Morgan Donoghue - A Life, inMusic

by Music Tech Fest | MTF Podcast

Morgan Donoghue is the Managing Director of inMusic, which owns brands like Denon, AKAI, Alesis, M-Audio, Marantz, Numark, Rane and more. He was CCO at Serato for 5 years, and before that, he was instrumental in helping launch digital music services - cutting the deals with the labels that made the way we experience music today possible.

Morgan tells the full story for the first time of how he managed to secure a deal for DRM-free downloads and music subscription from the world’s biggest major record label in a bet, how he took one of the smaller global markets and turned it into the biggest consumer of online music in the world - and why, when headhunted to move from music consumption to music production, he was told to name his price. And how he did all of this from a small island nation at the bottom of the world.

Fair warning: there is some strong language in this episode and perhaps some unfamiliar terms:

DoC is the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

The Rainbow Warrior was a Greenpeace protest ship that was bombed in Auckland Harbour by French agents in retaliation for their protests against French nuclear testing in the Pacific. This was the first ever act of international state-sponsored terrorism in New Zealand.

Dave Dobbyn, Goodshirt, Goldenhorse, Tiki Taane, Scribe, P-Money, The Black Seeds and Peter Urlich are New Zealand recording artists and entertainers.

Jacinda Ardern, Helen Clark, David Lange and Marilyn Waring are prominent New Zealand politicians and political thinkers. The first three are NZ Prime Ministers.

Music: reCreation by airtone (c) copyright 2019
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

AI Transcription

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

vodafone, new zealand, serato, people, called, music, spotify, company, years, auckland, emi, head, launched, week, world, deals, job, record labels, dad, record

SPEAKERS

Andrew Dubber, Morgan Donoghue

 

Andrew Dubber 

Hi, I’m Dubber. I’m the director of Music Tech Fest. And this is the MTF podcast. Now I know you probably can’t tell because I don’t have an accent of any kind. But I’m originally from New Zealand. I was born there. And I lived there for a good 37 years before heading over to the other side of the world, and seeing if there was anything interesting going on. And so if you know anything at all about New Zealand, it’s this. It’s kind of small, it’s far away. It has hobbits and dragons. And it’s where Mother Nature keeps her head office and scenery department. What you might not know about New Zealand is that it was the first country in the world to give women the vote. It’s the only country in the world where anyone who wants to start their own private radio station can pretty much just buy a small transmitter and turn it on. It has no native land mammals, though humans are outnumbered by sheep nine to one. And it’s arguably the real capital of music tech. And if it’s not, well, Morgan Donoghue is working on that. Morgan’s the managing director of in music. And if you haven’t heard of music, maybe you’ve heard of some of its brands Denon, AKAI, Alesis, M-Audio, Marantz, Numark, Raine, and about a dozen others. You’ve also heard of Serato, where he was the CTO for five years, and maybe also melodics and newer headphones, where he’s an investor www.splice.com, where he’s an advisor, Vodafone, where he was Global Head of music, EMI Music, where he was a label manager for both EMI and virgin. And he’ll tell the story, but he’s had what you might call a career in music and tech. And because New Zealand being what it is small, and so forth. He’s someone I’ve encountered on quite a number of occasions. It just took about 20 years or so, for us to sit down on a room together and have a proper chat from a music studio not too far from the Auckland City Centre, but far enough away to get a parking space. Here’s my conversation with Morgan Donoghue. Enjoy. Welcome, thanks so much for joining us for the podcast.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

Thank you, Andrew, for having me.

 

Andrew Dubber 

Yeah, I’m trying to figure out where to start with you. Because we’ve crossed paths, hundreds of times over the course of both careers. Let’s go back because I was working in radio in the late 90s. And you were running around repping record labels to start there. I mean, obviously you did stuff before that, but tell me what you were doing when we sort of first crossed paths.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

So I think it was the late 90s probably right. And so I when I was 20 when I Saturday, EMI started and promotions and then my two bosses both got pregnant pretty much simultaneously and so they and then they never came back from the maternity leave. So I ended up getting a promotion for a little while and then a promotion for good first promotions manager in the in the EMI label manager. So when I was 25, I was the EMI label manager and it was the coolest job you could happen to have you know, as

 

Andrew Dubber 

What was your training for that.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

Not much, I guess. Same as anyone listening to Appearance Rico collection. I’ve been the reason they offered me the job was I’d been working at the Big Day Out office and we’ve been doing a whole lot of tours. I’ve done 100 International Tours by the time I was 21. And

 

Andrew Dubber 

sorry, back back up 100 International tours, by the time you were 21. How does that work?

