In Numbers: BIGSOUND Live 2011 – Part 1

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By Justin Edwards

The Q Music-organised BIGSOUND music conference will soon be upon us again. As in the last few years, the conference takes place in the first week of September and combines a music industry conference during the daytime with live showcases in the evening. The showcases start early with a series of industry and governement sponsored showcase parties that are only open to the conference’s delegates. before the event is opened to non-delegates to attend the event’s main showcases.

As the BIGSOUND website puts it:

In 2009 BIGSOUND launched its expanded showcase program concept, BIGSOUND Live, to the public for the first time. Traditionally the BIGSOUND showcases had been based on a market approach, bringing together national and international music buyers and artists.

The new look BIGSOUND Live program builds on that unique tastemaker-friendly atmosphere and includes a focus on public participation in one of the most exciting, vibrant and innovative industries and cities in the world.

BIGSOUND Live allows the public seamless access to live and original music throughout the program in a huge variety of Fortitude Valley clubs and venues across two nights. 2011 will see 80 of the best emerging acts appear for one of the most exciting industry festivals and showcases in the Southern Hemisphere.

Every year the live showcase element of BIGSOUND has expanded and in 2011 it now totals 80 acts playing across eight Brisbane venues over two nights. Although the BIGSOUND spiel mentions the showcase program expanding in 2009, BIGSOUND has been taking place in Brisbane since 2005. The details of the bands that played showcases in the first two years of the conference are sketchy (and I’m not sure if there were any live bands playing in 2005) and information about those years is not even summarised on Q Music’s website.

However, the details of the acts that have played at the event’s live showcases since 2007 are available from Q Music’s website, which means that there’s now five years of data to look at.

State/Country of Origin

Looking at the acts that have played over the five years that the data was available for, it’s clear that while the event takes place in Brisbane and is organised through Q Music, the proportion of acts from the state as a percentage of the overall number of acts being awarded showcases has dropped as the event has grown in size.

2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
State/Country Acts % of Total Acts % of Total Acts % of Total Acts % of Total Acts % of Total
QLD 26 32.50% 17 28.33% 26 49.06% 25 62.50% 38 88.37%
VIC 21 26.25% 14 23.33% 7 13.21% 6 15.00% 1 2.33%
NSW 17 21.25% 16 26.67% 13 24.53% 8 20.00% 1 2.33%
New Zealand 6 7.50% 6 10.00% 4 7.55%
WA 4 5.00% 2 3.33% 2 3.77% 1 2.50% 2 4.65%
Canada 3 3.75% 1 1.67%
SA 2 2.50% 2 3.33%
NT 1 1.25%
QLD/VIC 1 1.67%
UK 1 1.67%
ACT 1 2.33%
USA 1 1.89%
Grand Total 80 100.00% 60 100.00% 53 100.00% 40 100.00% 43 100.00%

Although there has been a slight increase from the 28.33% in 2010 (in case anyone asks, the one act recorded as QLD/VIC is the Wilson Pickers) to 32.50% in 2011, back in 2007 the total of 38 Queensland acts made up a whopping 88.37% of the total acts playing the live shows. In 2008, 26 acts from the state played at BIGSOUND, the same number as are playing in 2011 even though the total number of acts playing has doubled from 40 to 80 acts. Although Queensland is still providing the largest percentage of acts in 2011, acts from Victoria and New South Wales haven’t been far behind in the last couple of years. Based on the change in the breakdown in the last few years, it’s incredible that only a single act from each of New South Wales and Victoria played at the event in 2007.

City of Origin

Showing the Australian acts by their city of origin (and excluding non-Australian acts) shows a similar trend to that seen when the showcases artists were tabulated by their state of origin.

 2011 2010 2009 2008  2007
City  Acts % of Total Acts % of Total Acts % of Total Acts % of Total Acts  % of Total
Brisbane  21 29.58% 16 30.77% 23 47.92% 23 57.50% 32 78.05%
Melbourne  17  23.94%  13  25.00% 7 14.58% 5 12.50% 1 2.44%
Sydney  14 19.72% 13  25.00%  11  22.92% 7 17.50% 1 2.44%
Perth 3 4.23% 2 3.85% 2 4.17%
Gold Coast  2  2.82% 2 4.17% 2 5.00% 3 7.32%
Blue Mountains  2 2.82%  1 2.08%
Adelaide  1  1.41%  2  3.85%
Apollo Bay  1  1.41% 1 1.92%
Cairns  2  2.82% 1 1.92%  1 2.44%
Central Coast  1  1.41%  2  3.85% 1 2.08%
Darraweit Guim  1  1.41%
Fremantle  1  1.41%
Geelong  1  1.41%  1 2.50%
Mildura  1  1.41%
Milicent  1  1.41%
Rockhampton  1  1.41%
Darwin  1  1.41%
Bris/Melb  1  1.92%
Port Macquarie  1  1.92%
Townsville  1  2.08%
Bunbury  1 2.50%
Newcastle  1  2.50%
Kuranda  1 2.44%
Sunshine Coast  1 2.44%
Canberra  1 2.44%
Grand Total  71 100%  52  100%  48  100%   40 100%  41  100% 

With Queensland still providing the largest proportion of showcase acts in 2011, it’s no surprise that the majority of these are from Brisbane. This has followed the same trend over the last five years and you would expect Queensland’s largest city and the location for BIGSOUND to provide the largest number of acts who have played over the years. The decline in the proportion of Queensland acts over the five years is matched by the decline in the proportion of acts from Brisbane. In 2007 a total of 32 acts representing 78.05% of the total number of Australian acts playing BIGSOUND showcases were from Brisbane. Despite the increase from the total of 41 Australian acts in 2007 to 71 in 2011, Brisbane is only represented by 22 acts in 2011, less than 30% of the total playing the event. The numbers show a year-on-year decrease in the proportion of acts from Brisbane playing the event, although there has been a slight increase from 16 to 22 acts from 2010.

As would be expected, the growth over the last five years in acts from Victoria and New South Wales is dominated by acts from Melbourne and Sydney. Although both Melbourne and Sydney provided 25.00% of the 2010 live acts, the proportion has dropped in 2011 (to 23.94% and 19.72% respectively) as BIGSOUND has cast its net wide and far in 2011 and there are acts from a greater number of cities and towns than has been seen before. One thing to consider is that although acts might have originated in Geelong, Mildura and Darraweit Guim, it’s another question as to whether they’re still based there or have made the move to the big smoke of Melbourne town. It’s a similar consideration for the Queensland acts from Cairns and Rockhampton, and it probably makes the state of origin for each of the acts a more reliable source of data for determining where the acts come from.

While it’s clear that has been a shift over the years to make BIGSOUND less of a local event and more of a national event, it has been at the expense of Queensland acts, with the focus of the event becoming less about being just a platform to showcase the state’s music and more about putting the spotlight on one of the country’s major musical conferences happening in Brisbane for three days.

(continues overleaf)

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