Week in the Life Of: Ruby-Jean McCabe

From intern and university graduate to Co-programmer of BIGSOUND 2020 and project officer at QMusic, it’s Ruby-Jean McCabe for another Week in the Life Of. Ruby completed her bachelor of Music Business Management at JMC Academy in 2014 and then went on to intern at Bluebeard Music. Eventually, this led to a full time role where she became an artist manager (Bugs) and venue booking agent for renowned local venues The Zoo, Black Bear Lodge, The Milk Factory among others. From there Ruby went on to work for national artist booking agency New World Artists. So far Ruby has excelled in her music career, taking every opportunity as it comes, and persisting with volunteer roles right to the point of becoming the Brisbane volunteer coordinator of St Jerome’s Laneway Festival for six years. 

As you could probably determine, working on a festival means every week is going to be a little different, and one more step towards the final product. With BIGSOUND being just over two months away now, we caught up with Ruby right in the middle of a very important and key part of programming the festival. 

Now, over to you Ruby!

A job description in your own words

I am the BIGSOUND Festival co-programmer alongside Dom Miller, I also work within the programming team for QMusic. At the moment I am constantly switching out my QMusic and BIGSOUND hats out throughout the day. Things are always in a fluid state of flux, so no day is spent primarily on one job or the other. Curve balls are a regular occurrence with both of my roles, but that’s what makes things spicy, who wants to have a mild job anyway?! Outside of these roles I also manage the most wholesome boys in Brisbane, Bugs

Thinking about starting your career in management? Check out our artist management course here. 

Wednesday 29th July

With my QMusic hat on this morning, applications for our Womxn In Music QMxntoring program closed overnight. This is a project I’m very excited about, so seeing the calibre and amount of applicants that have come in is a very nice way to start the day. Dom and I had our weekly catch up with the marketing team, these meetings are spent going through all of QMusic’s programs as well as BIGSOUND and catching the respective team up on everything we are doing. It’s super imperative that the marketing and programming teams maintain a high level of communication because we work so closely together. A lot of the rest of the day was spent listening to BIGSOUND artist applications (this is one of the true fun parts of the job). Listening to music all day and reading about artist plans, aspirations and dreams is pretty spesh. 

Marketing doesn’t always have to be a dirty word, have fun with our Marketing and PR course now. 

Thursday 30th July

This morning Dom and I have jumped right into a couple of pressing BIGSOUND things (writing a proposal, updated spreadsheets – just a bit of admin) before our weekly BIGSOUND meeting with the wider team. These usually go for an hour and a half or so, as you can understand we always have a lot to discuss, especially with the ever changing climate due to venue restrictions, border closures and social distancing regulations). The rest of the day I spent listening to and reading BIGSOUND 2020 artist applications. 

Friday 31st July

I had a couple of meetings to start the day this morning, some specifically BIGSOUND and some with my QMusic programming hat on. After lunch my main priority was my inbox – I have a bunch of emails to catch up on from yesterday as I spent most of my time on BIGSOUND applications. A little bit of housekeeping and email filing never hurt anyone on a Friday afternoon right? It’s not glamorous but necessary and kind of therapeutic (I’m saying this more to convince myself that it’s good for me, like going to the dentist or eating your veggies).  

Monday 3rd August

This morning is a usual Monday morning, catching up on emails sent over the weekend (we had a mammoth number of BIGSOUND artist applications which is GREAT). I have a few admin tasks to do this morning with my QMusic hat on, creating PO requests for our finance manager, updating spreadsheets, filing emails – just the fun stuff 🙂 After lunch I ripped right back into listening to BIGSOUND applications. They close tomorrow so we generally get a lot through in the last 2 days. 

Tuesday 4th August

This morning was a bit of a change of pace for us here; we had a professional development session with the whole team. This is the last day of BIGSOUND applications being open so there is always a little bit of buzz around the office. Lots of activity, calls, email enquiries etc. I spent the afternoon right back in the depths of BIGSOUND applications (hoooo boy they are piling in today). We also had Dom’s dog, Willow as programming assistant / stress reliever / badass office dawg so this was also nice. 

Want to play at BIGSOUND next year but don’t know where to start? Check out our How To Apply for Festivals course now!

Challenges and accomplishments in your week

Challenges at the moment are definitely trying to adapt and strategise for a constantly changing world environment. Trying to be one step ahead of this pandemic is pretty tough, but we just have to keep on pushing. 

Accomplishments kind of tie directly into solving the problems that my challenges create. Also getting my inbox to zero emails is always a huge win in my eyes :). 

Highlights of the week (pros of the job)

Definite pro is being able to work alongside Dom in both the QMusic programming team and as a co-programmer of BIGSOUND Festival. We have worked together for many years outside of our roles here so we are a well-oiled machine. His jokes are also great 95% of the time so that’s a plus too. 

Lowlights of the week (cons of the job)

There are very few cons that are worth listing here, the late nights and early mornings are all worth it to me in the end. I have a great job in music, what’s not to love?!  

– Words of wisdom for people considering a job in your field

  • Listen
  • Volunteer ( I volunteered at BIGSOUND 2013 – 2015 and now I’m part of the programming team!)
  • Know your worth and stick up for your beliefs
  • Be kind
  • Be hungry 
  • Be respectful 
  • Adaptation and flexibility are key


Another classic way to get your foot in the door is networking! Check out our tips on how to network like a professional.

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