 

Morgan Donoghue 

so I was managing a band at school. And that went quite well for a little a few years. And we invited this guy called Johnny Leech along to help us we were going to Wellington for our first gig at Bar Bodega. And we were like, ah, let’s get someone who understands touring to come along. And so he jumped in the van and his as a store manager and we started driving and half an hour later, he’s like, you don’t need my help. I need your help. And so um, he asked, he owned the company that ran the big day out in New Zealand and he asked me to come in and have me $200 a week and I was doing Communications at at the time and I was like, Wow, this is awesome. So I did that. And at the end of it they said stay on we’ll pay you $250 a week. I’m still living at home. I’m 19 and we’ve got this woman Alanis Morissette coming next month. We’ve got this band The Fugees coming the month after that and then we have the Smashing Pumpkins, cranberries, Tina Turner, blah blah blah blah blah. Yeah, it just went on and on and on and it was awesome. And so I was on my radar because I call up and be the annoying guy from the promoter guy. How many CDs Have you sold have, you know Metallica in there go ah and that always inflated by you know 15 or 20,000 said that We would tell them, but we knew that Yeah, we knew what was going on. And yeah, and so you might came to me and offer me the job. And yeah, it was more than $250 dollars, it was still tiny amount, but it was so exciting to work at a record label and like, right, Friday night drinks are compulsory. Oh, amazing, right? Stand up on the balcony. And we used to make darts and throw them across into Auckland Girls’ Grammar. Yeah, after everyone had gone home, and it was, yeah, try and get it out across the road. And, you know, it was amazing and went skiing got to the whole lot of my favourite bands. So Radiohead, blue, Beastie Boys, all of that stuff. But the probably the most exciting part of all of that was signing local bands. And it really came to a head, we hit an executive meeting on why again, I said, Look, we need to assign some local bands, everyone else’s signing local bands, and then they’re in control of their own destiny. But it was an expensive thing. We obviously hid Crowded House and Neil Finn, through Parlophone in the UK, in the mountain birds through virgin in the UK, but that was kind of the extent of our local repertoire. So we’re like, well, we got to get into it and just went to a vote in the first three people, or six people, the first three people that no, I was for the MD was five, and the finance guy was six. And so after me, brown voted yes. And then the MDC rights are tied vote, and I voted for it. So you can do it. And so and I had this list of five bands that I wanted to sign, and we did, so it was good to get in, you know, to take, you know, Rodney and Gareth and all the boys and take them from the studio in gralen they house and you know, have a number one single was awesome in the beauty was nearly every band we signed with gold or platinum, and we had some big heads and we structured deals that make sure that that address got paid, because that’s what we want. We went in there to, you know, sell 150,000 Records and spend all the money on TV advertising at the time, it was

 

Andrew Dubber 

going against type though, I mean, your major record label and you’re signing local artists in order to help local artists that you always assume that there’s this undercurrent of, you know, you know, we’re going to rip these guys off for you know, the sort of a big villain and was that the culture that you were kicking against? It was

 

Morgan Donoghue 

I can’t even claim that I can’t claim at that time to have understood the local music, profit and loss on this video, like how it all worked out. But there’s a music industry legend, Chris kanak, he was my boss at EMI. And heads thing was, okay, we’re doing it. But we’re only doing it if we seen in the imagick every quarter. So if we’re not doing that, then we have failed. So we’re watching every single penny. And we’re doing this properly in a month. Okay? And then he’s like, right, you know, me going on a proper finance course. And we went to Australia for it. So we could really make sure that we understood every bird. And what that difference a royalty break would make or you know, if you spent more on the packaging, or the video and all of these things that will like a laser focused on delivering it. And yet even things like we had Golden Horse on a P&D deal through Tracy McGinn siren records. And we were like, okay, we think in the film was off the chat. This is really heated. And once again, it’s Chris looked at me because like, this can be a number one record. Uh huh. And then applying with the Auckland Philharmonic, the next week, he’s like, Oh, you know, the next month and he’s like, but we need a new cover in we need to take the ability to market itself. facts out. It’s out. It’s, it’s, we were making the last night siren in Golden Horse. And so we then licence the record off them for six months or something in Smith’s fit with advertising. And that went to number one. And you know, maybe tomorrow was a mess of it was the most played song of that year. In So, you know, and we still paid them a big check, because we really understood the finances. So no, I can’t claim that but as my own but I learned if I was doing it again, I’d make sure for sure.

 

Andrew Dubber 

There was a really interesting context around that time, too, in that the halon clocks, Labour government had just come in, they put a massive injection into culture and cultural funding through New Zealand on air. And so there was now support not just for funding local music, but actually making sure that it got broadcast what sort of a difference did that make?

 

Morgan Donoghue 

This is it. Trick question or not? Because my wife was she set up that New Zealand only funding scheme with Brendan Smyth at that time, she wasn’t my wife at the time, but she was in 2008

 

Andrew Dubber 

But it inclined you favourably towards?

 

Morgan Donoghue 

Yeah. Um, so I’ve gotta say, uh, you know, we we would not have done any of the ADD, hit. Oh, look, New Zealand on air made it possible for it to happen. Otherwise, what happened in that local music industry would never have happened without the help of New Zealand on it, though it the five gramme video grand, which you could the match for another five grand to make a 10 gramme video done that was like, Great is, you know, the 50 grand album grants. All of it, you know, there pluggers were out there pushing songs at Radio before I think the record companies understood how to do local music at Radio. And they did help desks. They tried to break things internationally. That was super, super helpful. So you know, and they had a pretty hot shot team as well. You know, my wife Nikki was there obviously, but Camille was the David Riddler was the Brendan Smyth. Mike McClung. You know, it was it was a range of highly highly talented people

 

Andrew Dubber 

And super fans.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

Yes, and super fans, and we’re all going out to all the gigs and there was a real vibe for local Anna. In Yeah, we I mean, we were doing compilations like roots compilations. We did Lazy Sunday compilations, it was just the ability to go Yeah, great. We, it was one of those dream jobs that you would go, I would have paid for that. You know, to hang out with your favourite brains sign your favourite bands locally in get to work them and yeah, get the money and you know, make them happy and then go on and that the young Pluto was a another one we did and salmonella dab. But yeah, it was great. Black Seeds, Blindspott, was great time.

