Following seven and a half years in the top editorial job, Larry Heath has stepped back from his editor-in-chief role at the AU Review, to double-down on his vision of parent company Heath Media emerging as a fierce competitor in the international media and events space.
Heath launched the AU Review as a personal blog covering the national live music scene without any financial backing or advertising in 2008, with the Sydney-based writer bringing only his passion for music and a background in web design and digital marketing to the project.
Fast forward to 2015, the AU Review brand has achieved success as an independent and non-profit online publication with four books, dozens of events and tens of thousands of articles released under the banner of Heath Media.
The site’s content is maintained by a dedicated group of writers and photographers from across Australia, and now attracts 6.7 million global user impressions per month through its editorial, video and social media channels.
Speaking to Influencing on the evolution of the AU Review from a passion project to a sustainable business, Heath credited his first visit to the famed music industry festival SXSW in 2010 as a turning point in the company’s growth.
“At the time, the AU was still nothing more than a hobby but I came back from this experience knowing that this was the career path I wanted, and I started working to phase out my other business, and by the time I was at my third SXSW it had become my full time role,” he said.
Heath’s decision to relinquish editorial control is a byproduct of increasing responsibilities that come with moving the brand forward.
“Do you keep on doing the day-to-day that you love and gamble on the longevity of the project, or do you focus on what needs to be done to keep the business growing and moving forward?” Heath asked.
“The time had come to do the latter, and it was a six month process to get everything in place to allow it to happen. Given that preparation, it's been a pretty smooth transition so far and little has changed.”
A new editorial team led by Sosefina Fuamoli, Chris Singh and Johnny Au has been established to manage the six other content verticals Heath Media produces, including sister sites The Iris, VideAU Games, AU Abroad, Hello Asia! and a radio station which spreads the brand into all areas of entertainment, travel, lifestyle and fashion.
“You'll certainly still see my name in the author column here and there - I will just no longer be making day-to-day editorial decisions for the site, leaving that up to the new team, and putting my focus into our new projects and business growth,” Heath explained.
Heath divulged that plans to build growth at the media company will include an ambitious attack at the international market to expand its existing stable of brands and to add new ones.
“This is something I've been working towards for a few years now, spending almost as much time abroad as I do at home,” he said.
“Now that I'm stepping back from the editorial duties, I'll be able to use time overseas without the distractions of the day-to-day commitments that the role required. To get there, we are working on investment opportunities and expanding on existing partnerships and arrangements.”
Heath Media is also expanding its involvement in events, and is working in the first quarter of this year with the Seymour Centre to program and run their popular Courtyard Sessions series, with more events planned locally and internationally in the year ahead.
“It’s been the most rewarding experience of my life and career and I'm incredibly proud and humbled by all our achievements along the way, and excited about what's coming in the future,” Heath said.
“But what's most important is that one thing has not changed: everything for me has always been about supporting music and the arts, and these changes will only aide in us achieving this long term.”
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