Let BIGSOUND’s 2018 lineup be an example for every Australian festival

It’s fantastic to be working in a time when diversity and representation have become so important. But there’s a tendency, when an issue like this is at the fore, to pass over the ones who are doing things right.

Calling out negative, backwards or even unintentionally troublesome behaviour is extremely important – but so is shining a light on those who do uphold the values you want your industry to meet.

Which is why we’re applauding BIGSOUND for putting together one of the most phenomenal lineups we’ve seen in 2018. For an event that claims to shape the next wave of musical talent in Australia, this couldn’t be more essential.

bigsound lineup 2018

Quietly, BIGSOUND have built a lineup that represents everything the music industry should be fighting for in 2018.

Let’s take a look at BIGSOUND 2018 (by our count).

  • A total of 148 acts have been invited to play.
  • 61 acts have an all-male lineup.
  • 84 acts have at least one female member.
  • 79 acts are fronted by females.
  • 61 acts are fronted by males.

Outside of events such as Electric Lady or Sad Grrrls Fest which were specially curated as all-female/trans/non-binary bills, seeing more female-fronted acts than male remains a rare sighting in Australia. Not that it doesn’t exist – and not that we aren’t on an upward curve for like-minded events.

Here you’re looking at 84 bands and artists with at least one female member (in a few cases the whole band – don’t miss VOIID, CLEWS, Erthlings, Oh Pep!, and Pink Matter to name a few) from all over Australia, playing at the national industry’s biggest music conference. That’s 84 artists waiting to be booked at the next gig or festival you put on.

Female solo artists are especially well represented on the lineup, with acts such as Carla Geneve, G Flip, Gabriella CohenCLYPSOGeorgia Mulligan, and a whole lot more playing the summit.

Here’s it’s worth mentioning that the four recipients of last year’s Levi’s Music Prize were Alex Lahey, Hatchie, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, and Stella Donnelly. After watching three amazing female solo artists take on BIGSOUND 2017 and kill it, we’re already watching an inspired next wave take charge.

While we’re in a state of flux where calling out problematic lineups is necessary, you as a fan can do your part by heading to the events which promote a more accepting future for Australian music. Show your appreciation – endorse the shows worth endorsing. Sometimes a pat on the back is far more powerful than a slap on the wrist.

The industry is a much more welcoming place for women than it used to be and there’s still plenty of progress to be made. But let’s not forget the road we’ve travelled – thanks in no small part to events like BIGSOUND. As Ruby Fields, who played last year’s festival, put it when we interviewed her last week:

“…the kind of argument I always make is women have, unfortunately, just been left behind in everything because… at one point in time we weren’t allowed to do it when men were. So we’re catching up!”

If we’re to take BIGSOUND 2018 as prophecy for the next 12 months of Australian music, it’s a future we’re very much looking forward to.


Check out the full BIGSOUND 2018 lineup on their website, and grab your tickets to the festival here.