October 27, 2020

How this year’s BIGSOUND was actually bigger than any other

How this year’s BIGSOUND was actually bigger than any other

The numbers are in for this year’s BIGSOUND.

By going 100% virtual and 100% free, it drew 6,100 delegates. Normally that number is 1,500.

BIGSOUND always had a healthy draw of visitors from around the world, mostly in Brisbane to check out the export-ready talent.

But 2020 included registrations from 30 countries including first-timers Estonia, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Taiwan.

This morning, the conference revealed that over two days there were 30,000 streams from 55 sessions featuring 143 speakers.

The festival website had 150,000 page views across four channels of content.

With these numbers, it would be hard to imagine BIGSOUND reverting to a 100% physical format.

For years it’s been coaxing Tom Morello for a keynote, however, he couldn’t spare a week to journey from LA. But given the opp to spare just an hour, he immediately grabbed it.

He was well worth the wait, pinging into BIGSOUND’s themes of disrupting and being disrupted, a purity of intention, and moving the needle to the other side of COVID’s reimagining.

A takeaway from Morello’s Whatever It Takes address was the importance of giving no quarter to effect change, whether it was climate or Black Lives Matter.

“Being on the right side of history sometimes means being on the wrong side of the lawn,” he shrugged.

I OH YOU founder Johann Ponniah’s 200 Shits Per Album, another high-streamed session, was a textbook on successful risk-taking.

For him, the achievement was not the gold records from its left-of-centre roster but “the brand and community that we’ve built” and learning not to allow ego to make bad decisions, “but using it the right way because ego can be a positive”.

100% BLAK: The Indigenous Future Of The Music Industry included a call for quotas if First Nations music was to take its rightful place.

The conversation took one (or three, maybe five) steps forward with the first Spotify-activated First Nations Hub where discussions and meetings were held along with showcases by ​Birdz, Kee’Ahn, South East Desert Metal and Aodhan​.

There were lessons to be learned from battles Amy Shark, Tones And I, Mo’Ju, Ecca Vandal, Ella Hooper and Jaguar Jonze faced in cutting through the noise, and the scars they left.

Street sass taught Tones And I to go the busking route rather than uploading a track and hoping like hell it would find ears in the digital Milky Way.

On being asked to keynote, she admitted: “All I have are my words that come from my experience, no years of studying or meeting professionals and learning how everything works.

“The truth is, I’ve spent most of my life, and music life, feeling like I’m not good enough.

“But then I realised, the feeling of not being good enough is a huge part of being an artist, so that’s where I want to start my keynote – a place nobody wants to go, but a place we’ve all been before, and it’s a place of self-doubt.”

And the effect of having a monster global hit: “It actually feels like I blacked out for a year.

“If I could go back now I would tell myself to enjoy the moments and really feel every part instead of numbing myself to it all.”

If that struck a chord, so did the Levi’s presented Mental Health Stream​ of six panels from ​Support Act​ and feedback from mental health experts and artists at the coalface, like Brendon Love from The ​Teskey Brothers, Jaguar Jonze, Nathan Cavaleri, Gordi and Fanny Lumsden​.

The Future Of Live Event Streamin’ also proved clickbait, according to BIGSOUND.

The talk covered the good (new skills, new ideas, wider audience), the bad (working to monetise it) and the ugly (preserving one’s image and brand and, as Nina Las Vegas beautifully summed it, “If you wouldn’t watch it, don’t make it.”)

Sessions from ​BIGSOUND 2020​ is available to delegates to stream free for the next six months and those who missed the event can still register as a delegate to access all the content.