Why Are There Still Low Levels of Female Musicians At Festivals?

Some of the world’s biggest musicians are female, yet year after year they are being disregarded by festivals. Big festivals like Glastonbury, Coachella and Lollapalooza are supporters of the biggest names in music and help music fans all over the world define who those big names are. Yet a large proportion of the time, the release of festival line-ups highlight the gender inequality in the music industry.

The world’s most in demand artists are Ariana Grande, Beyoncé and even Lady Gaga, with stars like Halsey and Billie Eilish gaining increasingly more popularity at festivals. But not only is it a rare occurence to see female artists headlining festivals, it’s also rare to see established female artists play at festivals at all. A 2018 survey completed by Pitchfork found that on a whole women only make up 19% of your average festival lineup.

Last year, out of 183 acts playing at Bonnaroo festival in America, only 38 of them happened to be female or had a female member and none of these were headliners. Yet this still is an improvement on 2017’s numbers, as 2017 saw only 7% of all artists being a female.

To excuse this, it’s also stated that female artists and bands are ‘typically’ up and coming, yet this is not the case. Billie Eilish for example is getting bigger and bigger by the second, breaking records and drawing huge crowds. Another example of this can be seen with Halsey, a HUGE female artist who’s only getting bigger. Yet both of these artists and those in the same league as them are being kept lower down festival lineups.

However, what should be celebrated is the growing number of women that are appearing on festival lineups. This year saw Ariana Grande headline Coachella, becoming the 4th female artist to do so. Glastonbury this year has more female artists playing than ever, seeing Janet Jackson, Kylie & Miley Cyrus filling big slots.

Announced this week, TRNSMT have a dedicated stage to female artists. A nod to the famous venue ‘King’s Tut’s’, ‘Queen Tut’s’ will host at least 18 female artists over the 3 days of the festival. TRNSMT aims to ‘pave the way’ for female headliners and want to close the gender play gap at festivals.

So as festivals begin to release their lineups and day splits, what female artists and bands should you go and see?

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice are appearing at many festivals across the UK this year, they’re headlining Truck Festival in Oxford and have a huge slot at Y Not? Aswell. Wolf Alice are fronted by Ellie Rowsell and put on an insane live show. Already selling out venues like the Brixton Academy in London, and having won the Mercury Prize last year, Wolf Alice are certainly not one to miss on the festival circuit this year.

Wolf Alice at Glastonbury

Wolf Alice at Glastonbury | EMMA SWANN

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish has blown up in the past year, and this festival season will most definitely be the last time you’ll see her not on the main stage. Her debut album ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ went straight into the charts at Number 1 and saw her become the youngest female artist (aged just 17) to top the UK album charts. You can see Billie Eilish at Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds, Pukkelpop and many more festivals across the UK and Europe this season.

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish | Fomoblog

Charli XCX

Charli XCX is one of the UK’s biggest female artists, with over 13 million monthly listeners on Spotify, she’s destined to draw big crowds. An activist of LGBTQ+ rights, Charli spreads love throughout her performances and is not one to be missed on the festival circuit this year. With a wealth of new music in her hands, Charli XCX’s set will be full of surprises.

Charli XCX Performs at Glastonbury Festival

Charli XCX Performs at Glastonbury Festival | Hawtcelebs

Goat Girl

All female band Goat Girl are a post-punk band from London who’ve received lots of media attention for their relatable and intriguing lyrics. Named the best breakthrough act of 2018 by Q Magazine and are selling out various venues across the UK. Goat Girl’s sets promise to be one that leaves a lasting impact. You can catch Goat Girl at various festivals across the UK this summer and you don’t want to miss them.

Goat Girl at Citadel Festival

Goat Girl at Citadel Festival | Citadel

Header image copyright © Ethan Miller



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