BIGSOUND 2017: Day 3 Roundup (Part 1)

By on Wednesday, 27th September 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

The conference portion of BIGSOUND 2017 had an admirable, multiprong approach to addressing the gender divide in the global music business. On a general level, they made a concerted effort to include plenty of female panelists in their sessions. Specifically, they offered a session on Thursday (repeated on Friday) called No More Manels! Public Speaking for Women in the Music Industry, led by Alison Wenham, CEO of Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) and advocate for women to be confident in this male-dominated business. (On Tuesday, to open BIGSOUND, a Women in Music mixer at Eleven rooftop bar as a nice networking event. Another session I attended on Wednesday, Hook-Ups: Gender and Music, had less focus than Wenham’s session and I found it less useful.)

Wenham gave a kind of toolkit to provide encouragement to women asked to speak on their expertise, whether as standalone speakers or as part of a panel, and underscored the difference between men and women when asked to speak in these capacities. While I didn’t agree with all the negative generalisations she made about men in the business and those overwhelming positive towards women given my own experiences, I could see her talk as being a good starting point, as if a therapy session, for women who have felt particularly downtrodden and marginalised in this industry and simply for the fact of being a woman.

I also attended the What Brexit Means for Your Band session. I think it suffered from lack of attendance due to the concurrent sessions on syncs, the technology of live music and the role of labels. I was attending because I was curious whether Northern Irish duo exmagician’s threat of not touring in America if Trump was elected would occur, not because of what has happened in America but because of the prohibitive cost of British artists touring Europe once hard Brexit takes hold. Of the three panelists, two were from England (one a gig booker and another booking festivals) and the third was Clémence Bizien from Paris, a representative of a promoter from the Continent. Clémence pointed a positive of Brexit that I couldn’t have predicted, because I wouldn’t have thought about it this way: the Brits have been lording over those on the Continent for years, looking down on them, that Brexit might mean the Brits will have to swallow their pride, be nice and not demand as much from their Continental cousins. If you think about this on a wider scale, especially given that BIGSOUND takes place in Australia, a former British colony traditionally looked upon as subordinate to Britain, maybe it would do the British music industry some good to be humbled.

At the Data and the Independent Artist session, I was eager to pick up tips and nuggets of advice that I could pass along to artists we champion here on TGTF. It was interesting to hear that the reach of Facebook Messenger is predicted to be bigger and to replace email as the medium of choice to reach punters before and during festivals and other events. The take home message I got from the session was that there’s plenty of data being collected by labels, streaming services and loads of other entities, but many of these collectors don’t really know what they have or how to use it. The same can be said about artists themselves, and like most things in this business, there is no ‘one size fits all’ formula of collecting and then using data as part of an implemented promotional campaign. Sobering, but the truth.

Braille Face Thursday afternoon at BIGSOUND 2017

I have to admit that I was losing steam by this point and the thought of returning to my flat to take a nap was very enticing. I somehow soldiered on to see Braille Face for a second time, at an unofficial showcase at Bloodhound Bar. I was rewarded for showing up by getting to see Jordan White perform not only with a violinist as at his Tuesday performance in the basement of The Judith Wright Centre with his drummer and horn-playing friends. For sure, the Bloodhound Bar receives my top marks for best unconventional indoor venue during BIGSOUND where alcohol was also available, ha.

Willaris K. Thursday afternoon at BIGSOUND 2017

I was next on to the best unconventional outdoor venue of the festival, the pop-up stage on Brunswick Street Mall. Well, maybe pop-up stage is the wrong terminology to use. Electronic producer Willaris K., who wowed a crowd of sweaty bodies Wednesday night at Heya Bar, held court from within a tiki-themed caravan. Never in a million years would I imagine I’d see a DJ spinning from such a vehicle, and I probably will never see one like it again. It may sound strange, but the fact that you could sit down, rest your legs and enjoy his detailed soundscapes after 2 days of running after bands was pure bliss. You’re going to have to trust me on this.

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