QMusic Connect Heads To SPARK Ipswich's Waghorn To West For Another Free Serving Of Music Industry Knowledge

Ruby-Jean McCabe is the Project Officer at QMusic as well as BIGSOUND's Co-Programmer.
National Music Editor, based in Brisbane, Australia.
'Passionate about true crime docos, the Swannies, golf and sleep, I’ve been writing about music for 20-plus years. What I’ve learnt? There’s two types of music – good and bad.’

Currently the Project Officer at QMusic as well as BIGSOUND's Co-Programmer, and with close to a decade's experience in the music industry, Ruby-Jean McCabe is a music industry professional any emerging or established artist, or person looking for a career behind the scenes, should stop and listen to.

Ruby-Jean will be part of a special QMusic Connect panel that travels to Ipswich next weekend as part of SPARK Ipswich's Waghorn To West live music event. The best part? It's absolutely free. Though spots are limited.

Connect with industry leaders and like-minded people while you soak up the knowledge, advice and experience shared by the music industry experts.

The panel includes Luke Peacock (performing artist and grant assessor at Australia Council), John Mullen (Head of A&R and Executive Producer at Dew Process Records), Ruby-Jean McCabe, and Scott Maughan (accountant at LineCheck Accounting). Plus a special mini keynote and performance from artist Clea.

Tell us a bit about your background in the music industry elevator-pitch style?
I’ve been working in music for the past eight years. Over those years, I've worked as a venue booker (The Zoo, Black Bear Lodge, The Milk Factory, Eat Street Markets), assistant booking agent (New World Artists), festival volunteer coordinator (Laneway Festival); and currently as an artist manager (Bugs, Hope D, VOIID), QAGOMA Up Late co-programmer, Project Officer (QMusic) and BIGSOUND Festival Co-Programmer.

What does your role as QMusic's Project Officer entail?
My role is a bit of a catch-all at QMusic; primarily I work alongside Dom Miller in programming and industry development.

We deliver the QMusic Connect industry development programme, facilitate the application, judging, scoring and event delivery of the Queensland Music Awards, as well as the Billy Thorpe Scholarship, Levi's Music Prize, Grant McLennan Fellowship and Carol Lloyd Award. Dom and I are Co-Programmers of the showcase side of BIGSOUND, and I am the artist liaison pre-event and on-ground.

As the programming team we are also available to offer support and guidance to our members and Queensland artists. My typical day involves multiple Google sheets, Zoom meetings, Excel spreadsheets and emails, emails, emails.

You're part of a special QMusic Connect panel as part of SPARK Ipswich’s Waghorn To West event – who is this workshop designed for; who will get the most benefit by attending?
Anyone from emerging industry and musicians to established. I think it's important to learn and hear different perspectives and experiences at all points in your career.

Even if you are thinking you may be past a certain level there is always something to take away. I personally have many times when attending workshops that QMusic host. My peers in the industry are so knowledgeable and willing to share; if anything it's a great community-building experience.

What aspects of the music industry will be discussed and how interactive will the session be?
There will be sessions on grant writing, A&R, finances, live performance and touring, a mini keynote from the amazing Clea (who is also performing later that night). As well as a roundtable session where participants will have the opportunity to get some one-on-one time with the panellists to really ask specific questions relating to their careers.

This workshop is aimed at artists and musicians in the Ipswich area, which often unfairly gets a bad rep within the community and media; from your experiences, how vibrant and talented is the Ipswich arts-music scene?
It's a shame that this perception of Ipswich is out there – people are doing some amazing things in the area.

Brittney Kahl and her co-workers at the Council have been growing the scene for many years and really cultivating an environment where local musicians and industry have space to thrive. It's definitely an outdated view that is becoming redundant due to the hard work of local game changers.

Given the COVID reality we all face – for the foreseeable future as well – how important is it for young musicians to take control of their career early on to map a path to long-term sustainability?
It's incredibly important for musicians to expand their knowledge of the industry at any point in their career.

Often artists will rush into relationships with managers or labels without really taking the time to understand what those roles entail and how they interrelate with their career. Working as a professional musician is a business fundamentally, so it's integral for artists to have a basic knowledge of these roles in order to have a good standard of expectations.

In my opinion this plays heavily in to long-term sustainability as an artist. Educate yourself as best you can and KNOW YOUR WORTH!

When it comes to the music industry, often talent and amazing songs don't equal success – what are a couple of areas indie artists can focus on to create more meaningful relationships and connections?
Something that all of the artists I represent do really well is have real genuine rapport with their fans.

They really care about the people that follow their journey and work hard on maintaining connection with them personally. They have all created groundswell within their own community, which at a point is hard for the industry at large to ignore.

Take the time to reply to DMs or create a Facebook group or Patreon for fans, offer them special insight into your experiences as an artist, maybe even limited edition merch or previews of your next single. Keeping audiences in the fold and taking them along for the ride really fosters those meaningful relationships. The industry will follow wherever there is organic buzz.

As well as your role at QMusic you manage three emerging, talented acts in Bugs, Hope D and VOIID – what's a free piece of advice you can share to indie acts from the experiences you've had as a band manager?
As I mentioned before know your worth, trust your gut, ask questions, expand your knowledge of the industry, stay curious; comparing yourself to others will never produce anything positive, and sustain that spark.

Things are tough at the moment and it's hard to maintain perspective at times. It's always good to look back and reflect on your achievements, even if it is just making the decision to take your craft from a hobby to a career. That's huge.  

What's the most rewarding aspects of being part of the indie music scene?
Building community, network and friendships with my peers and clients. The music industry is like no other. It's hard to relate to if you are an outsider, so having these relationships with people is really integral to me.

Being able to ask advice or just talk something out with my peers is so vital – it can be a very isolating job, so I'm very lucky to have a great community around me to lean on if needed.

Thanks for your time; anything else you'd like to add?
If you are in the position to do so, get out there and support our industry and artists. Go to shows, buy some merch, stream your favourite songs. Artists need our support right now – everything helps.

QMusic Connect takes place at Studio 188 (Ipswich) 10 July 10am-2pm.

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