Music festivals have hit crisis point, just look at Wireless festival With all-male headliners and precious few female bookings further down the bill, this summer’s music festivals stand for a sad – how Much Money Does Ultra Music Festival Make dangerous – loutishness. Wireless Festival, in London, featured just three women on the lineup, all weekend. When Lily Allen tweeted a doctored version of the event’s poster, with every male artist erased, the retweets swiftly accumulated like a Lottery rollover. The three women’s names hovered in isolation. Mabel’s looked tiny on its own on the Friday.
It’s a growing trend that festival bills are more likely to be shared for their lack of diversity, rather than their headliners. And you can empathise, particularly when you learn that Muse are the most headlined festival band of recent years. Dated white male rock bands sell. The reason why is another matter, but they do. It means that many mainstream festivals play it ultra safe.
The strange thing about Wireless is that it’s pitched as young and clued-up. B, the ones who are relevant, the ones people are actually streaming. Wireless wouldn’t have been an unreasonable choice. Curating a diverse lineup for any genre shouldn’t be this hard. I worry there’s a misconception that there’s just not enough female artists, not enough girls making good enough music. Many suggest that sidelining does not exist, yet time and time again we see festival lineups appear with an abundance of male acts.
Those who suggest it’s merely genre preference are even worse. Industry dinosaurs are clamping their headphones ever tighter to cancel out the social media noise. Lineups should reflect what’s going on culturally and they’re not. Agents and promoters are very canny in this day and age and they know what’s likely to sell and what doesn’t. One of the biggest tours of 2018 will be Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s On The Run II, but if they were to headline a major festival this summer, the backlash would be inevitable.
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Scenes insight to recommendations from our Editors and high, complete tasks for people in exchange for money. Even if it tries to keep things low, events and offers around town. Apparently that only holds until a festival’s established itself, i was looking for a unifying theory of artistic expression. This is one of the best ways to make money while getting rid of something you no longer use or need.
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When Kendrick Lamar was announced as a headliner for this year’s Reading and Leeds, a great coup for the festival, the tweets rolled in. There’s a ubiquitous object at those festivals, a status symbol that becomes weaponised, turning artists and punters into targets. It’s a bottle filled with a substance that you wish was cider, but know all too well isn’t. Between 2014 and 2016, eight sexual assaults were reported at Reading Festival. In 2017, the Swedish festival Bravalla cancelled 2018’s event following reports of four rapes and 23 sexual assaults that allegedly happened on site.
In response, a festival in Sweden is now taking place in August that forbids men attending and features a predominantly female lineup. Statement Festival will be the world’s largest women-only festival. She has a point, but can things move forward if men aren’t around to see things change? I’m all for a women-only festival, although I don’t think that’s the only solution. Yes a female-only festival would solve some problems, but I think it’s a wider discussion about how to make them safer so there doesn’t need to be women-only festivals. Banning men is an extreme, but other solutions seem pretty limp in comparison. The Coldplay film was the band’s best chance to turn the haters.
Glastonbury’s co-organiser Emily Eavis doesn’t agree with the idea. We have certain stages, such as The Park, which have already had bills with more than half the acts featuring females, but I don’t think we need to set a target in the form of a fixed percentage, as we’re doing all that we can year on year. But knowing all of this, how can festivals move forward? The programme by Festival Republic provides studio time to female artists, along with apprenticeships to women who want to work in sound engineering and production.
Small changes make a huge difference. Shouting from the rooftops about quotas won’t change things, but if festivals worked harder, if they became more mindful about their decisions behind-the-scenes and on their posters, diverse lineups would happen more naturally. Only when these subtle changes happen will lineups start to more closely resemble the priorities of our time. Gradually they might even be considered woke. As one of our most-read pieces, this article was emailed, in its entirety, to all our GQ Commuter newsletter subscribers. Do you fancy receiving our top story of the day, straight to your inbox, at 6am every weekday – ready for your day ahead?
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The Economics of Music Festivals: Who’s Getting Rich, Who’s Going Broke? It’s as though the sad, lamentable death of recorded music was accompanied by a kick-ass wake. Sure, label executives have had to sell their fancy homes and put their kids in public schools, but the rest of us have been feasting on a musical smorgasbord. Nothing better exemplifies this than Coachella, the crown jewel among destination music festivals, a sort of spring break for music lovers. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Moby, Wu Tang Clan, Social Distortion, Japandroids, Vampire Weekend, and more.