The countdown is well and truly on for the second annual FastForward: Sydney, which today unveils its latest batch of speakers and locks-in its daytime programme with the return of the hackathon.

The brainchild of former EMI U.K. executive Chris Carey, FastForward: Sydney will take place across two days from April 11 at the Aerial Function Centre within UTS, Sydney, and features 40 local and international speakers.

Organisers on Wednesday announced fresh names to its lineup, including Helen Marcou (Bakehouse Studios/SLAM), Renee Hermsen (Promoter, Live Nation), Simon Cahill (VP Partnerships + Audience Management, Warner Music Group) Melody Forghani (twntythree music), Mel Cheng (One Louder), Keith Tan (CD Baby, Singapore), Jackie Antas (GM Communications, Live Nation ANZ) and Poppy Reid (Managing Editor, The Brag Media).

poppy reid
Poppy Reid. Credit: Stewart Munro

Warner’s Cahill will log double-duty. He’ll back up for the “Can We Hack It” judging panel, alongside event co-organiser Vanessa Picken (Comes with Fries, Australia), Takayuki Suzuki (ParadeALL, Japan), Julie Knibbe (Soundcharts, France), Jeff Bronikowski (Warner Music Group,USA), Kate Burleigh (Amazon Alexa Skills, Australia) and Chris Carey (Media Insight Consulting, UK).

From this Friday (March 29), the smartest kids on the block are invited to compete in the hack-fest, which sets the challenge of creating a “voice experience” with Alexa Skills to “enhance consumer experience.”

That’s a full 10 days to create a new skill for music fans, whether it’s “discovery, rediscovery, curation or any other innovation combining voice and music.”

Speaking on the lucrative contest, Carey says, “Music search has always been challenging. Describing music in words isn’t easy. I like the beat, the tone of her voice, the rhythm. It can mean such different things to different people.

“And bringing together the leaders in voice recognition with a community of developers and a community of music industry – not in San Francisco, not in London, not in Berlin but in Australia – I’m really excited to see what innovation comes out of it.”

Hacker entries close before midnight on April 7 and the lucky champ takes home $5,000, an Amazon Echo and the opportunity to present their winning effort to the industry at FastForward: Sydney. To register and read on, visit

roger field lars brandle
Live Nation’s Roger Field and TIO’s Lars Brandle at FastForward: Sydney 2018

As previously reported, guests at this year’s summit will be treated to panels and keynote sessions exploring many of the industry’s hot button topics, from the future of labels, playlists, government policy and the arts, and data, while Carey will kick things off with his traditional “state of the industry” opener.

Speakers across the two days include Dean Ormston (CEO, APRA AMCOS), Dee Speed (Design Director, Google), Heidi Lenffer of Cloud Control), James Fleury (Founder and CEO, Nouvague), Takayuki Suzuki (ParadeALL), Julie Knibbe (VP Product, Soundcharts) and Luke Girgis (CEO, The Brag Media).

Tickets are on sale now for $225. Earlybird rates apply. For more, visit