Richard McNeill, aka Richie Rich, is well known as one of Australia’s most successful promoters. He is acknowledged as a forerunner of the electronic music scene in Melbourne as well as being a prominent DJ figure in the seminal years of Australian dance music since 1990 and is Australia’s longest running electronic music promoter throwing shows since he was 19 years of age.
Richie has explored numerous avenues of the music scene over his career. Managing Mushroom’s ‘MDS’ Distribution Dance Department (aka “DanceNet”) for 4 years, he developed it into the leading dance importer and distributor in Australia. Prior to, and whilst at Mushroom, Richie established Hardware, which was well known for organising new and innovative events and festivals around Australia. Richie supported the local industry and showcased international talent to thousands of fellow music lovers over the years.
In the late 90s Richie was a long time radio presenter on KissFM, with one of the most popular shows every Monday night playing the latest techno and rounding up the weekends events.
He owned two record stores in Melbourne (Hardware Records) and Adelaide (Red Light District), ran his Azwan Transmissions record label and publishing company (in partnership with Mushroom) for 10 years and was a founder and brains behind the creation of Australia’s most cherished festivals and events including Apollo Festival, Two Tribes, the Hardware series of raves, Belfast, TransAtlantic, Welcome NYE, Creamfields Australia, the Stereosonic juggernaut. This all culminated in winning inthemix’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
An outspoken but fair promoter, Richie champions change and policy development from being a committee member of the development of the Victorian Government’s Code Of Conduct for Running Safer Dance Events to agitating for fairness in the music distribution and licensing system for events.
Richie took a short hiatus to focus on family life welcoming the arrival of his third child, after the sale of Totem Onelove Group to global company SFX Entertainment in 2015. This well-earned pause in his ever-evolving career re-inspired Richie to work for Beatport on their consumer Streaming Platform, and as SFX Head Of Asia / Special Ops to bring structure to its rollout of events to the Australasian precinct. In 2016 after SFX entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Richie decided to rejuvenate Hardware and invigorate some fresh energy into the dance music industry in Australia which had become stale and a wild wild west after the demise of so many festivals. This also created work and a platform for many past employees he had developed long-time friendships with, the Hardware family.
Pure Music Co was formed in 2016 with good friends Carl Cox and Eric Powel which now produces the largest and only national electronic techno showcase in April every year. Symbiotic Events was set up in 2019 with business partner and former assistant, Janette Bishara which runs Australia’s largest trance based events including Dreamstate, Marlo’s Altitude, Transmission and mega acts Above and Beyond and Armin van Buuren to name a few. These events range from 2,000 to 20,000 people.
In 2019 after a false start in 2018, his latest festival project Festival X was finally launched with ex-Stereosonic partner Frank Cotela from Onelove and long time mentor and Apollo partner, Michael Coppel and Live Nation. In only 4 cities including New Zealand it hit over 100,000 patrons first year and is on the way to a new chapter in Australian history.
Richie and Kyle Hand are just about to launch their management company Atom Music Group, which has been setup during the Covid lockdowns signing fantastic Australian-based electronic music artists to take on the world once things get back on track in 2021.
In 2021 on December 31 NYE, it’s the 30th anniversary of the first ever Hardware rave, Hardware 1 which was held at the Mercantile Rowing Club on the banks of the Yarra River in the city of Melbourne. Previously in 1990 it had only been running club nights. This special 2021 year will celebrate 30 years of promoting electronic music events in Australia and with a huge book project “True Faith: 30 Years Of Hardware Tales from The Dancefloor”, a True Faith radio series/podcast, potential video series/movie on the history of Melbourne electronic raves since 1989 and an exhibition.