Festival lineups remain sexist

In 2022 we continue to ask whether there is enough female representation in festival lineups...

Poppy Bedford
14th November 2022
Credit: Facebook @Leeds Festival
Festival lineups have recently been released for the next year and, as well as the ticket prices rising again, it has sparked debate about representation in the music industry and whether or not female artists are still being outnumbered in live performances.

Earlier this year, BBC Newsbeat published a story about festival performers and found that only 13% of performers were women. Out of the 200 headline acts for the 2022 festival season only 26 were slots held by solo women artists or all-female bands, 12% were mixed-gender groups, while non-binary acts make up just 0.5% of festival headliners. Compared to solo and all-male bands accounting for 74.5% percent of headline sets at festivals this past summer.

These statistics were shocking as they neither represent the larger population or the music scene as a whole with 36.1% of music artists being women and 63.9% of music artists being men. This is worsened by the fact that female artists are only paid 84 pence for every pound made by men in the industry.

Female artists are only paid 84 pence for every pound made by men in the industry

This article made waves over the summer as people realised the underrepresentation of women at concerts and live music. A connection was made that the artists playing usually represent the fans and that women and gender non-conforming people have been increasingly unsafe at live music venues and festivals.

Cambridge festival, Strawberries & Creem, is cited as an example of a promoter achieving gender parity on their line up and their CEO, Chris Jammer, stated "It really translates to the audience, so women and girls and non-binary people feel more comfortable there, and it just resonates” and "We didn't seem to struggle at all getting really high-profile females on our line-up… that was something we set our agenda to at the beginning of the booking process and carried it through."

"We didn't seem to struggle at all getting really high-profile females on our line-up"

Chris JammER, ceo of strawberries and creem

Paul Reed, CEO of the UK Association of Independent Festivals, claimed that the problem exists in "the wider music industry ecosystem," and "festivals can be somewhat of an easy target for this… they are annual events and they do publish their entire line-ups very visually on a poster." Reed is commenting on the gender gap at festivals and how advertising for festivals often leaves a lot to be desired as male names take precedence over female ones. This is especially clear in some adverts from this summer, Latitude, for example, had Maggie Roger’s name underneath the all-male headliner's Lewis Capaldi, Foals and Snow Patrol.

Whether or not these trends will persist into next year’s festivals is yet to be seen, however, it seems likely. This is not an issue that will be solved in under a year and, with festivals becoming more expensive and profitable than ever, doesn’t seem to be an issue organisers need to fix, however, there is hope that the 13% threshold of last year will be beaten and that, with time and dedication, festivals will become a safer more inclusive place.

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