Brown Bear Entertainment (BBE) is the touring and event company behind most of your favourite shows in recent memory. BBE is run by power couple Jess and Anand Krishnaswamy who recently celebrated its fourth birthday. In their relatively short time on the Australian music scene they’ve toured huge international talent while still highlighting local Australian acts. Because of BBE we’ve been blessed with live shows from the likes of Kaytranada, Skepta, Flosstradamus, Metro Boomin, Tkay Maidza, and many, many more. Having recently sold out their second Hordern Pavilion show for RL Grime, the time was right to sit down with Jess and find out just why Metro Boomin trusts them.
How did BBE get started?
We were sitting around my Mum’s kitchen table. It was not a strategically planned step; we just got to a point where we thought we could probably start a little touring company for ourselves… We’re truly passionate about music and about fostering incredible careers for the artists we love in AUS and NZ. Little did either of us know where it would be four years later.
How many people are in the team these days?
We have a small and incredibly hardworking team: four in Sydney, three in Brisbane, and then great partners in other places (like NZ), and key team additions for the team specifically around and for FOMO. At FOMO time the team grows to 15 or so. It’s rad having that energy around.
Did you ever imagine the company would be where it is today?
Oh gosh no! I still struggle with the concept that it isn’t just a tiny thing anymore. We created this thing, and grew it from absolutely nothing but I still think it’s just us who are passionate about it. But it’s so humbling to see how many kids out there who support what we do.
Over the next few weeks you’ve got RL Grime, Motez, and YehMe2 shows coming up, plus you’re working on FOMO festival. What’s the buzz in the office at the moment?
Oh man we are hard at it right now and working long hours to make sure this RL Grime tour is the most epic thing ever. RL and his team are debuting a brand new, never before seen show that’s made especially for Aus/NZ. We can’t wait for everyone to see it. Then it’s YehMe2 and Motez who are easily two of the most beloved artists, and amazing human beings. Those shows are set to be super fun and sold out. After that it’s the big one, prepping our FOMO 2018 announcement. We’re so pumped about the line-up and we can’t wait to get it out there.
You obviously have an eye for seeing music talent at the very early stages. How are you guys so on point?
There is no secret really, we just live and breathe music on a daily basis. It’s a constant discussion in our office and you can feel it when there is buzz on an act. It’s not exactly quantifiable in the same way for each act.
Have you noticed any changes over the last four years in the live music scene in Australia?
A few markets in Australia have definitely become tougher to sell tickets in… Lockouts in places like New South Wales and Queensland have changed and will continue to change both those markets (and not for the better), which is a real shame.
I think our biggest lesson is that nothing is a given, just because you sold out a show in a venue for a specific genre of act once doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do it again. It keeps us striving hard and constantly reassessing our product, offering, and position. We never want to become stale. We always want to keep pushing boundaries and have kids be genuinely excited by what we do.
FOMO festival is one of the only festivals in Australia that runs one stage so there are no clashes. Can you tell us how FOMO evolved and was that the idea from the very beginning?
All we wanted to do with FOMO was bring the festival experience back to basics… We thought about all the things we hated about bigger festivals, the logistics about getting around (you often spend longer getting to where you’re going that actually doing anything concrete), constantly losing your mates, running around and seeing only two minutes of everything but no act in a complete and enjoyable sense. By removing the overwhelming choice, and keeping it simple the FOMO punter can just enjoy a day with their mates, see and enjoy each act entirely, and be much more in the moment.
What can we expect from FOMO 2018?
Oh man, the line-up is huge… And we’re bringing a special nighttime edition to Melbourne for the first time on January 11 so we’re super excited about that.
If you could give any advice to others trying to make it in the music industry what would it be?
If you love to party and that’s all you’re keen on, then a music industry job is not for you long term. It’s not glamorous at all. It’s a heap of hard work, late nights, and sacrificing your personal life to do it. So if you have the commitment, drive and passion then you’ll get the most out of it but be prepared to work.