April 20, 2018

Music festivals should include more women in their 2019 lineups

I am no stranger to live music. Over the last year, I have followed bands across the country and dropped everything I am doing to see my favorite acts perform. Last summer, I had the chance to attend my first music festival, and I was immediately hooked by the opportunity to see multiple bands I love over the course of a few hours.

I quickly noticed a problem with the festival. There was no female headliner. In fact, there were hardly any female acts listed on the lineup.

As music festival lineups begin to be announced for summer 2018, it is obvious this problem was not left in the past. Bonnaroo, a festival in Tennessee, features no female headliners for the fifth year in a row. Coachella is featuring a record number of women on this year’s lineup, but  that “record” is a mere 33 percent. Firefly festival features no female headliners, and only 19 of the 95 acts have women in them.

In 2016, the Huffington Post did a study on the number of women featured in music festivals around the country. The study looked at lineups from ten different festivals and found only 22 percent of all bands performing had any female members. In fact, only 12 percent of acts were bands consisting of only female members. In comparison, 78 percent of all of the acts were made of only men.

This does not make sense to me. Especially since female only acts have been rocking the music scene over the last year. Camila Cabello currently holds the #2 spot on Spotify’s top 200. Selena Gomez, Dua Lipa, and Hailee Steinfeld are just a few female artists who also hold spots on the list. And yet, festivals around the country still fail to represent female talent.

Many have argued the lack of women in music festivals is caused by alternate subcultures that have existed since the festivals were started. These subcultures, started based on alternative or indie rock music, tend to see female acts as silly or too mainstream. Others say the gap is caused by timing – those on tour when the festivals are going on are more likely to be included in the lineup. Still others say there simply are not enough women in the music industry to headline.

However,  none of these reasons ring true this year. First of all, it’s 2018. Male dominated alternate subcultures should be a thing of the past, especially considering the amount of women who attend festivals each year. Both Halsey and Kesha are currently on tour, along with many other great female acts, and yet festivals are headlined by only men. The argument that women “simply aren’t there” in the music industry to headline is also incorrect. Did you all forget that Cardi B broke records late last year after ‘Bodak Yellow’ became the longest running single to remain in the Billboards top 100 by a female rapper? She is also one of three acts to ever have three singles in the top 100.

The female talent is there, the artists are there, the time is there. There is no excuse  for the lack of female artists in music festival lineups this year. Music festivals must give female artists a better platform to perform. Festivals are an exciting addition to an artist’s career, and female artists deserve the chance to showcase their talent. As a female who attends music festivals, I sincerely hope to see a decent number of women in next year’s lineups.

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