Richie McNeill, aka DJ Richie Rich, established Hardware based in Melbourne in 1990 with the intention of delivering hedonistic techno and trance events to the dance community. Featuring a roster of the world’s best in electronic music – Sven Vath, Jeff Mills, Adam Beyer, Richie Hawtin, Sasha, Autechre, Deep Dish, Marco Carola, Laurent Garnier, Oliver Lieb, Cosmic Baby, CJ Bolland, Ian Pooley, Paul van Dyk, Cari Lekebusch, Kid Paul and many, many more – the events were a huge success. Dance music fans revelled in the chance to experience such a high calibre of artists on their shores and quickly became followers of Hardware.
From 1991-1994 Richie was head of Dance Music at Mushrooms independent MDS Distribution. Responsible for importing most dance into the country, and some of the greatest labels including React, Warp, R&S, Strictly Rhythm, Nervous and much more plus acts like Orbital, Underworld, The Prodigy and more.
Opening in 1995, and for 7 years Hardware Records opened its shop in Prahran and Red Light District Records in Adelaide with long time friend Mark “Bundy” Bund. Techno was in a boom!
In the latter half of the 90’s and early 2000’s, Hardware experienced a huge period of growth that would help define the Australian electronic scene for years to come. In 1998, Hardware, alongside ‘Michael Coppel presents’ (Now Live Nation Australasia), launched the country’s first national electronic music festival, ‘Apollo’ featuring Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, Speedy J, Fluke, DJ Sneak, Frankie Knuckles, Adeva, and Jeff Mills, among many esteemed artists. A year later Hardware partnered with fellow Melbourne-based promoter Future Entertainment, to launch the highly revered ‘Two Tribes’ festival. Winning countless awards in its eight-year history including ‘Best National Festival’, ‘Two Tribes’ remains one of the most defining festivals in Australian dance music history.
From here, Hardware left the March Two Tribes period which became Future Music Festival, to work with Onelove to create a new music festival under Totem Onelove Group. It was here that Stereosonic was born. Artists including Carl Cox, Solomun, Maceo Plex, Avicii, Hudson Mohawke, Calvin Harris, Deadmau5, Major Lazer, Ricardo Villalobos, Jeff Mills, Tiesto, DJ Snake, Marco Carola, Paul van Dyk, Miss Kittin, Armin Van Buuren, Diplo, Porter Robinson, LMFAO, The Hacker, David Guetta, Dillon Francis and more featured on a Stereosonic lineup over the festivals nearly ten year duration. Delivering a variety of music genres to fans over a single day format, the festival grew to signify the start of Summer for many Australians and won the most awards in Australian history for its efforts.
In 2013 Totem was sold to US company SFX along with many global powerhouses (ID&T, MadeEvent, Awakenings, Tomorrowland etc…). In 2014 Richie had a 14 month break after having his third kid, travelling and spending time with his young family. Returning in 2015, working for SFX Richie headed up Asia for the SFX LIVE team and Event Marketing for the Beatport streaming platform. In 2016 SFX went into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and Richie left.
Having re-emerged in 2016, lead by Richie McNeill and Damien Kease, Hardware returned with a reinvigorated sense of purpose; launching several new events in Australia. With a focus on delivering a diverse range of artists across a number of genres and presenting events with musical and creative passion. This involved starting Pure with friends Carl Cox and Eric Powell, launching Babylon camping festival and finally after a setback in 2018, launching FestivalX with long time mentor Michael Coppel and Live Nation.