The music industry is still a male-dominated business, and this fact is never made more obvious than when attending a popular music festival like Coachella, Bonnaroo, or Lollapalooza. Singer Ellie Goulding sent a series of tweets yesterday (July 1) calling attention to the gender disparity in music festivals’ artist line-ups and pointing out how unusual she, a female artist who headlines festivals annually, is in this role.
“Still so proud as a female artist to be headlining and playing festivals around the world every single year,” the 30-year-old “On My Mind” singer wrote yesterday afternoon.
She then composed another tweet, explaining herself. “Need to give myself credit sometimes as I’ve been doing this non stop for over seven years,” she wrote, “I don’t see many females at these festivals.”
Her observation, though muted and straightforward, is a valid one. The Huffington Post found that female artists made up only 12 percent of acts in 2016 (a figure that includes both all-female and mixed-gender acts) even though over half of festival attendees are women. Furthermore, in 2016, Coachella’s lineup featured 168 male artists and only 60 female artists, Refinery29 reports; the celebrity destination broke a nine-year tradition of having a male headliner this year by booking Beyoncé, then Lady Gaga in her stead.
“We’re very aware of the gender imbalance,” Chris Sampson, Executive Vice President of Programming for Superfly, told the Huffington Post. “We try to book the best festival that we can every year. We want the best artists out there, at every level, male or female.”
Of course, there is never a clear-cut answer in solving gender disparities like this one. Much of it is due to deeply ingrained sexism that is systemic in our society and that is going to take more than a rule change to filter out. Still, that said, a focus on hiring more female artists to perform, headline, and serve on the committees that choose who is playing could only help.