Michael Stiassny

Michael Stiassny

Vector chairman Michael Stiassny and entertainment executive John Barnett have scored their first international hip-hop hit as local rapper Savage signs to US-based Universal Republic Records.

The two high profile businessmen were the surprise buyers of South Auckland label Dawn Raid after it went into voluntary liquidation last April with unsecured creditors owed $518,859. Barnett – who owns half of South Pacific Pictures – said Dawn Raid hit problems because it expanded too fast but he and Stiassny saw talent in founders Brotha D and Andy Murnane.

But the US success for Dawn Raid act Savage has added some swing to the record company’s financial fortunes. This week, Savage’s hit Swing moved up to Number 14 on the iTunes hip-hop chart and Savage signed to the multinational label Universal Republic Records, meaning bigger sales for Savage’s past recordings.

Barnett was executive producer for the film Sione’s Wedding, for which Brotha D and Murnane oversaw the soundtrack. Stiassny was involved in the label through his accountancy firm Ferrier Hodgson around the time of its financial difficulties.

“Michael [Stiassny] thought the idea [of an investment] was quite amusing and knew I’d be interested,” Barnett told the Business Herald.