In a year when COVID-19 has caused concerts, festivals, and all manner of events to vanish from the scene, so too has Brisbane’s BIGSOUND conference been affected, with the event announcing it will be going virtual this year.
In mid-July, BIGSOUND organisers assured the Australian music scene that the annual conference will indeed be going ahead in 2020, albeit a month later than later, and spread out to ensure the safety of attendees. Rescheduled to take place in October 21st and 22nd, QMusic CEO Angela Samut explained that BIGSOUND was not set to become a victim of the annus horribilus.
“BIGSOUND has been the leader of conversation and discovery in the Australian music industry for over 18 years and this year we will be forging ahead with a recovery-focused festival,” Samut said at the time.
“With the culture of our industry under threat from COVID-19, our industrial culture under scrutiny as we face head-on the structural inequities for women, LGBTQI+ and First Nations people, and our culture as a nation under the spotlight as global trends put even more pressure on local artists and local stories, never has it been more essential for BIGSOUND to proceed and succeed.”
Unfortunately, it’s now been announced that while BIGSOUND will indeed be going ahead in 2020, albeit without its traditional live showcase. Now set to take place as a free, virtual event, the 2020 edition of the conference will focus on three pillars of community, survival, and re-futuring, building on its 18-year history of bringing music, art and business together in a new conference program custom-built for the challenges and awakenings that 2020 has delivered.
“BIGSOUND has always been about bringing our business and arts community together and while we were hopeful of being in our spiritual home in the Fortitude Valley live music precinct, 2020 has made other arrangements,” Samut explained in a statement.
“It has never been more important for the Australian industry to come together to focus on survival and re-futuring with a program that offers a mainstream conference program, professional development and mental health activities as well as the introduction of The BIGSOUND 50.”
With live showcases suspended, BIGSOUND Festival co-programmers Dom Miller and Ruby-Jean McCabe, alongside First Nations Programmer Alethea Beetson, will select the best artist applications applications to spotlight the next crop of emerging Australian music talent to become The BIGSOUND 50.
This new method aims to ensure that these artists will still receive the global spotlight they would at a regular edition of the conference, while continuing to help expand their audiences and connect them with potential business relationships. The artists who make up The BIGSOUND 50 will also get the first priority application access to showcase at the 2021 event.
Despite going online for 2020, BIGSOUND plans to once again feature their First Nations House in partnership with Spotify, providing a poignant and important program of domestic and international delegates discussing the future of the music industry, creating virtual performance opportunities, and offering valuable connections to those across the music industry from a First Nations perspective.
“BIGSOUND 2019 saw the largest cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists showcasing at BIGSOUND,” explained First Nations programmer Alethea Beetson.
“With the move to a virtual platform, we have the potential to showcase First Nations artists throughout the whole year; have the long-term Indigenous led conversations required to dismantle and change the music industry; and continue the work of those who have gone before us in building the sovereign music sector.
“Working with Spotify, we are able to give more space to First Nations artists from these lands, and also continue our collaborations with our First Nations relatives across the oceans – in particular Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Turtle Island (Canada).”
Delegates who previously purchased a ticket to the digital edition of BIGSOUND are set to receive a full refund, while digital applications for this year’s event are open now via the official website.