 

Andrew Dubber 

Well, it sounds like not just that you married into it. But also that the whole scene was quite small and remained. So it’s a really kind of tight knit community, the sort of New Zealand music scene with it the fear, yep. There’s always the line about New Zealand being such a small country. But yes, the size of Norway, we’re talking about 5 million people. It’s not it’s not tiny. No, I mean, maybe a Pacific Island, the, you know, the middle of nowhere, but, but there’s a lot of people here but this for some reason, the music scene here seems really kind of interconnected. Right across genre. Yeah. What do you think accounts for that?

 

Morgan Donoghue 

I think we’ve a lot of us, you know, bumped into Callum, next door. And you know, we see we’re good mates, but we’ll probably see each other once a quarter or something like that. But, you know, he, he did that scribe MP, many records, it’s, you know, he ran dirty records with the money and he did the ticket on a record and all of that and insert, we’ve known each other. It’s that’s an easy 20 years, you know, we’ve been to America to give it to me with universal, a whole lot of stuff. So, but there’s, you know, there’s another 50 hundred people like that, that we can just bump into each other and we won’t miss a beat will have been just straight and has this as their blah, blah. So, you know, if you go to the Music Awards, or the silver scrolls or any of that, yeah, spend half the time bumping into your mates. You know, I saw dhaba nice did a came around to the house. And yes, it’s a it’s a lovely thing. And as I think when you’ve been in it long enough, it’s just normal. And you just, yeah, it’s like we have this little thing on a Friday night. We’re Adam Hart from Universal and Healy from at Berlin. There’s Peter. election. Yeah, these 10 or 15 of us every Friday night at the pub, and everyone’s always welcome. And there’s always a quorum of the 15 of us talking absolute nonsense, but it’s a nice way to finish the week in it. Yeah. keeps you in tune with what’s going on. And we always have a cheers for that. Any musician that is passed. So yeah,

 

Andrew Dubber 

well, well, so for you. What is that what your parents do for instance, is that Yeah,

 

Morgan Donoghue 

yeah, no, I think it has. My parent, my dad’s a marine biologist. Okay, so he’s a whale and dolphin and seal and sea lion expert. So growing up, Mom and Dad both English in Well, I’m Scottish. And they came out here and three years before I was born, want to finish their, dad finished his masters and mum finished her teacher’s degree and they came out here three years before I was born, and with the most remote part they could find so they went to the highest communes up on the Coromandel. And they had three years there. And then I was born and I spent three or four years growing up in communes. So the first few years were in a car case. And, you know, living off the land dad spent his final money buying a fishing boat. So when I grew up, he was a long line fisherman for snapper off the Coromandel and mom was a teacher. Then he had jobs for Greenpeace World Wildlife Fund. Then, when I went to school, he got the job. He been doing sea lion research around the sub Antarctic islands. And then he got the job as head of marine mammals for DOC when it was formed in 87. I went down, went to high school, Mum came down and taught children with special needs. So we often had them around at the house on weekends to give the parents a break. And they I grew up with him protesting on drilling rigs trying to stop mining on the Coromandel and then after a few years in Wellington mum hated it and was like get me close to Coromandel, so dad said I could resign or I could work from the Auckland office. They said you can work from Auckland office. His first big thing was the going back to Alan Clark so Manhattan clack stop drift needed. He was when driving there with her. We I answered the phone when the Rainbow Warrior was bombed with to the captain of the ship. Because my dad was meant to be on it that night it was wound up giving a talk on whales but he was sick in so I answered the phone in the captain I think his name was Steve went the fuckers, he was American, The fuckers are blowing up my ship the fuckers are blowing up my ship. No. Hang on, get my dad. So they knew, Greenpeace knew straightaway. And then I when I got there, and then we listened to it on the news. A few years later, I did my history project on nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific 45 to 85. And as I go going out with a French ambassador’s daughter at the time in between, we were family friends with Fran Wilde who had been minister of disarmament in the in at the end of the friend world interview she said to me, I you know who should talk to me? No, she said David long as Beckenham which goes, call this number tomorrow, and it’ll all be sorted. And I did. And the guy was the loveliest guy I’ve ever come across. And I 20 minutes I think in the in his life, luck. Just keep going ask all your questions. And again, I say, I’d say I’d say it through the landmark domnick Premier trial because my dad was there. So I do a story. Yeah, yeah. It’s a child. And I asked them all about and he was totally honest. And then he said, Look, do you wanna come down to the debating chamber? I’m like, Yes, please. And he’s like, Look, I’ll tell you for lunch. Bellamy’s and I just did the whole thing was just amazing. So yeah, I, I had tea with a cup of tea with descender before she was Prime Minister, and we’re talking about it. And she’s got a similar story about Maryland, wherein she seemed to Lita and Maryland were in court for a history project, Maryland. We’re in Cauldre. Home and just started talking to her and that’s where her love of politics came from. So, so mum and dad said the dad came up, did the Auckland Department of Conservation stuff, I guess, early 90s. I did my last year at Selwyn College in seventh form. And then kind of months, I said the rock and roll stuff I’m dating. Cool. Well, we’re already going to Coromandel every weekend. We’re moving back. So good luck. And they move back to Coromandel. And when dad worked for DOC for the years in the in the last eight years. He’s been working for the UN and Samar. And he’s just stepped down and is doing some consulting for marine mammals and surrounding forest and bird and Commando. And yeah, they’re just still trying to do as much conservation stuff as possible.

