- Alberts history dates back to 1885
Alberts has played a vital role in the evolution of Australia’s media and popular culture since the early days of sheet music and music publishing through to the birth of commercial radio and television and on to helping establish and build Australia's music industry.
Started in 1885 in Sydney’s Newtown by immigrant Swiss watchmaker and musician Jacques Albert (1850-1914), the business now known as Alberts was originally a watch and clock repair shop. In 1894 the business took the name J. Albert & Son when Jacques’s son Frank (1874-1962) joined him. Alberts quickly expanded to sell musical instruments and sheet music. It was soon known for its cheap and portable Boomerang mouth organs and songbooks known as Boomerang Songsters, pocket-sized books with the music and lyrics to popular American, English and later Australian songs.
In 1902 Jacques travelled to the US and began competing with other Australian publishers such as Allans Music and E.W. Cole for the Australian sub-publishing rights to the hits of the day. He secured the rights to international catalogues and composers including Shapiro, Bernstein & Co; E.B. Marks; and Irving Berlin.
In 1904 Frank took a prominent role in the business and expanded its publishing catalogue. In 1929 Frank’s son Alexis (1904-1996) joined the firm and in that same year Frank co-founded and became an inaugural director of the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA).
Over the next 80 years subsequent family members Alexis, Ted and David Albert would become board members.
Keen to remain in radio, in 1933 Albert, Doyle and Fuller’s Australian Broadcasting Company acquired the licence for commercial radio station 2UW. By 1956 Alberts had acquired 100 per cent of that company and ultimately expanded its radio network to a stable of seven commercial radio stations, covering Sydney (2UW, later MIX 106.5 FM), Brisbane (4BC), regional Queensland (4RO, 4MB and 4GR), Canberra (2CC and also KIX-FM), and Melbourne (3DB, later 3TT and subsequently TT-101.1 FM). In 1987 that network, then called Commonwealth Broadcasting Network, was renamed the Australian Radio Network and remained in family hands until 1995, when Alberts sold it to Australian Provincial Newspaper Holdings.In 1954 Frank’s son Alexis became a founding director (and Alberts a shareholder) in Amalgamated Television Services, the licensee of ATN7 (Sydney). He remained on the board for 33 years.
In 1959 Alexis’s son Ted (1936-1990) joined the business and focused on discovering Australian bands. In 1964 he established Albert Productions, an independent music production arm of J. Albert & Son, and soon signed Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs and the Easybeats, later adding fledgling bands such as Ted Mulry Gang, AC/DC, the Angels and Rose Tattoo and putting them on the world stage. Ted became known as one of the best producers and talent spotters in the business in partnership with songwriting duo Harry Vanda and George Young. He is regarded as the father of the Australian rock industry.In 1988 Ted collaborated with a young Baz Luhrmann to adapt his stage play Strictly Ballroom for the screen. Ted died suddenly in 1990 before filming was complete, but the success of the film helped launch Luhrmann’s career.
Ted’s brothers Robert (1934-) and Tony (1939-2000), who had joined Alberts in 1984, continued running the company, and today Alberts remains in family hands, led by Chairman Robert and Robert’s son David (1971-), the CEO and fifth generation member.
Alberts continued to be a leader in the Australian independently owned Music Rights Management industry throughout the 2000s and moved their headquarters from the long-held Neutral Bay location to Surry Hills in early 2016, continuing their relationships with artists such as Wally DeBacker (Gotye), Josh Pyke, San Cisco, Megan Washington, AC/DC, Tim Levinson (Urthboy) and Lee Groves as well as likeminded internationals such as David Guetta, Jasmine Ash, Ellie Goulding and Fred Riesterer.
In mid- 2008, Alberts moved into a slightly new area, making two strategic investments – the music-driven online youth entertainment and communications company Sound Alliance and from 2008 through to 2012 Australian management company, Hub Artist Services during this time representing Megan Washington, Winter People, John Castle, Old Man River and Dappled Cities.
Alongside the two companies, Alberts have been supporters of music initiatives FBi Social, Nordoff Robbins Vanda & Young Songwriting Competition, The Seed Fund, Music NSW and not-for-profit music focussed organisations Nordoff Robbins, Support Act and Mission Australia’s Creative Youth Initiative.
On 5 July 2016 BMG and the Albert family announced that they had reached agreement to acquire the company, J Albert and Son.
BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said, “This is an incredible opportunity to create a new leader in Australian music, combining Alberts’ strengths with BMG’s 21st century approach to the music business. As of today, Australian artists and songwriters wishing to tap into the world market have a genuine alternative to the established majors. BMG is very serious about the Australian market and this deal is an indication of our commitment.”
Alberts CEO David Albert said, “This was a difficult decision to make, but as music grapples with its digital future, with new distribution models and the influence of global technology companies, we believe BMG is in the best position to take the business forward. BMG has a global presence, an artist-friendly approach to business and a genuine desire to invest in and support the Australian music scene.”
BMG Australia Managing Director Heath Johns will run the newly-enlarged company, which will take on a number of the Alberts team. "No company has left a mark on Australian music like Alberts,” he said. “It is an honour for BMG Australia to protect this profound legacy and also work with its exciting contemporary roster to further build their careers at home and abroad. This is a big vote of confidence in Australian talent and a recognition of Australia’s status as the biggest international exporter of recording talent after the US and UK."