Only one-in-ten headliners at top UK music festivals this year will be women, a new study by the BBC Shared Data Unit indicates.
These findings come despite a national campaign to improve the representation of female performers at festivals, over the last five years.
The BBC’s Shared Data Unit analysed the music acts confirmed before May, that are set to headline at the top 50 UK festivals this summer.
They found that half of all the festivals in the study had no female headliners in their line-up, and only 13 per cent of performers were an all-female band, or a female solo act.
They also found that all-male bands and solo artists were the ones that occupied three quarters of the top billings.
The Representation Debate
The gender representation debate regarding music festivals started in 2015, when the Crack in the Road blog released various festival posters that were nearly completely bare, as all the male artists names were removed.
One of the posters was for Download Festival in Donnington, Leicestershire, and this was reduced to a single band on the event’s main stage.
A BBC Shared Data Unit investigated in 2017, and found that among 600 headliners to play at the UKs biggest festivals, over the past 30 years, 80 per cent of the acts were male.
Mark Savage, a BBC music correspondent said the UK festival industry continues to have a “worrying reliance on white, male guitar bands at music festivals,” even though figures from streaming services showed they had suffered a decline in popularity in the 2010s.
A number of high profile artists began to speak up about the scarcity of female acts in the top billings including Florence Welch, from Florence and the Machine and Shirley Manson, from Garbage. They called the entire situation “insane”.
2017 saw the launch of Keychange, an international campaign, aimed at achieving a 50/50 gender split at UK festivals by 2022.
The Project Manager, Francine Gorman said: “I think we have to remember that women and gender minorities have had access to far fewer opportunities than their male counterparts over the past however many years. It does take a little bit of time to build artists to the status that they’d be able to take a headline spot at a festival.”
But the latest Shared Data Unit study shows that progress has been slower than anticipated.
What were the findings from the study?
In this study, there were 200 headline acts, made up of 82 solo artists (including DJs with guest vocalists), 117 bands (including duos and collectives, with guest vocalists), and one orchestra.
The findings show that out of the 200 headline acts at 50 of the biggest UK festivals, only 24 (12 per cent) were an all-female band or solo artist.
75 per cent (or 150) of those acts were either an all-male band or male solo artist, and 12.5 per cent of the acts had a mixed lineup of male and female performers.
When taking all the acts into account, 27 of the 200 (13.5 per cent) were fronted by a female lead singer, and 12 had a mix of both male and female lead singers.
The study also found that 25 of the 50 (50 per cent) festivals involved had a billing of all-male headline acts, and none had a billing of all-female acts.
How many female headliners are there at your local Music Festival?
TRNSMT is a relatively new music festival that first took place in 2017, at Glasgow Green in Glasgow.
Many believe it was to fill the void of the once extremely popular T in the Park festival, which took place for the very last time, in 2016.
The festival gained popularity pretty fast as it was named ‘best new festival’ in 2017, at the UK Festival Awards in London.
This year, the TRNSMT festival is scheduled to run from Friday 8 July to Sunday 10 July 2022.
The confirmed headliners at this year’s festival are Paolo Nutini, Lewis Capaldi and The Strokes. So headlining the TRNSMT festival 2022, are two male solo artists and an all-male band.
Female acts on the line-up over the three day festival include:
- Ella Henderson
- Mimi Webb
- Nina Nesbitt
- Mae Muller
- Bonnie Kemplay
- Etta Marcus
- Self Esteem
- Alex Amor
- Rianne Downey
- Brooke Combe
There are also five acts in the line-up that are mixed groups, with both male and female members, these are Crawlers,The Regrettes, Dead Pony, Stone and Wolf Alice.