With BIGSOUND 2019 on the horizon, we're taking a look back at our highlights from last year's jaunt.

Note: This piece first appeared in Australian Guitar #XXXSubscribe to our print edition here! 

What: BIGSOUND Festival 2018
When: Tuesday, September 4th – Friday, September 7th 2018
Where: Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
Words: Matt Doria
Photos: Justin Ma / Savannah Van Der Niet / Lachlan Douglass

They don’t tell you this when you’re a kid, but it turns out moshing takes a lot more effort when you hit your 20s. So, when we weren’t pushing our Red Bull budget to its absolute limits, we endeavoured to broaden our horizons and ask ourselves the question, “How can we lend a hand in shaping the music industry of today?”

BIGSOUND’s daytime conference program aims to answer that by way of informative and interactive panel discussions, networking opportunities and keynote sessions. Here are a few of our key takeaways from the events we took part in this year...

As proved by PR mastermind Tim Price, it pays to be cryptic. Campaigns for acts like Gravemind and Underoath (the former up‑and‑coming, but the latter wielding two decades of clout) were equally fruitful with ominous, puzzle‑based websites getting crowds buzzing at large.

If you’re looking to get your name out there in the scene, don’t shy away from Spotify playlists. Punters might click on them for their daily fix of Parkway Drive, but there’s a good chance they’ll find themselves in love with your new single.

And while it may be tough to survive as a music venue in the present day, perseverance is key. If you want to put on a show, just go for it! Don’t let the suits upstairs boss you around.

For acts like The Ancient Bloods – a band with no set lineup, but a rotating crew of Indigenous youth – music is a tangible link to their heritage. For others, music is an outlet for thoughts and emotions that can’t be expressed elsewhere.

At its core, music is the most universal tool in existence. It transcends the barriers of language and class; it’s educational, cathartic, therapeutic, ritualistic, inspiring and, above all, fun. Music has the power to shape and connect communities like nothing else, and its societal longevity is crucial not just for the upstanding of the industry, but for that of humanity in general.

Diversity is imperative for the industry to evolve in new and notable ways. It’s a common argument that touring lineups shouldn’t force quotas based on gender or race because “it’s about what sells the most tickets,” but think: why is that? We need to support diverse acts in their infancy so that we can grow our festivals and tours to a stature where diversity is normalised without the need for quotas.

Representation is at the core of our efforts to spark such a change. We’re having necessary conversations about gender and race that were unheard of less than a year ago, and that’s thanks to outspoken advocates and marginalised creators that refuse to stay silent.

Which leads us to the issue of agency: more women, people of colour and queer people need to be given a voice in the music industry. Movements like #MeToo and institutions like Listen are spearing a well-overdue change.

Punk ain’t dead, but it sure is changing. And while their contemporaries have all but fallen by the wayside over the years, Fat Wreck Chords are thriving because they embrace that change. As co‑founder Erin-Kelly Burkett explained, however, their core ethos remains the same as it has since 1990: the artist always comes first.

Bands flock to Fat Wreck because they know they’ll be treated like family, and their releases will be handled with a hands-on level of care that other labels simply won’t bother with. That’s why even though Fat Wreck only sign bands on single‑album contracts, there’s no risk of losing their most lucrative acts to the major labels.

It’s no secret that mental illness is an epidemic in the music industry. The competitive nature of the game, the personal and financial burdens, and the sheer struggle to get your name out there can often beat a young artist down. No more so than the inner critic, though.

In this roundtable discussion, industry coach (and “recovering perfectionist”) Viv Fantin walked us through some key techniques to help manage our inner critics – namely, knowing when that little voice in the back of our heads is telling us that our work isn’t up to scratch to help us, or just to be a dick.

Ultimately, it’s important to remember that you are not your inner critic. You are your own autonomous self, and as long as you’re confident in your art and how you conduct it, who cares what that cynical prick thinks?

Not everyone can be as monumentally successful as Foo Fighters and Nirvana legend Dave Grohl, but sharing some choice cuts from (and exclusive insight into) her book From The Cradle To The Stage, the mum of the biggest modern day rockstar gave us a small glimpse into how the bearded badass’ trajectory kicked off.

Her sharpest point was a decidedly simple one: support goes a long way. Your kid will learn on their own how tumultuous the music industry is – with you on their side, they’ll know they have at least one set of ears to fall back on. Plus, who else is gonna drive all their gear around in those first few years?