, Missy Higgins and Thelma Plum, Liv draws on encounters with strangers, love and loss from every aspect, memories and dreams.  After winning the Telstra Road to Discovery program in December 2015, Liv is now gearing up for a year of specialised industry mentorship, songwriting, recording and showcases in Nashville. Watch this space!


Merpire_Press Pic

Blending ethereal, psychedelic folk with melodic ukulele narratives, Sydney has given life to new-age artist on the rise, Merpire.
In 2012, Merpire released a self-titled 7 track EP, capturing attention with vulnerable and honest lyrics that listeners can relate to but find hard to reveal.
In 2014 Merpire released a second EP, Beneath Dark Waves. Her aesthetic combines the typical mood and sound of the ukulele, with warped effects that are unique to the Merpire sound. Like a siren at sea, the artist draws you in with her haunting melodies, honest heart-ache and fantastical stories.
After landing a sync on a show on SBS2, and a spin on Triple J, the song ‘Everyone Will Know’ from Beneath Dark Waves has been on rotation on Triple J Unearthed.
After winning the Telstra Road to Discovery program in December 2015, Merpire is now gearing up for a year of specialised industry mentorship, songwriting, recording and showcases  in Nashville. While she will be busy broadening her creative spectrum, it is safe to say we can expect to see and hear a deeper Merpire.



After countless hours of listening to incredible music, months of searching and a stint at Boot Camp, we’re absolutely wrapped to announce Liv Cartledge and Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt aka Merpire as the 2015 Telstra Road to Discovery winners and Will Anderson as the People’s Choice Award winner!

When asked how she felt her performance had changed since the Semi Final, Cartledge said, “I remember going onto the Semi Final stage and I couldn’t hold my guitar properly because I was shaking so much, but this afternoon, Ross James said to me – and I think it was an Andy Bull quote – “be the best version of yourself out there. Be Liv Cartledge”, I thought about it for a while and was like, right on.” Clearly it’s winning advice!

As part of the winning package, Liv and Merpire have both won a $15,000 music development grant and a return trip to next year’s Americana Festival in Nashville to perform their music to some of the biggest names in the international music scene.

“I kind of didn’t want to think about it [winning], in case it didn’t happen!” said Merpire. But now that is has happened, what comes next? “I think the first plan is to have a plan,” she replied laughing.

Find out more about our winners below:  

Liv Cartledge

I’m a 19-year-old gal; born and bred in a little town in northeast Victoria called Beechworth. Two years ago I packed my bags and made my way to Melbourne, after my first taste of city life I was hooked and have been an St Kilda resident ever since. 

I remember learning my first guitar chord sitting in my Gran and Pop’s lounge room, wedged between my dad and uncle. It was an E minor, and I’m pretty sure I played that chord for three days straight. 

I was always the three year old with a tambourine up on stage next to dad banging away to whatever he was playing (‘Dumb Things’ by Paul Kelly, most likely)… Writing, recording or performing alongside Paul Kelly is my ultimate dream. Anyone who knows me well will know that he is a big hero of mine. 


I’m a 27 year old Sydney girl, born and bred… Mum tells me that I sang before I could speak. Apparently I used to sing gibberish to other pre-schoolers at nap time from when I was about 2 years old and so I was eventually put in a separate nap time area so that the other kids could sleep. 

Boot Camp was honestly one of the best weeks of my life. It was so refreshing to be around such a large number of kind, giving people. I feel very lucky to have been given so much valuable information and advice. Everyone was genuinely there to help and it was almost unbelievable to have these people believe in me so much. I’ve come out of that week with more confidence, a smarter mind and a clearer idea for where I want to head and how to get there.

Congratulations again to Liv Cartledge, Merpire and Will Anderson!  

Meet The Telstra Road 2015 Finalists!

TRTD Finalists

Six aspiring songwriters are on the road to success, after being selected to perform at the Grand Final of Telstra Road to Discovery, the talent development program that connects Australian artists with influential figures in the music industry through music education and expertise.

The announcement was made at a competitive Semi Final event where 11 fiercely talented musicians from around Australia performed for the title at Melbourne’s Kindred Studios on Friday evening.

The Semi Final was judged by some of Australia’s leading music experts including alt-pop maestro and 2014 ARIA nominee, Andy Bull, Affinity Music Group and Manager of Styalz Feugo, Adam ‘Weez’ Booth and Mushroom Music’s Creative Manager, Bill Page.

