The ninth annual Bigsound summit made many of the right noises last week. The three-day confab gathered more than 560 delegates (up 100 from last year) for an intensive round of panels, networking and band-spotting. has selected some highlights:

The talking point: Michael Gudinski's opening day keynote. The Mushroom Group chairman was in fearsome form, dishing out the brickbats for those figures within government and commercial radio who didn't show full support for the music business. "I'm not having a crack at Peter Garrett. The guy's had a hard enough time and I've got a lot of respect for him," Gudinski said. "But if he feels compromised because he comes from a music background, and he's not going to help us, then piss off." An avowed supporter of the newly-elected Labor Government, Gudinski timed his words to perfection. Before the week was out, Simon Crean had inherited Garrett's arts portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle. Gudinski also set a Bigsound record for expletives.

The optimist: The spectre of music piracy just won't go away. But it's something we can learn to live with, panelists told delegates during a day-two piracy discussion. In the context of a global industry which has shrunk from an IFPI-reported value of $37 billion in 2000, to $17 billion in 2009, Universal Music Australia GM of marketing Tim Kelly won't lose faith. The industry's battle with the file-sharers was at a "tipping point" he said. "There is no win or lose, piracy isn't going to go away. There are degrees of piracy," Kelly noted, "but if we can tip the degree of piracy back a bit it's going to so great for everyone."

The bands: Brisbane's Fortitude Valley district was abuzz with the two-evening music program. Many of the 60-plus showcase artists are on the way up. Some, like Universal Music Australia-signed Megan Washington, are already up there -- her debut album "I Believe You Liar" enjoyed a top-three chart bow in August. Shows by the likes of Children Collide, the Jezabels, Hungry Kids Of Hungary, the Medics, Kyo and Dan Kelly didn't disappoint. This year, organizers tightened up the six-venue Bigsound circuit to enhance delegates' viewing options. "We've made it so tight that the two furthest corners, even if you'd had a skin-full, it will only take about three minutes," says Bigsound executive programmer Graham Ashton.

The road-kill: Perhaps the most candid of any panel, anywhere, was the day three "What goes on tour" session which laid bare the horrors and humility of life on the road. Cocaine binges, rock stars' bad behaviour, embarrassing on-stage toilet moments, and even the dark moments of crowd deaths were discussed by a panel of recording artists and touring personnel. Not for the faint hearted.

The closing note: Hometown hero Robert Forster was gifted the honor of wrapping-up the Bigsound 2010 conference. No doubt he'd rather have been home in bed. The Go-Betweens great clutched a box of tissues throughout his keynote Q&A, clearly feeling the effects of a cold. But he's soldiered on through much worse, namely when he lost his lifelong collaborator Grant McLennan in 2006 to a heart attack. Forster reflected on the pair's long creative relationship, and McLennan's ability to turn beautiful detail from his childhood into song. "He was a clever bastard," Forster explained.