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No Progress In The Battle Of The Sexes At Music Festivals

Muse in 2015


In this man-woman equality combat, we still have a long way to go, a very long way… A new study published by BBC on Thursday shows that music festivals are still very much dominated by male acts. The study took 14 major festivals into consideration and analyzed more than 600 headline appearances: the results show that 8 out of 10 top slots are occupied by all-male acts, which by the way. were more or less the same bands, as a quarter of all headline slots were taken by only 20 bands.

The sad reality is that there is no evolution, as a chart showing the percentages of female/male/mixed acts from 2008 to 2017 do not show much progress, male acts oscillate around 70-90 %, while female and mixed acts are never above 20% and the stability of the curves is impressive: 10 years do not make any difference in this area.

‘But it’s not just the headliners that are imbalanced’ as musician and writer Emma-Lee Moss notices ‘it’s acts all across the board’

This is a UK study, and that’s why you will find a lot of English bands dominating the festivals which were considered, as, among the top acts which had the most festival headline appearances, there were Muse (11 appearances), Kasabian (11), the Killers (10), Foo Fighters (9), the Prodigy (9), whereas Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay, Stereophonics, Blur, Artic Monkeys, Metallica, and Kings of Leon all had 8 festival appearances …yeah, a very male and very white world. In contrast, Rihanna had only 4 top slots, whereas Florence and the Machine and Grace Jones had 3…

Is it the same in the US? For what it is worth, here are the numbers for the new festival Arroyo Seco happening this weekend in Pasadena: 24 male acts, 5 mixed acts and 8 female acts…and Alabama Shakes is the only band fronted by a woman which has a decent spot around 7 pm. And the recently-announced Foo-Fighters’ Cal Jam 17? Same story: 11 male acts, 5 mixed acts and 4 female acts, with the headlines occupied by all the white men of rock ‘n’ roll: Foo Fighters, QOTSA, Liam Gallagher, Cage the Elephant…

At least Coachella did replace Beyonce by another female by Lady Gaga to headline one of their 3 nights, but she was only the second female Coachella headliner in its nearly 20-year history (the other one was Bjork). And the FYF fest has also a female-headlined day out of their 3-day festival, but why do they need to put 2 women in that spot (Missy Elliott and Bjork) to compensate for a Frank Ocean or a Trent Reznor? It’s still a very men’s world, we already knew that.

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