He Dies And Is Reborn

Phil TrippAs he gathered up new clients and jetted around the world, he became a workaholic and slept only a few hours a night. He paid little attention to his health, drank cognac and smoked. Sooner or later he was going to crash and it came at age 36 with a massive coronary and cardiac arrest.

One of his clients was Divinyls’ manager Vince Lovegrove whose wife had contracted AIDS along with his son Troy. Like many of Vince’s close friends, Phil knew he needed money and time to care for both of them. He had another client, the Pro-Image Group then run by Steve Priest, which was a video production company looking for a major project. He put them together with an idea of doing a doco on the last months of Vince’s wife’s life and the project ‘Suzi’s Story’ started first as a proposal and a few hours of shooting to a full blown TV doco which ended up bringing the nation to tears and affecting the world. Tripp didn’t direct or produce, he appeared in it and tried to help promote it to overseas markets along with producers Pro-Image. A series of long haul flights and worsening health finally felled him.

He made it to hospital just before going into arrest and as fate would have it, one of the doctors from Suzi’s Story was working the ER for a friend that morning and managed to revive Phil after seeing him on a crash cart after he’d been given up on by staff. With one huge jolt, he was brought back and this changed Phil’s life. Told he might need a bypass or transplant and might be in bed for six months, Phil agonised in the ICU for two days and came up with the only idea he thought could work if he was semi-incapacitated. Phil TrippHe’d use that little computer and modem in bed to create a music industry directory both in print and online. He figured that the stress of doing PR at the critical mass he had would kill him, so he chose a most unlikely idea which has had a growth and lifespan over 25 years and 50 editions as of July 2013.
He was out of hospital in under a week, didn’t require further care and with two staff, focused on this one crazy idea. At the time, he was a consultant to the Australian Trade Commission for exporting music on the AUSTRADE Rock Committee with other luminaries. It was proposed that he create this directory as a free, advertising-supported biannual book with an online set of listings accessible on the Entertainment Systems International music industry bulletin board system. If AUSTRADE put up $10,000 for the research and compiling, Tripp would guarantee the ad sales that would permit printing and publication.

Only problem was that all of Phil’s industry mates reckoned it wouldn’t work. Because he had fought the major multinational record companies and power structure as a journalist, they felt that long memories would drive long knives. No one would advertise, they reasoned. No one would pay up front. A free directory was doomed. They gave every reason why it wouldn’t work.

Phil was depressed for a day and then suddenly realised, of course they think it will fail! They’re Australians and chopping poppies was a national curse. In fact, he was guaranteed an instant success if all his mates predicted failure. So for 23 years before he sold it in 2010, over $20 million in income, 45 editions and parallel businesses being formed to feed from the contacts and resources the AustralAsian Music Industry Directory has amassed, IMMEDIA! diversified and thrived while the music industry strived to survive.

Phil TrippIn those 23 years, Phil represented the New Music Seminar for five years, MIDEM for a decade and South by Southwest for a decade in the territories of Australia, New Zealand and Hawai’i. A music business books operation had over 50 titles for sale through the Directory and online. AustralAsian Music Business Conference started in 1993 and there have been nine biennial events with over 50 speakers and 600 registrants–the last one being August 20-22 2009. IMMEDIA! launched an online music business website in 1995 on the Internet which is TheMusic.com.au featuring news, views, charts, how-to articles and much more.

Though Tripp retired from PR in 2008 and sold the AustralAsian Music Industry Directory and websites to Street Press Australia when he turned 60 (November 2010), he and former partner Lisa Treen had also created Australia’s first free, cross-pet magazine in 2004–the glossy tabloid-sized Urban Animal–which became the country’s most successful and respected consumer pet publication. But he’s not working with it anymore and the pair have split up and pursued different paths with Lisa retaining the title.

Once he and Lisa parted ways, selling the Sydney house and dividing their assets, he headed North with his parrot to Coffs Harbour and his hillside retirement property overlooking the ocean and mountains six hours from Sydney. Coffs is a micro-climate where the mountains of the Dividing Range meet the sea and it’s not yet trendy enough for the music biz vets to make it the new Byron Bay. And Tripp intends to keep it that way!

Phil TrippThough he has danced away from the music industry, he’s not giving up on writing. As you’ll see, he’s reinvigorated his travel writing and also plans to write a book following the highly successful “When The Writ Hits The Fan” which he published with co-writer Phil Dwyer. and is still available as a download on Amazon and Apple.

The new title is “We Act For…” which are the first three words in the standard legal letter from top-of-town firms alleging defamation or other torts against their clients.

The book will feature a lot of correspondence, secret memos and other evidence in his career that was devoted as much to fighting for the lower end of the food chain as it was making a living doing what he loved. It also harkens back to his tainted youthful years when he almost went to prison and was living dangerously as well as being shot in a desert gun duel. But that’s another story…

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