Intro To The Dude You Never Knew Was Behind Australia’s Biggest Festivals

Produced in association with our mates at Ray-Ban.

Since the tender age of 15, when he was out and about trying his hand at promo and sales for underage events, John Curtin has been all about that youth marketing, promotions, event management and social media life.

Nowadays John is the Brand Manager for Totem Onelove – an SFX Entertainment company who owns/produces one of Australia’s biggest music festivals Stereosonic and organises some of the biggest tours throughout the year – who consistently get amongst it with club nights, touring and a successful music label.

And, FYI if you’re into the idea of a big ol’ BBQ jam, John is also one of the organisers of the inaugural Melbourne Barbecue Festival – supported by the Kansas City Barbeque Society – which will be launching February 2015. Having done all of these impressive things, and in the spirit of The Order of Never Hide, we figured old mate was prime for some spotlight and a Q&A all about making it in music and a few of his favourite things. 

Given your history and the journey you’ve taken to where you are now, what are your thoughts on job training and hands-on learning versus uni?

University wasn’t for me when I finished school, I worked for a few nightclubs, travelled, worked with an internet company and learnt a lot. Then decided to go back to uni when I was 26 and completed a Bachelor of Communications (Business). I think both are great, the ideas/networks from universities you can create are fantastic but you can’t beat learning on the go. A lot of the staff we hire work on a multitude of projects outside of their job descriptions but excel quickly because of that.


To date what has been the biggest learning experience for you?

Probably working with a great team of people that are passionate in their fields and forming a group that created amazing festivals, tours etc. There were so many different skill sets involved from marketing, touring, digital, operations, administration, design et cetera and it was great.

What personality trait should you have to go far in the music industry?

Be optimistic, imaginative, meticulous and actually have a passion for what you do. If you don’t then it will show pretty quickly.

What’s one lie you were told starting out in the business?

No one said that promoters stopped getting paid after bringing in 200 people – I was promoting a night and my deal stopped at 200 people. Ha!

What’s your dream collab/gig/partnership that you’d love to be a part of?

I really admire the hospitality service and professionalism of Noah Tepperberg and the team at Marquee in Vegas/NYC, for their “can do” attitude and vibe of a party. LAVO Brunch in NYC is my fav party I have ever been to.

Maurice Terzini at Icebergs for his amazing food experiences and venues, Nick Demkiw for his design work and clothing label AUTONOMY and the Onelove guys for putting together amazing events. Not sure exactly what we would all do together, but no doubt it would be great!

via Autonomy Clothing.

What do you predict for the future of the Australian festival scene?

Think it will continue to be a part of the 18-25 generation, music changes but Australians love to congregate and have a great time. Technology will enhance the experience with MasterCard offering payless solutions et cetera for bars.

If you could crowd fund one crazy/amazing large scale project what would it be?

Would be great to work on a local charity and get people to donate $1 per week but on a state and national level. There are a lot of global issues to tackle, but Australia is such an amazing country and we have a lot of our own such as Indigenous Health, one-punch violence, drugs in society and illiteracy, that we could be raising $10 million a week for and actually seeing some improvements.

What are your top festivals from around the world?

Tomorrowland, for its sheer size and production/talent and Creamfields, one of the pioneers in this space.

Tomorrowland, Belgium. Photo via Getty AFP.

What’s the most ridiculous rider you’ve ever experienced?

Nothing too out of the ordinary, maybe some specific types of tea or large vodka orders in the same rider, which didn’t really make sense 🙂

What’s the most amazing festival moment you’ve ever had?

Stereosonic. The first one was so raw and crazy with 12,000 attendees and a limited artist/production budget, and then our shows now that have over 60,000 people attend per day. 


Have you ever had any weird moments with punters finding out you’re the one responsible for their favourite music festivals? What’s the first question people tend to ask ?

Not really, some people are certainly interested and have some great questions, few others suddenly gain interest and ask for a ticket. Then a few are die hard fans of a certain act and want to meet them. So, mainly, ‘how do you deal with five shows over two weekends?’ or ‘can I get a free ticket/meet Calvin Harris?’.

Calvin Harris by Ethan Miller.

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