Simon Napier-Bell, the celebrated author, filmmaker and artist manager, who guided the careers of Rock Hall inductee George Michael and Wham and introduced the duo to Chinese audiences for a historic 10-day visit in the mid-’80s, becoming the first Western pop act to do so, joins the lineup of speakers for Bigsound 2023.
The British allrounder’s addition to the daytime Bigsound program is a timely one, coming fresh off the release of the popular Netflix documentary Wham, in which he appears.
It was Napier-Bell who masterminded Michael and Andrew Ridgeley’s trip to China in 1985, a trailblazing moment that was captured for the documentary Wham! in China: Foreign Skies.
Across his colorful career, Napier-Bell, owner and CEO of music firm Pierbel Entertainment Group, has managed the likes of the Yardbirds, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Ultravox, T Rex, Marc Bolan, Japan, Asia, Candi Staton, Boney M and Sinéad O’Connor, and written four best-selling books, including 2001’s Black Vinyl White Powder.
International speakers at this year’s music industry summit include English composer Simon Franglen, Cockenflap Festival promoter Cora Chan, ATC Live’s Caitlin Ballard, FKP Scopio’s Silke Westera, president of FUGA / Downtown Christiaan Kröner, Patrick Daniel from Reeperbahn, and more.
Organized by trade body QMusic, Bigsound will boast more than 100 speakers, from international and national buyers, agents, music supervisors, bookers and “industry decision makers,” plus upwards of 140 showcasing acts from around the world.
“Whether it’s helping formalize a global partnership or simply putting acts in a room where they could discover a piece of advice that could transform their career,” comments QMusic chair Natalie Strijland, “Bigsound is 100% dedicated to creating an environment for artist change, and providing the best people to help make those changes happen.”
Previously announced speakers include Omar Grant, co-president of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and former road manager for Destiny’s Child; Michele Ronzon, A&R coordinator for Interscope / Geffen / A&M Records; Hazel Savage, the Australia-born London-based spearhead for AI business Musiio and now VP of music intelligence at Soundcloud; and others.
This year’s edition will be held Sept. 5 – 8 in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.
Earlier in the year, the Palaszczuk state government announced funding for Bigsound to the tune of nearly A$4 million over four years, a boost that comes as the Queensland capital gears-up for the 2032 Olympic Games.
Bigsound 2023 is presented by Brick Lane Brewing and independent ticketer Oztix, and supported by national youth broadcaster triple j.
Visit bigsound.org.au for more.