 

Andrew Dubber 

So where did the technology bit kick in? Because that’s you’ve ended up very deep in that world.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

Yeah. And I, I don’t know, I think it became, I think it dance your illiquidity? I think the whole commune thing early on in liking people is probably the string. I wouldn’t say I’m massively technical. I wouldn’t say massive, massively musical either. It’s, you know, I can spot ahead, but I couldn’t really play it for you. I think I’m pretty rhythmically challenged as well. But yeah, look, the tech thing. I was at EMI, and Vodafone, we’re launching what they called your delivery music which was music to your PC and mobile telephone. And as I They came to me and said, We want to launch before iTunes, can you? Can you can you do it in the federal contract? And I went to talk to Chris and was like, Fuck, I don’t know, man, like what any site do you have to do that is like, it’s like 50% more. It’s, it’s the future. I’m going to be gathered, but it’s the best thing for you. And so I was like, Okay, let’s weigh in. So I did it. That was mid 2006. Put out my last local record. And it was June the 16th. Or something. It was a Friday It was a black seeds. On the sun album debuted at one massive, I was into the dojo, I think, yeah. And it and it debuted at number one, had this party and then I went to the St. James. And they gave me this real box. And then they gave me a shout out and shot the light down. I was like, Oh my God. And so we hit a hit a couple of weeks off in Dublin started, I think July. And we launched in November, a few weeks before iTunes launched and there was not a week where we didn’t have a bigger market share than apple. We’re always number one. So I read something big audio culture put up something saying, Ah, music, iTunes launched that ad 20 years ago, or whatever it was 10 years ago. And you know, amazing the transformation listed or these other services. And I was like, yeah, and Vodafone were the first and they were number one in his article from the haircut. So thanks very much in so I think we did 106,000 single sales and December 2006, or something like that. And yeah, it was great time. And that was the only country in the world where Vodafone was number one. And we were number three overall sales, not per capita. So Wow, more there. So we hit 2 million subscribers. Vodafone Italy hit 24 million subscribers, and we hit more music sales than they did in so I had negotiated all these new deals with the record labels outside of the Vodafone global contracts, and they’re all like, what are you doing? And that all came to a head when this guy called Rob wells, his main mind global president of digital at Universal for a number of years. And, you know, I think you could say that he’s responsible for streaming globally, if it hadn’t been for universal at that time, it would never have happened in my mind. So Rob was always pushing the stuff sir. Robin, I’d had this dinner at the French Cafe where we ended up really going hammer and tongs and me telling him that he didn’t understand digital music. And he loved that he he said to me, afterwards, he’s like, that guy. Wow. And he seemed and I was like, that guy’s an idiot. And, and I called up Adam the next day and said that guy’s an idiot in Rob, was it and Rob only told me this about six weeks ago. Oh, my God is brought up. You know, shortly afterwards, Rob wrote me a note that said, thanks so much for the debate. No one ever stands up to me. You can have whatever you want. Inside that time I want to do DRM free. This DRM thing is gonna kill music. And we any sci fi, have it done. And you can have subscription as well. We’re fighting over how much it should be a week. And we were doing this music station product through Omni phone. And then suddenly he caught up I guess, man, I’m really sorry. But your company internationally is so far. I’m pulling all of the content down internationally, you can keep your stuff, but you can’t have any of the new stuff. Number. Okay. Okay, in so I wrote to the guy who was Global Head of content for Vodafone. I said, Not sure what you’re doing over there, but you’re fucking up my shit so sorted out. And I woke up in the morning turn on the BlackBerry and was like, wow, okay, there’s a plane ticket leaving tonight. Okay, right. And so they sent me to London, straight into a meeting with the MDs of universal Europe. thing in these of Vodafone Europe, the Chief Marketing Officer of Vodafone, Rob wells, Lucien Grange before he said Lucy ingrained in me the little kid in the middle of Robin Lucien and I’m like, the fuck is this. So I’m sitting in this boardroom of Lucy and he’s got his own boardroom guy. What is going on here? We’re talking about all this huge stuff like cancel the Formula One sponsorship that you pay 30 million pounds for Vodafone Give it to us to put in this and it’s all these grandiose plans, and none of it comes to fruition. The whole day wasted with a whole lot of really amazing people. And then at the end of it this is I think it’d be the first time this story is gonna be on tape. We talked about it a lot. But in Robin, I both laugh about it a lot. So then I’m walking out in Rob goes, Morgan. I’m like, yeah, you guys, let’s go wakeboarding. And like, what’s wakeboarding? Because I have no idea. You know, and day goes a boat behind a boat in them. Oh, yeah. Okay, cool. Well, yeah, let’s go wakeboarding. I said, Well, I need to go back to the hotel to grab my togs. Man, I’ve got togs for you already. So it was clearly already planned. And so we go out, there’s a private member’s club out by terminal for at Heathrow. And we go out there and he gets in. He’s, he’s a snowboarding surf isn’t is a? Yeah, yeah. He’s a main mountain. And so he’s doing flips and all sorts of shit. And then it’s like, okay, your turn. Now, Mike. Right. Great. And it’s, as I say, private member’s club. It’s a muddy x quarry out by terminal for that you’re overpaying for no doubt. So I get in there. I can’t get it up on this thing. And he goes, Morgan, if you get it up this time, DRM free, New Zealand only, and I’m like, Okay, cool. So I’m really focused on it. So I’ve been I do it. I do three laps around. Give him the finger. Hammer Cropper. And we go into the Baron sinks and pass in the knees like, right. Sticking to deals done. Okay, cool. Great. I’m going to go back to the hotel, I get back to the hotel with all the Vodafone guys. And they’re like, what happened? Um, I mean, like boarding, did a few laps. Got my DRM free deal for New Zealand only You guys are so fat, but I’m all fine. Again, so sweet. And they’re like, Okay, cool. And they offer me they hit up music job on the spot. And I’m like, the Global Head of music. I said, Look, I’ve got a American movement to launch this service back in New Zealand. So when back launch that it was successful in VMC. Look, I will come back and try and sort your stuff out. But I don’t really want to live this. I’ll come back, we’ll do a three month contract, you can pay me slightly more than I’m getting paid. Now in let’s see what happens if you like me, and I like you at the end of it in Oracle. Otherwise, you can get someone else it’ll be fine. You’ll surely these people around here and started and three days later, I signed new deals with all the labels that they’ve been out of contract for for three years. I think. It wasn’t hard. It was this just understanding the contract and a few little tweaks and then we are and everyone’s happy. And then we launched subscription music across Europe and Vodafone was the biggest seller of subscriptions in Europe by some way. Spotify launched pretty much same time. And Daniel Eck and I had dinner together in South France, and we would meet him and we were just chatting away. And he said, we’ve just announced with the biggest music subscription service in Europe, we’ve got 250,000 subscribers, and I said, Oh yeah, tomorrow, we’re going to announce that we’ve got we’re the biggest in we’ve got a million in Spain. And he’s like, why? And at that point we got and this is gonna, we started having conversations about Vodafone, blaring Spotify in real time. And I’m glad we didn’t in our way see it, it was a bad idea. I wasted that Vodafone would have ruined Spotify and would be nothing like it is today. Yeah. And thean. I was there for three and a half years. And we it was it was great. And honestly, going around with the Spotify guys, because we were mates. Right? We were both trying to push this thing that we all know now as streaming. Yeah. But at the time pick. The labels are like you’re dreaming about iTunes revenue, it is never going to happen. It will never happen. And without Robert don’t think it would have end he pushed the other labels to follow and that was universals job. Right. And I you know, we were walking around with ketchup afterwards and go to the pub and hang out I went to the viene de cologne universal hosted as at the Ryder Cup if they had their own hole at the Ryder Cup in Wales and so, me one of the universal guys in the Spotify guy when we hit this amazing weekend up there, but I mean, look, we we would all go to like the MTV awards together and yeah, and everyone thought we’d be like this, but we’re always hanging out and having fun and it was it was a great time but I decided like I said before that DRM was the killer of all killings in? I think now you just don’t notice it. People probably don’t even really understand the area anymore at all. Well,