The artists chosen to compete at the Grand Final include:

  1. Will Anderson, 18, Mackay QLD (alternative folk, acoustic guitar), Will creates an earthy and unique sound like no other by combining the sounds of his guitar and didgeridoo.
  2. Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt, (Merpire) 27, Redfern NSW, (folk, pop, ukulele), Rhiannon grew up around her parent’s music, and they say she was singing before she could even speak.
  3. Ciaram Granger, 28, Glenelg (folk, blues, country), the first song Ciaram ever learnt on guitar was Streets of London by Ralph McTell and he still plays this song in most of his sets.
  4. Ryan Nebauer, (Neighbour) 24, Greenslopes QLD, (folk, pop, acoustic guitar and keyboard), Ryan has been playing guitar and piano for half of his life and has even had his music featured on many international television shows, including National Geographic and The Disney Channel.
  5. Sydnee Carter, 17, Wanneroo, WA, (pop, folk, acoustic guitar), Sydnee was previously on X Factor and made such an impress that Ashton Kutcher post her audition video on his Twitter.
  6. Liv Cartledge, 18, St Kilda, VIC (pop, rock, acoustic guitar) wild card, Liv has recently released a new single which was premiered on Channel Ten’s Neighbours.

These hopefuls are in the running to win one of two $15,000 music development funds plus a trip to the United States and ongoing opportunities for further development through local gigs and music education. The program is committed to the development of these aspiring songwriters which has provided a launch pad for up and coming Australians who are now some of the nation’s finest musical acts including Jessica Mauboy (2003), Harry Hookey (2012) and Melody Pool (2013).

The Grand Final will be held in November. For more information and to follow their journey, visit telstra.com/trtd.

Telstra Road Announces 11 Semi Finalists Who Will Progress to Boot Camp!

TRTD Semi FinalistsEleven aspiring songwriters are one step closer to launching their music careers, having been selected to perform at the Semi Final of Telstra Road to Discovery, one of Australia’s most prominent grassroots music development programs.

For over a decade, Telstra Road has been committed to the development of aspiring singer songwriters and has provided a launch pad for up and coming Australians who are now some of Australia’s finest musical acts including, Jessica Mauboy (2003), Harry Hookey (2012) and Melody Pool (2013).

From NSW to WA, VIC to QLD, the Telstra Road to Discovery program has uncovered a diverse range of musicians across a variety of genres including alternative folk, pop, electronic, rock, Americana and country.

Telstra General Manager Loyalty & Sponsorship, Fady Taouk, congratulated all musicians on making it to the Semi Final.

“This year we went completely digital bringing the entry process online as well as enticing new genres of musicians to the program. We’ve been extremely impressed by the amount of talent that entered this year’s Telstra Road program,” Mr. Taouk said.

The artists chosen to compete at the Semi Final include:

  1. Will Anderson, 18, Mackay QLD (alternative folk, acoustic guitar)
  2. Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt, (Merpire) 27, Redfern NSW, (folk, pop, ukulele)
  3. Georgia Hahn, (Georgia Mae) 21, Red Hill QLD, (electronic, pop)
  4. Ciaram Granger, 28, Glenelg (folk, blues, country)
  5. Ryan Nebauer, (Neighbour) 24, Greenslopes QLD, (folk, pop, acoustic guitar and keyboard)
  6. Lucy Peach, 35, North Fremantle, (alternative folk, country, baritone ukulele)
  7. Lucy Messara (Lucy Lowe) 21, Mosman NSW, (folk, acoustic guitar)
  8. Tom West, 28, Hazelwood Park, SA, (alternative folk, acoustic guitar)
  9. Sydnee Carter, 17, Wanneroo, WA, (pop, folk, acoustic guitar)
  10. Sunny Hawkings, 36, Deepdene, VIC, (folk, rock acoustic guitar)
  11. Liv Cartledge, 18, St Kilda, VIC (pop, rock, acoustic guitar) wild card

The 11 hopefuls will now progress to a three day mentoring Boot Camp hosted by well-respected artists, producers and managers, where they will help the artists develop their understanding of the inner workings of the Australian Music Industry.

The Semi Final will see 6 of the artists go through to the Grand Final to be held in November. The Grand Final will reward two winners with a $15,000 music development fund and a trip to the United States. The prize also includes ongoing opportunities for further development including local gigs and education to help kick-start their music career.

For more information and to follow the journey of these talented artists through to the Semi Final, visit telstra.com/trtd.



In case you missed it, Aussie hip-hop royalty Bliss N Eso joined Telstra Road to Discovery last week for an unforgettable live-streamed Master Class. It was two and a half hours of insights, ideas and ideologies from the trio as they reflected on their history together and shared their plans for the future. We take a look back at some of the key tips Jonathon Notley (MC Bliss), Max McKinnon (MC Eso) and Tarik Ejjamai (DJ Izm) had to share.


Despite CDs still being the medium of choice when the trio started out, they were keenly aware of the power that free music holds. “It was like a sweatshop,” says Ejjamai. “I’d have a computer at mine… Jonny would have another couple of computers at his house, all simultaneously burning our CD.”

