With our minds functioning and our bodies (mostly) recovered from Bigsound 2015, we can now definitively say what we think are the essential points to take away from the Keynotes of Bigsound. Jess Hopper of Pitchfork challenged the crowds to think clearly and look back on their actions to find a way forward for gender equality in the music industry, while Brother Ali spoke of the injustices suffered by racial minorities, Muslims and hip-hop artists daily. Bigsound played host to politically charged keynotes from professionals at the top of their game, and there is no doubt we all drew a lot from their time.
1. FEMINISM HAPPENS JUST AS MUCH IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AS IT DOES ANYWHERE ELSE.
Jess Hopper’s keynote featured tweets containing heartbreaking stories of women being subjected to the horrors of sexism while she spoke of her own personal experience in the industry, from her start at 16 to her role now as a Senior Editor at Pitchfork. Emotions were high as the seminar tore through the condescending defenses people use to protect perpetrators of sexism, and quite frankly, it was mind blowing. From female musicians being asked if they knew how to set their own instruments up, to assuming that girls backstage are groupies rather than musicians, and even over to the disgusting fact that men think they can grope women and get away with it, the music industry is rife with gender inequality and it must end. Watch Jess Hopper’s inspirational Keynote courtesy of TheMusic.com.au right here.
2. FOR US TO ABOLISH RACISM, WE NEED TO FORGET THAT WE ARE “WHITE”.
Thursday’s Keynotes were incredible, and Brother Ali’s was no exception. The way to help change the future of society and music is through people returning to their original identity that their forefathers first identified as. In essence, Brother Ali aims to abolish the idea of ‘whiteness’. This can be achieved through people looking at how they engage with their humanity. He even went so far as to say that all forms of modern rap, hip-hop, dance and other popular genres of music are copied and stolen from the original art forms created by the African-American community, and that we are essentially producing “vanilla, watered down” versions of the music, and the only way for musicians to start creating real content again is for them to assess their identity.
3. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PR TEAMS AND JOURNALISTS ARE CHANGING, DRAMATICALLY.
Now, more than ever, the power of Listicles has grown strong, and we find now that media powerhouses like Buzzfeed rely and thrive on giving their readers condensed lists. This change to journalistic style helps artists become much more personable, which helps engineer a connection between artist and fan. The relationship between PR and media outlets has changed also, the panel said, with PR agents generating content and bringing it to media outlets to premiere, rather than waiting for the journalists to do it themselves.
4. EVERY LABEL STARTS FROM NOTHING AND FINDS A NICHE TO FILL.
Each speaker at the Indie Label Seminar started their label due to a gap in the industry that they identified, and it all started for them with their core passion for supporting bands they believed in. It’s a hard task deciding if an artist is right for a label. Julia Wilson from Rice Is Nice values a band if the music is good, and they are available to chat and develop a closer relationship with the record label rather than delegating the role to their manager.