 

Andrew Dubber 

it was really obvious at first implementation. Yeah, now it’s not one that

 

Morgan Donoghue 

now you can just, and I think it’s the cross device thing that makes it just so seamless. So arts and get across this, this and that. But at the time, I was like, I just can’t see the way we this isn’t gonna be a pain in the ass. And we would, you know, I guess now you’ve got only two people really powering handsets, but at the time Nakia was massive and using Java. There’s all sorts of shenanigans when it come to interoperability between devices. And so I went on a big mission, we hit a joint venture with Nakia. That week in this his first time on talking about this as well called Project Auckland, which stood for all you can keep planned. And it was unlimited mp3 is yours to keep for Eva. So Spotify, but on steroids. And every time there are four major labels, not three, and we went hard, and we spent a year doing research, and we went to all the labels with what I suspect as was is the biggest cheat that anyone has had offered for for that service. And we got a long way down the track and three of the four were in and one of them just was off the planet. And we were like and wait. And in. So they sent the term sheet through. I didn’t even go to anyone else. I’m like, no way. And they taken so long to come back. It was just like, we out we gone. And they came back and like no, no, no, but negotiate with us. I’m much too late. I pulled the pen and they’re like, No, you can’t do that. And I’m like, in the guy that did it now runs one of the biggest studio streaming services in the world. And so we laugh about it. But yeah, it was in after that. And I don’t think it was just because it was called Auckland as like, I didn’t work in it after that, because I can’t tell subscriptions and full track things and ringback tones and renter. Um, I’m done. It’s been amazing. But time to take the kids home in so that was 2011 in came home and moved to Serato.