“And we’d give it out free to as many places as we could; it was a hustle,” continues Notley. “Every live show that we would do, we would have a stack. And we would open up for these international acts, and no one knew who we were but we knew that if we could get just a little bit of engagement and then be like, ‘who wants a free CD?’ Everyone would be like, ‘hell yeah!’ And that was a way of spreading the music early on.”


Aside from being a musician’s bread and butter these days, a live show is paramount to growth and career longevity. Notley says, “From early on we took playing shows really serious, and I guess that’s how we really founded our following. Every opportunity we got we just jumped at it.”

“We would go and rehearse for weeks” says McKinnon, “for a tiny little slot that was 15 minutes when the doors had just opened and there’s literally like 10 people walking in while you’re playing. But we realised that every gig was a stepping stone to the next one, so we took it really seriously and eventually started to make headway. And we were there on time to sound check every day; we were professional,” explains McKinnon. And as Max wisely points out, there’s never going to be a substitute for the real thing. “You can’t download a live show,” so making that evening out of the house a memorable one that sees punters returning next time you’re in town is all important.


“There’s always different ways to engage with your fan base, and it’s always good to push the envelope,” says Notley. “Whether it’s a competition to see, ‘hey where should we go on our tour’ or what song should we play for our setlist, or even creating an iPhone app or an Android app that our fans can speak to us directly on.

“One of the most awesome things about sites like Facebook is Insights,” Notley continues. (Which shows users key information about those engaging with social media content). “You can see exactly your demographic; how many guys and how many girls, their ages, what country are they from and you can see where your strengths lie, and tailor a tour exactly to that.


“Nothing happens without the music,” says Notley. “The music is the first point for everything. When we go back into the studio we just zone everything out; it’s why we get out of the city. We get out of our day to day and things that constantly distract us; it’s just the three of us and a producer in the house.

And on those days where the frustration is at its peak and you feel like throwing in the towel? Well, McKinnon simply says the secret is that “as soon as you think you’re getting writers block, squash it, kill it, and imagine a white canvas where everything is up for grabs. Then you’re not trapped in that little box anymore…Just stay on it and know that writers block is such a mental thing.”


“It was tough, we definitely had our fair share of ridicule” says Notley. “And there were shows where we had maybe four people in the front row” continues McKinnon, “but that was still awesome for us.”

“Hell yes it was hard,” says Ejjamai, “but in a good way. The harder the journey the better.”


Watch the full Bliss N Eso Master Class here, and read our touring interview with Jonathan here.

Bliss n Eso to Deliver Telstra Road to Discovery Live Masterclass

Telstra-TheatreMulti-Platinum, ARIA Award-winning Sydney hip-hop group Bliss N Eso announce they will team up with Australia’s leading grassroots talent development program, Telstra Road to Discovery, to deliver a first-of-its-kind, interactive education master class where music lovers from around the globe can participate via a live stream.  Now in its 13th year, and embracing a broad range of music genres, Telstra Road to Discovery is renowned for supporting emerging independent artists through music discovery, education and expertise.

Co-hosted by Ella Hooper, the event will take place in the recently-built, state-of-the-art Customer Insight Centre Telstra Theatre in the heart of Sydney’s CBD at 5pm on Friday 25 September. For the first time in the program’s history, the Telstra Road to Discovery ‘Live Master Class with Bliss N Eso’, will allow fans from all over the world, to simultaneously participate and engage alongside the audience via new live streaming and interactive capabilities.

Known for their innovative campaigns that have successfully combined traditional media and cutting edge technology across digital platforms, Bliss N Eso will take the audience on an educational journey of their career and the processes involved which have helped to establish one of the biggest and most active fan bases in Australia.   The band will demonstrate music creation and performance, through to writing, recording and touring.  The theatre and online participants will be given the opportunity to engage with the three band members throughout the session via social media as well as a dedicated Q&A session.

Jonathon Notley (MC Bliss) said the Telstra technology will allow them to interact with fans in a way they’ve never done before.  The recently-developed Customer Insight Centre Telstra Theatre includes a floor to ceiling compelling 8 metre-wide LED wall, a custom designed 80 audio speaker system, 21 active acoustic microphones, intelligent lighting and HD cameras.

“As a band we have always been strong advocates of technology, content and music education, and this really brings all those elements together to empower aspiring musicians with the tools they need to drive their music careers forward. Making it big in the music scene is never easy, but we hope that with this collaboration with Telstra Road to Discovery, we are able to inspire more artists and songwriters to further develop their craft.”

For an idea of what to expect, check out this video: https://youtu.be/3SqBSx7Q5Zk

 Tune in to the free live stream on Friday 25 September from 4.50pm – 8.15pm AEST by visiting facebook.com/blissneso.