Justine Dunsmore's role in helping bring us some of our biggest festivals | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Justine Dunsmore's role in helping bring us some of our biggest festivals

Justine Dunsmore is nonchalant about rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s biggest music stars. But her initial experience working in the music industry wasn’t so casual – feeling overwhelmed after a long day, she arrived home in tears.

Reflecting on this years later, Justine puts it down to placing too much pressure on herself.

“I was probably a bit of a hot mess in my first-year volunteering at the Caloundra Music Festival,” Justine says.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself because the guys who were running the show were the same age as me – it made me start wondering what the hell I was doing with my life.”

But one of the biggest factors that contributed to Justine’s state of mind was – amidst the fast-paced and chaotic environment of working at a music festival – she was asked to do a relatively simple task: adjust a drum seat.

“I had no idea how to do it,” Justine says.

Instead of going straight home that night, she tracked down a drum kit and – in those late-night hours – worked out how it fit together.

The rest of her volunteering experience at the festival turned around from that point onwards. She felt more confident. But more importantly, she spent more time observing, learning and helping where she could.

Organisers and other workers noticed her passion – to the point she’s now employed in these roles, working and helping stage manage major events such as Grooving the Moo, Laneway, Big Sound, the Caloundra Music Festival and Horizon Fest; and she’s been employed by the AMPED Light Industry Music Project, where she attends industry workshops, rehearsals, performances and showcases.

Crowd shot at Laneway 2024, where Justine was working (Photo by Marc Grimwade for Getty Images)

Through her work, Justine’s rubbed shoulders with acclaimed artists such as Bruno Mars, Sneaky Sound System and FINNEAS – a singer/songwriter in his own right but also brother to the enigmatic and acclaimed Billie Eilish.

For the most part she’s indifferent about seeing these big names up close – except when it comes to the last two.

“I didn’t get to meet FINNEAS when he played at Laneway,” Justine says. “But I was standing pretty close to him. “It was a bit of highlight for me, which is sad considering I didn’t even get to meet him.”

However, talking with Justine, it’s clear she loves the work more so than meeting stars. When pressed about what it’s like working in the green room or backstage, Justine is clear that she’d prefer to be where the action is happening.

“I think there's a lot of hype around green room,” she says. “But when you’re working in them, it’s very different. It’s actually pretty rare that you’d even see an artist in there – it’s mostly tech crew and stage managers. I'd rather be where it's busy and bustling.”

That action and excitement is what enticed Justine into the music industry in the first place.

“I’ve never wanted to make my own music,” she says. “But when I started learning about live sound at uni, I realised I loved it – I knew that was what I wanted to do.”

Contemporary Music senior lecturer Dr Andy Ward agrees, saying a Music degree isn’t just for performing artists.

“Our students learn about all the facets of the modern music industry,” he says. “Apart from learning to record and use all the latest gear in our new studio spaces, we teach students about music management, intellectual property, public relations and agency operations.

“The degree is valuable to anyone who’s interested in working in music.”

Justine says one of the best aspects about the degree is the industry connections she’s made through the staff and students at UniSC.

“The opportunities that have been presented to me have been amazing,” she says.

“This degree pushes people out of their comfort zones – it makes us cover areas we wouldn’t normally think about: business, photography, video – all of it.”

Bachelor of Music

Taught by award-winning industry professionals and recording artists, this degree builds your creative, technical, performance and entrepreneurial skills to prepare you for a dynamic career.

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