 

Andrew Dubber 

Yes. Serato is a bit of a sideways step. Because it’s not about distributing recordings of music. It’s about music production music making well and performance by DJs.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

Yes, I mean, at the time, they had this service called white label, which was that says we’d the record labels paying Serato to give it away for free through the digital service. Because at the start the implementation of Serato killed vinyl sales did and so the only way it could break Yeah, because the labels we’re used to sending out 12 inch promos, 12 inch promos, he’s a white label, he’s a blah, blah, blah. Yeah, yeah, that was one of my first jobs. EMA is wrapping up the 12 inches to send out to DJs. And we just, I would like, if you can do it and deliver it inside your Serato thing, then that’s great. And you give us all the database, and we’ll pay you per one. And now there was a good way to print money. And when I got there, I was like, how did you do that? But it’s amazing what just happened? You know? Wow. So yeah, look, I guess,

 

Andrew Dubber 

because you were six years at serratos right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And what happened in that time? What was the sort of trajectory of Serato

 

Morgan Donoghue 

I got there. And I think there may be 22 people, they’d hit that amazing stat with pitch and time winner just been Steven AJ making this thing So Steve goodland to play bass. In pitching time now 20 years later, is still the best pitch shifting time stretching algorithm in the world. And then after they make quite a lot of money out of it, I mean, quite a lot of money they like it’s make a DJ product. And I think they may be employed one of the developer to launch scratch live. And they they demoed it in Nam and it was a mess of her in the in what they call the SL one which was the first interface box was the biggest selling product in American retail. American musical instruments retail that year was more than guitar strings more than get topics like just massive because it changed everything

 

Andrew Dubber 

because the innovation was put record and timecode on vinyl.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

It was Yeah, it was basically that you could take an mp3 and drag and drop it onto a acetate Yeah, and then manipulate it without anyone not so You’re not having to change a record, you’re not carrying a bag of records. You’re carrying a harddrive of your favourite songs and that. So they’ve been through that massive growth in that massive success of making tonnes and tonnes of money. And then there was maybe 22 people and look, they’d been chasing me for a long, you know, I probably had a six month conversation with them. And at the time, there are a lot of other people offering me cool jobs. And I was like, this is all fine and Vodafone really wanted me to stay in Vodafone New Zealand, it offered me a GM roll as well. So it was all about what’s happening here. And what are we going to do and so so Serato, I got there, and I was like, Well, okay, we need to rebuild this, we need a new codebase. Because we, we could only make two pieces of hardware a year. And we couldn’t always be at this very top in and we needed to make improvements and everything else we’re doing. We didn’t mark it, we didn’t sell. They didn’t know what a channel was. It was it was time to bring some sales, marketing and business now. So the operation, they didn’t have a finance person it was I was going to weird It was like two teams of developers and he couldn’t really talk to them. And it was madness in it. In my first thing was like, right, cool. Spotify wants to do an integration with us, we should do it in there. Like, that’ll take two years. And I’m like, okay, Spotify will get back to you. And by the time we went back to them, it was too late. They were gone. They didn’t have time for us after that. So it was time to rebuild Serato I think do artist relations in the hidden and that probably put in studios all across the world. So artists would go in the it’s great to be based in New Zealand in a success overseas, but he still need people overseas, but they’d always just had people locally. So it was great. It just needed a bit of time spent on it in so we did in we grew up from early. It was 22 I think 225 when I left in still remain profitable all the way through as we as we grow it as it was a great thing to do. And I loved it and i was i that the long negotiation in me been actually pulling out and say that I’m not an as having my leaving party for Vodafone in Madrid at the hotel where Real Madrid Stan was making making crazy and awesome but as I landed there Sam my mate who is the CEO of Serato, who runs a company called melodics Monsieur Odin So Sam corny said are the board seeds, you can name your price and I’m not really is that Yeah, they said name it price. Okay. And that’s it. So I sat down in the hotel before I went drinking it. Here’s the number and well never agreed to that. And five minutes later they agreed to it never should have gone by. And yeah, and came back and did it and loved it for six years but was also time to get out of it.

 

Andrew Dubber 

Okay, so that takes us to in music, use what’s in music.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

In music is a collection of brands is 16 of them a name some because no one can ever remember all of them. So the non DJ D non professional Moran’s professional, Akai professional, rain, DJ, new Mac elisas in audio ion which is a big consumer one in America. Sonic box sonivox soundswitch, which is a New Zealand company lighting software company we purchased just over a year ago, which allowed the whole and music New Zealand thing anyway, so that’s a collection is five more than I can’t remember off the top my head and one guy, this guy, jack O’Donnell, he owns all 16 of them personally. And I meet him from before I started at Serato Sam had me come over to Frankfurt for I was living in London so it wasn’t that far for a trade show before I even started. And I met jack there and a few times Get off of me roles when I was at Serato and then after I left here of muran i said i actually I don’t want a job right now can we just want to take some time out and at that point I just wanted to go walking and I just bought a new house and just wanted to get fed. I think be a bit of a nicer person. You know just like being fully work focus for so long as this is my first time in I think 24 years where I didn’t have a job and So I said to him, Look, let’s Jen, six months, six months later, he called and said, I’m gonna fly you over next week. It’s been a week together and see what happens in so we know over. And he said, Okay, come and work for me and Roland offered me a job at the same time and a few other people, I said, Look, I only want to do three days, I still want to be able to do my own thing of nothing. And it’s like, Okay, cool. And then we acquired the company, soundswitch, and taranga, which is my first kind of full m&a thing that I controlled from the start. And that went really well. And then a few months later, he said, right, I want you to sit up, and it was a Sunday, I just come back from America from trying to do a deal with Spotify. And he’s like, I’m coming on Friday. And I want you to set up a whole lot of interviews, you’re setting up a New Zealand office, I’m not What do you mean, a New Zealand office? What are you talking about? You guys, I wanted a development team in New Zealand, we need we can’t do software quickly enough for all the projects we’ve got going. So me and Pete, the head of software are going to come down. And I went, Okay, when he said Friday, fuck. So it’s like setting a flat, I had to find an office by a fridge, dish washing desks, and in it but all of that stuff. Ah, so he walked in on the Friday, and one of the owners of Serato because they were really helpful. We’re helping assemble the disc. And, and we say that the DA skin MD we started interviewing, and he said through 20 something interviews that weekend. And we pointed to people I think, then we just kept growing. And so we’ve now been live for a year. And we’ve got 35 people in a hand. Yeah, in

