THE music business is riddled with peaks and troughs.
To survive this crazy game, it's as much about riding out the inevitable droughts of creativity and public interest, as knowing when to capitalise on slivers of opportunity when they arise.
Right now, Newcastle country singer-songwriter Max Jackson can hear opportunity knocking. She plans to seize it by the horns.
Earlier this week Jackson was unveiled as the face of the 52nd Tamworth Country Music Festival as its ambassador.
Tamworth Country Music Festival manager Barry Harley explained that Jackson offers, "a refreshing and contemporary approach to Australian country music."
The bubbly Jackson is ecstatic with the opportunity.
"I absolutely love making social media content, so it's a really fun job for me because we're gonna be showcasing lots of what's going on at the festival and hopefully bringing in lots of families to experience it for the first time," Jackson says.
Jackson then received two Golden Guitar nominations - for Best New Talent (for a consecutive year) and Female Artist of the Year - for her EP Out Here to solidify her position as one of the rising stars in Australian country music.
She's faces stiff competition in the Best Female category against former winner Fanny Lumsden, Ashleigh Dallas, Kaylee Bell and Melanie Dyer.
"They're all my friends, which is a really nice thing as we get to share in the excitement together," she says.
These nominations followed the 31-year-old's career-changing 2022 Starmaker victory in Tamworth.
After scrapping her way through the Talent Development Project and The Academy of Country Music and honing her craft on the touring circuit, Starmaker gave her an overnight boost.
"If you look at the list of people who have won previously, it's one of those things that you win and then the next day you're walking down the street in Tamworth and people know who you are and some of your songs," she says.
"It's like this instant gratification from the Starmaker team and it also makes people notice you, which is the coolest thing.
"We all dream to have our songs and messages heard. To win that and the next day to feel that difference is such a cool thing."
Starmaker allowed Jackson to travel to Nashville in 2022 to work with Australian songwriters Phil Barton (Lee Brice, Lee Kernaghan) and Kylie Sackley (Keith Urban, LeAnn Rimes, Faith Hill) on a batch of songs which would appear on Out There.
Tracks like Someone in a Small Town, written about her childhood home of Coonamble in central western NSW, showcased Jackson's talent for producing sparkly country-pop embed with deep sentiment.
"That was a really special song for me," she says. "It's actually written about Coonamble, so it's really close to my heart.
"It's about where I grew up and what made me what I am today was growing up in that community."
Following the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Jackson plans to start recording a new album.
It'll be her first with label support, after she inked a deal with ABC Music and joined Stephen White Management (Lee Kernaghan, The Wolfe Brothers) a month ago.
"It's one of those things that you work work away, and then all of a sudden, a bunch of things fall into place at once," she says.
Max Jackson will play the Family Hotel in Tamworth on January 25.