BIGSOUND puts Brisbane on the world's music map
Updated: 5 September 2019
Australia’s premier music industry event will take over the Fortitude Valley entertainment precinct for four jam-packed days this week.
Since being founded by QMusic in 2002, BIGSOUND has become a major event on the international music calendar. In its 18th year, the annual event will see 150 of the region’s hottest new bands and solo acts perform for more than 200 of the top talent scouts from around the world across 18 Fortitude Valley venues.
BIGSOUND attendees will also have the opportunity to network and attend talks and workshops with some of the music industry’s most notable names — including last-minute addition Andy King, the “extremely dedicated” event producer of ‘Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened’ fame — at conference hub Cloudland.
This year’s event will also feature the third annual instalment of BIGTECH, with nine developers and innovators showcasing their products, including a real-time music analytics app, VR video creator, online tour management tools and more.
QMusic CEO Angela Samut, in her first year in the role after a successful stint as the Communications and Marketing Manager of Screen Queensland, is excited to see BIGSOUND extend its reach beyond the music industry.
“There are so many different layers to BIGSOUND,” she says.
“If you look at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, it started as a music conference and festival, and now Austin is America’s second Silicon Valley. We hope that BIGSOUND can help Brisbane to grow in that innovation space as well. It’s important to connect music with technology and film and all of the creative industries in order for us to get more creative in making an income — we should all work together more.”
Of course, even as BIGSOUND expands its horizons, music will always come first. By putting upcoming artists in front of the right music executives, agents, promoters, marketers, broadcasters, managers, producers and engineers, BIGSOUND has helped acts like Flume, Courtney Barnett, The Temper Trap, Megan Washington, AB Original, Gang of Youths and more break through to the mainstream.
This year, delegates from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan, Ireland, France, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Chile, Mexico, Canada, the UK and the USA will head to Brisbane in the hopes of signing the next big thing.
“BIGSOUND has catapulted careers… the whole point of BIGSOUND is to do business,” Samut says.
“We have all the national and international buyers and labels and talent scouts here, and we put on all the best new music. I’ve had people tell me, ‘Oh, I don’t know many of these acts this year’, but that’s the idea — they’re all upcoming artists, and hopefully, they’ll get signed and the BIGSOUND audience can see them before they become famous.
“BIGSOUND is recognised as Australia’s biggest music conference and new music festival, and arguably the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. This is an event that holds its own internationally.”
While the event is primarily intended to help musicians and music executives connect with each other, it’s also a popular attraction for members of the public. Across four days in 2018, BIGSOUND attracted 6,361 attendees and participants, including 248 overseas visitors whose primary purpose for coming to Brisbane was to be at the conference, generating direct and incremental expenditure of $2,851,176 for the Brisbane economy.
This year’s event is set to be bigger than ever, with a slew of new additions including the Indie Label Market at Ric’s Bar and the BIGSOUND First Nations House, a dedicated space for First Nations artists, at TSO Lounge & Dining. BIGSOUND delegates will also have the opportunity to take a courtesy double-decker bus from the Valley to the Museum of Brisbane to see ‘High Rotation’, an exhibition dedicated to 30 years of Brisbane’s musical history.
“That’s something that we want to see happening more and more,” Samut says. “We want to integrate BIGSOUND with the rest of Brisbane, so it’s not just a music festival operating in a silo in the Valley. We understand the importance of making our footprint a bit larger.”
While the eyes and ears of the world’s music industry turn towards Brisbane for BIGSOUND, Samut would like to see the city recognised for its musical pedigree all year round.
“Adelaide is the only place in Australia that’s currently recognised as one of the UNESCO Cities of Music, but there’s no reason why Brisbane shouldn’t be,” she says.
“We have such a rich and popular musical history with the likes of The Saints, The Go-Betweens, Powderfinger, Regurgitator, Custard, Railroad Gin and The Grates, and we have so much new talent. Why can’t we be a globally recognised City of Music? I think that would be great for tourism to Brisbane.”
Ultimately, Samut says, events like BIGSOUND don’t just help to attract international attention to Brisbane. They also help Brisbane to retain local talents that, in an earlier era, might have felt they needed to leave the city to succeed.
“I’m a Brisbane native, but when I first wanted to get into music and work at a label, I had to pack up my life and move to Sydney,” she explains.
“So that is the end goal, to keep all of our talent here, and attract people who have left back home. And I think that is happening. There’s so much activity here… something’s changing in Brisbane, and everyone in the music game can feel it.”
BIGSOUND runs from Tuesday September 3 to Friday September 6 at various locations around Fortitude Valley. For more information and to buy tickets, visit bigsound.org.au.