 

Andrew Dubber 

software development across all brands,

 

Morgan Donoghue 

no, just across the DJ brands at the moment. And but basically, we’re making a lot of software that a lot of are particularly keen on range is using embedded software. So you do not need a computer. So everything is inside the computer. And we’re developing a lot of that technology here. And yes, so now we’re 35. And I’m in the middle of working on the strategy document for what we do next, because now I’ve had a great year, and we can do that I get what else can you do right. Now? I’m working on that. And

 

Andrew Dubber 

what better place to do that?

 

Morgan Donoghue 

It’s or is it? Well, I think it is because there’s so much talent, like we have not had a problem with talent in I think, everywhere else in the world. This seems to be a lot of competition. But the competition here is from like, between us in Serato and melodics. And another company called Argonaut, we’re all within 200 metres of each other. So it’s really calm, we’ve got this great vibe together. But we’re probably competing against people that are doing boring bank apps, or you know, just because we’ve managed to assemble a totally world class engineering team. And we’ve got a great atmosphere and a great team culture and all of that. And we’ve got beer on tap, we’ve got you know, it’s all fan and and you get to work on cool stuff that you’re into. And I think that’s probably the difference. It’s not, it’s not a bank app.

 

Andrew Dubber 

Is there any downsides to being this far away from all of the other places? Whether you know, that consumer electronics, the pro electronics, the music industry, that they’re all they’re all centred elsewhere?

 

Morgan Donoghue 

Now, I honestly don’t think there is I think it. Yeah, we see what’s going on. And I travel quite a lot the rest of the team and travel quite a lot. And yeah, that’s not a problem in. We’re working with our international offices on what the next features are that we’re working on. And when we’re speaking all out, but yeah, every two weeks, which you can update on what’s going on. So know that it’s been no problem at all. I think we’re in music with that many brains. I think there’s a lot of other distractions that happen, you know, because it’s so busy in the office, when they’re doing all that stuff. We’re asleep, and then we get up and we just work when keep delivering. And yeah, it isn’t being endurance at all. No, you know, and I think that the US dollar is really strong at the moment. So that becomes helpful as well. Right?

 

Andrew Dubber 

Right. You said you were going to go three days a week so that you could just relax the rest The time hasn’t relaxing going.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

Yeah, I mean, three days was a dream. It was a good a good thing. Look. Over that time I did it launched a charity that I’m really excited about it was part of the walking thing was giving something back to music. So I set up a charity called roadie for roadies with my friend Brent Eccles, and we’re doing it March 20 2020 minutes going all across Australia as well. And I think this year America, and it’s just giving to roadies that fall on hard times, maybe that you get a drug addiction, and maybe that you fall from the scaffolding and don’t have you know, it’s just there’s a look in the first year in New Zealand, we raised 20 grand. I think Australians raised a couple of hundred grand last year. And then yeah, we’re gonna do that again. So that’s exciting for the ability to not work five days as well gone out the window. But I’m having a fun time. And at some point, I know now what it will be like when I stopped working again.

 

Andrew Dubber 

And you’re also investing? Yeah, tell us about that.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

So I’ve got an investment fund called Pacific investments that there’s three founders, there’s myself, a guy called Mike Tod, who’s the chief marketing officer in New Zealand, in a woman called Rachna, who’s my old friend from we both worked at EMI at the same time, but we didn’t know each other. She’s from Wellington. He came back in January last January this year and was like, right, yeah, come and meet Mike. And so Mike. And I sat down and talked about a whole lot of startups and stuff in the in the end of it Rachna said, right, the three of us are forming a company together. My ACO, what does it do it? And she’s like, yeah, we’re gonna take stuff from New Zealand in the Pacific. And we want female founded companies that are doing ecologically good things. And I want to try and take them to my network in America. She went from Wellington to have to do an MBA and is one of those super connected, awesome people. And so I’m like, Yeah, great. And I said at the time, I said, Look, I’ve got no experience with this. Yeah, I’m having fun. So I’m like, I’ll just take a smaller shareholding, and I’ll do the notes and make the tea and blah, blah, blah. And they’re like, no, we’re all thirds. We’re all into give us us. Okay, cool. in it. It’s been awesome that the sad thing is we even found something to invest. And we’ve gone really deep with two projects. It’s been a lot of time and effort for the lawyers money drawing up contracts, and they just haven’t come through. Which is a bit disappointing. But 2020 hopefully that will happen. And then melodics. Yeah. invested in that since Sam started it. So when Sam decided to leave Serato and I was gutted. But understood what you know why after 10 years, he needed to leave. I was, I said to him, Look, whatever you do, whatever you choose to do, I’ll invest any slight beam. But I said, I don’t care what it is. I don’t even need to hear the idea. I said, I know you in a know how great you are and how well respected you answer

 

Andrew Dubber 

that right or not?

