News September 3, 2018

A Guide To BIGSOUND Etiquette

Former Assistant Editor
A Guide To BIGSOUND Etiquette

BIGSOUND is almost upon us, and as one of the most exciting, opportunity-generating weeks of the year, it is also the busiest (and most stressful).

While it’s great to get your game face on and network like the boss you are, there are some social etiquette rules around BIGSOUND that will help you leave the right impression.

This coming week can be overwhelming, regardless of whether you’re a newbie or a veteran. An industry microcosm, BIGSOUND is a hotbed of chatter, and your personal conduct will either be an asset or a hinderance in leaving a lasting impression and setting you up for the coming year.

We’re not in Kanas anymore: this is Fortitude Valley and, as the name suggests, you’ll need to bring your A-game to survive all that this week is about to throw at you.

This list might help everyone else survive all you throw at them.

Be respectful of personal space

Venues and streets are crowded with everyone pushing to get somewhere important, right away.

Accidentally knocking someone down the stairs of the Judith Wright Centre is not what you want as your BIGSOUND legacy.

Similarly, if you’re very tall, keep in mind that you will block the view of vertically challenged humans at showcases. You have a vantage point; please don’t position yourself front and centre.

When in doubt, ask

The music industry thrives on diversity. If you’re unsure how a person would like to be referenced – be that their gender, culture, or role – in conversation, during a panel discussion, or in your content; just ask!

Listen more than you speak

BIGSOUND is an incredible opportunity to learn; be that expanding your ways of thinking, gaining new skills or acquiring knowledge from others that you can apply in your own work.

While it is also a chance to discuss, debate and share your views (and there will be plenty of opportunities for this, we’re sure the Changing Music Industry Behaviour forum will get heated), if you’re only focussed on talking about your own opinions and experiences you won’t be benefiting from all this conference and its attendees have to offer.

When it is time for you to take the mic – on a panel, in a discussion or just havin’ a chat – be mindful not to talk at people and, especially if you’re debating a point of contention, keep your voice level, let the other person say their bit, and be respectful at all times.

Don’t be a dickhead

This one is a no-brainer. Normally, industry peeps know how to behave themselves (snaps for you). But too little sleep, too much alcohol and too many activities can leave people with low tolerance levels.

Keep a lid on stressful situations and try not to spread your neg vibes with everyone else if something goes wrong; they’ve got their own shit to handle.

Leave your ego at home

You will rub shoulders with music industry workers from all walks of life this week. From unsigned artists to independent media, volunteers, major players and and the biggest of the bigwigs.

This is not the place to shake your tail feathers – view everyone on an equal playing field and understand we’re all here for the same reason; to support, learn and work collaboratively on improving Australia’s music industry prospects for the coming year/s. It’s important to be respectful of your peers, and immediately obvious in this environment who’s too big for their boots.

Plus, nothing is more disheartening to a young-gun starting their journey than to be shut down by an egoistical asshole. Just be a nice human.

Understand that not everyone will have time for you

BIGSOUND meetings are planned weeks in advance. If you’re only just approaching media, agents, management for their time now, chances are it’s tough luck. Take it as a lesson in preparation for next year.

While there’s nothing wrong with going up to people and asking them for a meeting while you’re there, respect their time and don’t take offence if they aren’t able to sit down for a long lunch.

Don’t butt into their conversations, be respectful, address them by name and stay calm – no one wants to be word-vomited on without warning.

An offer of a quick coffee and a ten minute chat outside the JW centre is a much better opp, or a beer at an evening party when the day’s craziness has chilled out. Work with their schedule, know that everything you think you need to say to them now can also be said next week in a meeting, or over the phone.

(On that note – have a place to stash business cards, and have your own at the ready!)

Come prepared with everything you have to say – now is the time to nail your elevator pitch.

Don’t be sexist, racist, homophobic, or transphobic

Please see above statement.

A positive attitude is your best asset

While BIGSOUND can be stressful and tiring at times, it’s also one of the funnest music weeks on the calendar.

Remember that it’s not all about networking and taking notes; have fun, let your hair down and make friends.

One of the many benefits of working in the music industry is that you’re surrounded by like-minded, passionate people who have turned their dreams into their careers.

Being open, attentive and positive will leave a lasting impression on everyone you meet, and create strong ties within the industry on both professional and personal levels.

Remember to balance work and play, and you’ll get the most out of your festival experience!

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