Bigsound 2021 won’t go ahead as planned.

As lockdowns persist across the country, keeping tens of millions of Australians tethered to the home and making interstate travel next-to impossible, organisers made the big call.

According to sources, Bigsound’s team reached out to its partners and suppliers early Monday to share the tough news.

The 20th anniversary of the conference and showcase event was set to take place September 7-9 in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, kicking off with the Indigeneous Showcase and Women in Music event.

Previously-announced headline speakers for this year’s edition have included #MeToo founder Tarana Burke and punk icon Henry Rollins.

The cancellation of Bigsound 2021 was confirmed in a statement issued Monday afternoon.

“Without our music mates in New South Wales and Victoria and no certain timeline as to when domestic borders will remain open, BIGSOUND 2021 wouldn’t be able to deliver on its promise to reunite the music community for three extraordinary days of connection, conversation, and music discovery,” said QMusic CEO Kris Stewart.

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It’s the second year Bigsound has made sweeping changes to its programme. In 2020, the event was pushed back by almost two months, and went ahead in a condensed COVIDsafe format, spread over two days and nights from Oct. 21.

In a typical year, Bigsound would welcome industry reps from across the country, and abroad, including A&R, agents, promoters, music supervisors, buyers and, of course, hundreds of performing artists and crew.

“As 2021 marks Bigsound’s 20th anniversary,” adds Stewart, who recently joined QMusic in the top job, “we are committed to coming through the unpredictable and relentless nature of COVID to celebrate this significant milestone with something special later this year, so watch this space for more to be revealed in the coming months.”

One element of the 2021 conference will go ahead. Little BLAKSOUND, a 100% First Nations youth-led music conference presented by Digi Youth Arts (DYA), will proceed on Sept. 6.

Bigsound is organised by QMusic, which is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, the Australian Government through the Australia Council, and APRA AMCOS

Ticket holders and artist application fees for Bigsound 2021 will be refunded in the coming weeks.