 

Morgan Donoghue  

Yeah, yeah. So I’m in. And so I invested in the first two rounds of melodics. It’s got a bit expensive now. So I’m just gonna sit back and see, see how it goes. And he’s done some good fundraising. So that’s awesome. And and then I’m working in investing with a company called nuraphone, who are making headphones in Australia. And yet, the technology is amazing. So they’re eacute specifically for your hearing. For noise cancelling, you hear things you’ve never heard in songs before? You hear it, like it was intended to be heard. It’s like no one has the same eyesight. No one has the same shoe size, you shouldn’t expect people to put on the same pair of headphones and hear the same thing. So that’s really exciting. And yeah, those are the kind of investments.

 

Andrew Dubber 

Well, so is there any plan for like 5/10 years? Or is it just the sequence of things that fall out of the sky, land in your lap and go on? Because it’s,

 

Morgan Donoghue 

there’s never been a plan. It’s no, like, I was probably like, I’m like to be I think I wanted to be a journalist or a lawyer. And no, there’s never been a plan when I was sitting at EMI. I was, I think, because I was in the right ages, like, okay, I’d be sitting there writing the marketing plan. I’m like, okay, pretend you’re the audience. Because guess what you have, you would come by this. So it is easy to put myself in the zone of being the Radiohead or the Beastie Boys guy. And yeah, and so look, we had great success, but now there’s never been a plan of hope. This is what I want to do. Look. I’ve got My company that I set up, when we were managing Holly Smith and 2006 into I, I run that and operate out of out there and just consult to a lot of people and say no, no plans just keep on trucking on.

 

Andrew Dubber 

So what do you say you do? When when people say, what is it? You do? Is there? Is there a catch all phrase?

 

Morgan Donoghue 

I kind of gotten Oh, and then like, what do you mean wrong? And I’m like, I’m a consultant in the music and technology space, I think is probably the simplest way of describing it. Because Yeah, there’s been a few other companies I’ve worked with over the last couple of years. So yeah, that’s, I think what I do, I’m also the Managing Director of Music, New Zealand, in look after all of those guys, and the CEO of my own company, and so yeah, there’s a lot going on. And just, yeah, I’m pretty keen on helping people. If someone wants to know something, I’m happy to sit there and have a chat. Hopefully, I’m not telling them.

 

Andrew Dubber 

Is there anything that you set out to do you haven’t done yet?

 

Morgan Donoghue 

No, I mean, if I had done was lucky enough to have done half the stuff that I’ve done, I would have been like, what, even if I’d just been the tour promotion that I’ve been stoked? I could look back on there we go. That was cool. The EMI thing? Oh, wow. You know, I mean,

 

Andrew Dubber 

yeah. Sounds like you’ve got about half a dozen people’s really great careers.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

Yeah. But it’s, it’s no planning. So yeah, it’s not this. And I don’t want think any more than half of the EMI thing was like, wow, I need someone else to have this amount of fun that I haven’t had. I want someone else to experience it. Because it’s, it’s great. Yeah. And I’m leaving it in a good place.

 

Andrew Dubber 

What is it about you that made all that possible?

 

Morgan Donoghue 

I really don’t I just think it’s common sense in maybe it’s more than that. But I I don’t see it,

 

Andrew Dubber 

what I can what other people say about you, but

 

Morgan Donoghue 

I don’t know. I try not to. It’s not. It’s not I love to jump into. I don’t know, it, maybe

 

Andrew Dubber 

it’s a singular career. And it’s it’s not just something that the career happens. And you just happen to be filling those roles that there was you that was doing those things. You don’t think there’s a particular characteristic or trait?

 

Morgan Donoghue 

Honestly, I think it’s what I said before, I think it’s people yeah, I honestly I really like people. And I really like talking to them in a really like, trying to get them on sites the wrong terminology. But, but I like working with people to get a situation where everyone’s going to win out of it. Right? In, you know, so whether it be the record deals with the bands, whether it be selling the concert tickets, whether it’s going in doing the deals with the record labels for streaming or DRM free, or any of that I can we can find we can we can always go anything, we can get a result here. And yeah, there’s very few times we don’t,

 

Andrew Dubber 

sir, advice for somebody who wants to sort of follow in your footsteps.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

Oh, I don’t look. Well, just like follow my footsteps. Why would you do that? Now look, if

 

Andrew Dubber 

we’ve given some pretty good reasons, some nice parties Yeah.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

Sure, sounds. Sure. Look. If you love music, and you’re good at communication, which is I think, honestly, that’s probably my strength. And now there’s not many things that really surprise me or get me hugely emotional. You know, there were things in the day that did you know, then just follow your passion. That’s all that I’ve done. And I’ve been lucky enough to have been put in some positions that have allowed me to grow in and do cool things.

 

Andrew Dubber 

Cool. Morgan, thanks so much for your time.

 

Morgan Donoghue 

My pleasure, Andrew.

 

Andrew Dubber 

that’s Morgan Donoghue. And that’s the MTF podcast. If you want to know what’s going on in the world of MTF, our upcoming events and Frankfurt hosting the MTF innovation stage at musikmesse, running the ice labs exploring sound design for urban environments and industrial applications and Mannheim, and further adventures around the world as the year progresses. You can find us at www.musictechfest.net at Music Tech Fest on Twitter, Music Tech Fest on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and so on. If you enjoyed the podcast don’t forget to hit the subscribe button. Like Share rate And if you have a moment, we’d really appreciate a review, particularly one with the five stars on it. And in the meantime, have a great week and we’ll talk soon Cheers.