by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , Published in Music Forum magazine, Vol 18 Issue 3 (May 2012)

Bigsound Live is a unique urban music festival that takes place as part of Bigsound music industry conference, each September. It is the curated showcase event that provides artists with the opportunity to not only perform in front of the who’s who of the music industry but also attracts significant numbers of music fans.

2011 saw Bigsound Live celebrate its 10th birthday and saw 80 Australian and international artists perform over 2 nights in 8 Fortitude Valley venues.

Fortitude Valley hosts Australia’s only dedicated Entertainment Precinct and provides a unique geographical cluster of venues and outdoor spaces. Bigsound Live attendees purchase 1 single ticket – 1 night or 2 nights, that gives them access to all venues and requires them to move amongst the venues according to their choice of artists. For Bigsound delegates theses showcases are the opportunity to find new talent.

By combining the two audiences of music fans and music buyers, Bigsound 2011 had nearly 3000 people per night in attendance. Music fans are excited by curating their own program, moving between venues, and watching bands in small intimate venues. They also enjoy rubbing shoulders with their favourite bands, and those bands managers and labels, who are all out watching and enjoying music.

‘The great music at great small venues scattered about the valley for such a cheap price.’

And it’s not just the fans who enjoy the format of Bigsound Live. Artists also love catching some of the acts they are fans of and who are creating a buzz at the time.

‘Bigsound 2011 was actually one of the best nights and gigs of my life. It was a completely packed-out venue and the vibe was just incredible!’ said Lanie Lane, Bigsound Showcase Artist

BigSound 2010Bigsound Live hosted 80 of Australia, New Zealand and Canada’s most promising up and coming acts featuring The Getaway Plan, Horrorshow, Busby Marou, Calling All Cars, Trial Kennedy, Evil Eddie, emma louise, Stonefield, Owl Eyes, Bleeding Knees Club, Adalita, Ball Park Music and many more.

Over recent years, Bigsound Live has been the launch pad for a number of artists who have used the combination of fan and industry attendance to go on to bigger and better things. The likes of The Middle East, The Temper Trap, Boy & Bear, The Jezabels and Busby Marou, have all found Bigsound Live to be a pivotal point in their career development. Fans love the opportunity to see bands that are just about to break it, there is nothing more exciting than saying ‘I was there’.

Bigsound’s philosophy is based around accessibility. Speakers, and artists and fans all are accessible to each other, and accessibility of venues. If you can’t walk there within a couple of minutes then the venue is too far away.

This accessibility of venues has proven a key challenge over the last few years of growth, as the ever changing face of live music venues has meant juggling new venues, maintaining previous ones and establishing some that only exist for the two days of Bigsound Live. The nature of tenure for live music venues impacts on Bigsound Live every year, and new combinations of venues are always required.

Inevitable growth of the event has meant we have had to stay focused on retaining intimacy and accessibility whilst still building our attendance, artists and delegates. So maintaining the feeling of the event with increased numbers drives our growth strategies.

Bigsound’s other challenge has always been communicating the diversity of the event, and that Bigsound Live is something that music fans will love and not just music industry professionals. With a couple of years of targeted communication and branding we have now overcome that perception problem, and our primary market for Bigsound Live is young people under 25, with about 45% being female. We interpret this high number of young women as meaning that the urban festival format is something they embrace as a great way to see a lot of bands and be in the company of pure music fans.

Bigsound Live’s public attendance is continuing to grow and this year we are introducing 10 venues and 100 acts, and again expect to sell out. The future of the event is one that includes an increasing number of days of music along with the number of indoor and outdoor venues. The Bigsound experience will become one of dilemmas, with the ever increasing choice of who to see and where to go becoming harder and harder.

Denise Foley is the Executive Officer of Q Music, organise of BigSound.


Read more from this issue of Music Forum