BIGSOUND 2020 was 100% virtual, 100% free and 100% amazing to watch and be part of from anywhere in the world. Clocking up 30,000 streams from 6,100 delegates in more than 30 countries, here are a few of the tips and gems of knowledge we wrote down.
This panel was all about being an adaptable music creator, one who wears many hats and knows your worth featuring songwriter/artist/curator Nat Dunn and games composer Mick Gordon.
Mick, who got into games composing when he found that there were 40 or so games studios in Australia but not really many local games composers. It was a niche he could fill.
“It’s very network-based, it does come down to knowing as many people as you can.
“Games are different in that a team making a game can be upwards of 1,000 people, so you need to know who in that team of 1000 to talk to. Finding our who those people are at different games and getting your music in front of them is as important as ever.”
On knowing your value:
Nat talked about how a role isn’t necessarily clear cut in the studio.
“I’m not just a topliner who jumps in and leaves at the end of the day. It matters to me how it turns out.
“My role changes case to case from executive producer to vocal producer.
“If you’re asked to do extra, you should ask to be paid extra. Labels don’t know unless you tell them, managers don’t know if you don’t tell them. Artists are busy.”
On getting the job
Mick: “You need to have a skill that the producers behind that entertainment product feel is going to improve the product that they’re making—the video game, the film, the TV score – it will be better with you.”
Top internationals talked about being a local artist in a global industry.
Think and act local
Andy Sloan-Vincent leads International at Spotify, “Songs, no matter the language, need to connect to the listener,” and noted that it’s important to keep it close to home even when going global.
“You might have a song that goes global, a run-away success because the song is so good. But alongside that you might have a lot of stuff happening in your own home market and that might generate a more ‘sticky’ kind of fan.”
When touring disappears
Alex Taggart of Outdustry, “Touring disappearing sounded like a really terrible thought experiment. We have put too much emphasis on one income stream. It’s terrible to get torn away but it’s put more scrutiny on other income streams.”
Andy shared helpful tips:
- Hiring a manager: “Identify who you are and what you want. If you’re picking a manager, you want someone who has your best interests at heart.”
- And then hire a social media strategist “They aren’t demanding a salary upfront, just a percentage cut.”
- What’s your goal? Pick one. “It may be that you want to play one show outside of your home country.”
Everyone else is doing it, why don't you? There are considerations.
Is there a barrier of entry with the live streaming shows at the moment rather than traditional gigs?
Yes: these are experiences only for people with access.
People who don't have huge fan bases, artists at the very beginning of their career, it's hard for them to build their followings, its harder than with traditional gigs.
Top Tip: don't expect it to be exactly the same as a regular gig, expect a learning curve, your true fans will be happy to come along for the ride with you
Embrace the future with this fast-paced and fun presentation by Bolster's Paige X. Cho and Carl Redwood.
F is for: First Party Data
You probably use this without willingly knowing, it's the audience you can engage with directly.
U is for User Generated
You don't just drop a new single and call it a day. You engage. This might be via:
- Merch drops
- Sharing or going live with songwriting sessions/insights
Top Tip: "We need to move away from posting for the sake of posting.”
Carl explains that when your posts don't get the engagement or reaction you want, "You can blame the algorithm to some extent but not entirely.
"You need to have a strategy and think about how it is going to help you grow."
Related from the Quit F*cking Up A Good Thing panel:
"We are presented so many 'success stories' which are presented to us as 'the dream' - this is a skewed perspective which is amplified by social media. You don't hear about all the things that failed up until that point."
Lots of great conversation in this one with producers and engineers.
A great question: what will music sound like in a post-COVID world?
Nick DiDia:“I don’t know if it bodes well for rock 'n' roll bands, not being able to play live during this time.” Without playing live, it's harder to get better and up your game.
Anna Laverty: “It’s going to sound like everyone was in a different room and they dropped files.”
Donna Woods, Writer Representative, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Office (NATSIMO) shares her notes and takeaways from presentations including:
We are here!
The range of voices that were given a platform during BIGSOUND 2020 and the incredible insights, perspectives and teachings were generously offered is a loud-and-clear message to anyone in the industry that still thinks that “there are few ‘qualified’ people from First Nations or Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds in order for there to be adequate representation across the music industry”. This is and never was an excuse for the industry’s lack of diversity – you’re probably just not listening, or looking hard enough.
If folks want to be an ally, make change where you are.
If you’re an artist, interrogate the line-up and consider giving space to an underrepresented artist.
If you’re in power consider the legacy you leave in your succession planning.
If you’re an industry professional, speak up when roles are being advertised and filled.
If you’re in events show your support by seeking out and engaging with contractors, business and products from Blak and multicultural individuals and businesses in your local area.
These are some things I learned from BIGSOUND 2020.
Mo'Ju moderated the artist roundtable with Jaguar Jonze, Ecca Vandal and Ella Hooper.
They spoke openly about that having time away from performing has made them realise that maybe it can be done in a healthier way.
“Is there a better way to do touring that’s less strenuous on our mental and physical health?” asked Mo'Ju.
Jaguar spoke about her long illness with COVID-19. "The reason COVID probably effected me so bad, was that I had been running on adrenaline for years. It was a domino effect. I’m not just fighting COVID but fatigue and burn out.”
She doesn’t quite know how to implement the changes she wants to make into her upcoming tour, but “I’m going to try to balance the intense touring schedule with self-care.”
All agreed that it's the activity around the show, not the performance, that takes it out of them.
“I don’t get sick from the gig, I get sick from the damn after party,” said Ella.
“Performing is tapping into my inner vulnerability. I need some decompression time after," said Jaguar.
Top tip: let's talk about our well-being
Ella said when developing her career, there wasn't a way to talk about being tired or needing to decompress. "If I had language like that to be able to talk about it, it would help. Mo'Ju and I weren’t taught how to do that.
“I don’t take being an artist for granted. But it is our work and our place of work.
"Yes being a performer there are elements are being really fun. But it’s hard work. And it’s so not personal if we need to decompress.
“We need to be more upfront of that communication,” said Ella.
In his keynote and on a similar theme, Crew Care's Howard Freeman spoke about "respect for the human being" around crew, especially for large scale events and tours.
“It's time to change the mindset of what a ‘roadie’ is. Instead of busting our balls and trying to work through the night, why don’t we add a day to that load-in schedule? Instead of having a guy go to work for 20 hours, why don’t we hire two guys to work 10 hours each?"
“Let’s work on the future being respectful, let’s look at the welfare of human beings, lets respect the amount of women in the workforce, let's try to initiate welfare offices at major outdoor gigs where there's a volume of humanity working.”
Amy's shared this songwriting tip:
“Think about how many conversations or arguments you’ve had. I put a magnifying glass on that and pick it apart, and then I go and write a song about it the next day.
“If you’re a young person, and you want to be an artist, go and live. GO AND LIVE, and screw up and do all those things and learn, cause it makes it easier to write songs when you’ve got so many things to write about.”