MUSICnGEAR, Europe’s leading music equipment recommendation platform, has unveiled its latest research on music festivals in the United Kingdom and the results show a vast difference between male and female representation.
The research found that female solo artists only accounted for 25 per cent of total billing across six leading festivals, whilst all-female groups were severely underrepresented at just 1.9 per cent of total billing.
The research looked at six leading festivals (Bestival, Boardmasters, Boomtown, Cambridge Folk Festival, Creamfields, and Reading/Leeds Festival) taking place across the United Kingdom in August 2018. The festivals were chosen for their variety of different genres and audiences.
Male solo acts represented a massive 67.1 per cent of the line-up for this year’s Creamfields Festival, which takes places from 23-26 August, versus just 9.2 per cent solo females. The dance festival also had zero bands featuring women. Bestival festival saw just one all-female band on its line-up this year, whilst for solo performers it saw a 42.4 per cent male and 21.5 per cent female divide.
Reading and Leeds Festivals, taking place 24-26 August, saw all-male bands taking up 38.8 per cent of the line-up, as opposed to just 2.4% all-female. Boomtown festival had a 34/1.1 per cent divide, whilst Boardmasters saw a 33.6/2.1 per cent split.
The Cambridge Folk Festival performed best out of the six festivals, as it actually saw a more even split across artists. The festival actually saw a higher percentage of female solo artists (25 per cent) than male (20 per cent). Male bands at the festival accounted for 25 per cent of the billing, whilst female bands were still underrepresented at 11.6 per cent.
London-based Country-Americana mixed gender duo O&A (comprising of vocalists Obadiah Jones and Orian Peled) recently performed at the Cambridge Folk Festival and said: “Of the festivals we performed at this year, some have been better than others about gender balance but, especially with headlining acts, there is a lot of work to be done to fix the gender representation.
“It’s not that there is a lack of female artists, there is a glass ceiling when it comes to the headline slots. There is currently such a refreshing new generation of female artists in our genres of Country and Americana music who deserve to headline and get more radio airplay.”
Initiatives such as the PRS Foundations’ Keychange campaign aim to help festival organisers reach a 50:50 gender balance by 2022. Iceland Airwaves recently became the first festival in the world to successfully achieve its 50:50 balance as part of the Keychange initiative.
Vanessa Reed, Chief Executive at PRS Foundation, said: “We’re encouraging the goal in a way that’s achievable and makes sense to festival organisers individually e.g. for some the aim is for 50% of the acts on stage to include at least 1 woman. For some it might be more about their conference panels and the balance of speakers and others will go even further by looking at their workforce too.
“Keychange provides a way for festivals to be part of a positive, international movement which brings together people who all want to see change and are doing practical things about that. Keychange is about celebrating the efforts being made by festivals who sign up rather than naming and shaming those who don’t, so the best thing promoters can do to work towards this change is to get in touch!”
Chris Roditis, MUSICnGEAR founder and Lead Editor, said: “Music festivals have the power to raise artists to prominence and it’s only fair for this opportunity to be given equally to both men and women.
“It is discomforting to see after crunching the actual numbers across many important festivals how enormously huge the gender gap still is. It is a fact that should be highlighted if we want things to change.”