Features July 6, 2018

Take 5 with the brains behind BIGSOUND: Executive Programmer, Maggie Collins

Take 5 with the brains behind BIGSOUND: Executive Programmer, Maggie Collins

BIGSOUND is one of the biggest events on the Australian music industry calendar.

A jam-packed three days during which industry and artists come together to hear some of the foremost community minds speak, network and discover the next big thing in Aussie music.

2018 promises to be the biggest year yet, with keynotes from the likes of Paul Kelly, Virginia Hanlon-Grohl, Erin Kelly-Burkett and stacks more. Not to mention the 100+ musical acts that will be bringing their A game to showcases right across Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.

To prep for the massive conference, TMN is catching up with five of the people that make it all happen.

First up, Excutive Programmer extraordinaire Maggie Collins.

A jack of all trades, you might have heard Maggie coming out of your speakers on triple j or Brisso’s community station 4ZZZ. She also puts on her manager hat to take care of Brisbane bands The John Steele Singer and DZ Deathrays.

For the last three years she’s been the executive programmer who gets the final say on the artists who make it to BIGSOUND – if there’s anyone’s attention you need to grab when applying, it’s hers.

We asked her what gets acts over the line.


What are you looking for when curating the BIGSOUND lineup: is it potential to succeed, a point of difference, a story, a sound? 

What I’m looking for in one act might not be the same thing I’m looking for in another. The artists are at so many different levels that the criteria for each act changes.

Obviously, for any of them, if they have a decent plan and have shown how they’re going to reach the next step in their goals from whatever level they’re at, then it definitely helps me see the overall picture.

Anything like that, coupled with unique, exciting, and profound music means there’s a good chance they’ll play – however, there is always so much competition.


In your years as a festival programmer, what are some of the biggest trends you’ve observed emerge from next generation of Australian musicians? What trends have continued, and which had their moment and quickly faded out? 

With the benefit of easy access to laptops, DIY recording equipment, young people’s time to spend making beats, and the influence of Flume, I’d say that electronic music has been one of the biggest types of sounds that has not only excelled but blended in with other genres.

That being said, in very recent times, I’ve seen so many new powerful, individual songwriters who have looked to artists like Courtney Barnett, Stella Donnelly and Hatchie as role models and decided to dive right in. Good news for us! Georgia Mulligan, Kaitlin Keegan, Pool Shop, Asha Jefferies, Eilish Gilligan, Elliott, Jeffe and CXLOE, are just some to name a few.


What’s the biggest mistake young, inexperienced musicians make when trying to get their music and name out? 

Expecting too much too soon.


When an act really nails their showcase, what’s the best way to capitalise on that buzz?

Actually, it’s the work they do beforehand that will pay off for them after a baller showcase. Preparation is one of the biggest keys, not just preparation for BIGSOUND week, but for what follows.

You’ve got a small window to take advantage of the international guests that are there before they fly thousands of miles away.

If you contact them after the fantastic showcase, but never researched them or got in touch with them while they’re in town, then it may not stick in their mind as much. Always worth a follow-up email though!


What’s your #1 tip for making the most of the full festival and conference and emerging (relatively) unscathed and intact?

Here are a few tips for free: Prepare. Pace yourself. Wear comfortable shoes. Keep an eye on how much booze you’re drinking. Relax, everything will be fine, it’s just a conference. Have fun.


BIGSOUND takes place from 4 – 7 September; for more information, click here.

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