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Festival Line-Ups: Where Are The Women?

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  • Festival Line-Ups: Where Are The Women?

    We’re bang right in the middle of festival season where we celebrate another year of sunshine (fingers crossed with this British weather!), marvellous music and… sexism?

    The music industry has always been notoriously bad at gender equality. From the lack of females working in the music industry, both on and off stage, to winning big-name awards such as the GRAMMYs and the BRIT award, the business still seems to be old-fashioned and haven’t get caught up that we are now a society of equality.

    According to the PRS foundation website, “Across the participating countries’ collecting societies, women represent 20% or less of registered composers and songwriters.”

    In fact, Caitlin Kelly from Forbes writes “women make up 21.7% of artists, 12.3% of songwriters and 2.1% of producers.”

    However, the industry at the moment is currently being dominated by female artist yet this is not reflected in the festival line-ups. Taylor Swift has been named the world’s highest entertainers in Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list, Ariana Grande is killing the charts right now, breaking records for her album, Thank U, Next, selling over 360,000 units, marking the biggest debut of the year thus far to becoming just the second artist in the chart's 60-year history to occupy the top three spots on the Hot 100 simultaneously and Beyoncé recently signed a $60 million Netflix deal and blessed the world with her Homecoming documentary, the first of a rumour three-part special deal.

    But these are just three huge female names in a sea of male performers.

    Last year, Pitchfork noted that only 19% of festival line-ups where women, a 5% up YOY, but still not enough.

    Singer-songwriter Lily Allen pointed out that last year, Wireless festival only had three women in their line-up: Mabel, Cardi B and Lisa Mercedez

    Keychange, a pioneering international initiative, is encouraging transformation within not only the festival landscape, but the music industry as a whole. They hope by 2022, we will be at the stage where we will see a “50:50 in line-ups of popular music festivals”

    This year we have seen a rise in more and more females being included into the line-ups. If you follow the Twitter profile Book More Women, you will be able to see how many women make up this years  festival’s line-ups, and see who gets called out for not featuring enough of a mix!

    For example, this year’s Glastonbury, 48% of the line-up were women, a huge improvement from previous years and a leader of example.

    2019 will be the first time a female will front Lollapalooza festival in Chicago. Ariana Grande’s name features first on the poster and will take to the stage in August as a headliner at the event. Her name is followed by a long list of male artists, Childish Gambino, Twenty One Pilots, The Strokes, Tame Impala but no other women.

    It seems that the bigger the festival, the more change seems to be apparent, which is absolutely a great thing! However, this is only a small victory and we need to work harder for equality across not only festivals, but all aspects of this industry.

    The struggle is still real.