A number of music festivals and conferences are coming together in an effort to achieve gender-equal lineups, with a goal of having a 50/50 gender balance by 2022.
But let's be real—this is a long time coming.
The PRS Foundation launched the initiative, dubbed the International Keychange initiative, which empowers women to “transform the future of the music industry and encouraging festivals to achieve a 50:50 balance by 2022.”
45 festivals and conferences have made the pledge so far, including New York's Winter Jazzfest and A2IM Indie Week; Canada's BreakOut West, MUTEK and North by North East; the UK's BBC Proms, Kendal Calling, Sŵn, and Liverpool Sound City; Sweden's Way Out West, Iceland Airwaves, Estonia’s Tallinn Music Week and many others, as Fuse reports.
“Our focus on gender equality in 2018 aligns with the centenary for some women being given the vote in the U.K.,” Vanessa Reed, CEO of PRS Foundation, said. “100 years on, the push for gender parity across society continues, and with increased public awareness of inequalities across the creative industries, we have an opportunity to respond and commit to tangible change in music. The Keychange network of female artists and industry professionals and the festival partners’ idea of establishing a collective pledge will significantly accelerate change. I hope that this will be the start of a more balanced industry which will result in benefits for everyone.”
Their efforts toward a more balanced festival circuit are not only admirable, but necessary. It's clear the imbalance has been a problem for a while now.
Earlier this year, London's Wireless Festival announced their lineup, and as pop songstress Lily Allen points out, there's one major problem: The three-day lineup only features three women in total.
The struggle is real pic.twitter.com/R58zKuCaK2
— Lily (@lilyallen) January 23, 2018
More acts are still to be announced for the festival, but fans are not happy with the lack of female artists so far.
And last year, U.K.'s Reading & Leeds festival came under fire after announcing their first round of performers, containing 57 male performers and only one woman: Chrissy Costanza.
“I'm not gonna tiptoe around the issue, because I genuinely want the issue to be resolved. I want there to be change,” Costanza said when we spoke to her last year. “If that means having to say the things that are a little bit more uncomfortable, then I'm willing to say that.”
Of course, it's great to have 45 smaller festivals joining forces to bring an end to the gender imbalance, but what's really needed? A change on a larger scale, including such festivals as Lollapalooza, Coachella, Firefly and more.
Earlier this year, Halsey called out Firefly festival for their lack of female representation, too. “Damn guys come onnnnnn. Where the women at. This was one of my favorite festivals I’ve ever played and it’s a shame there’s not more females on the bill. With the exception of (the amazing) Sza, the first like 20 acts on the bill are men. It’s 2018, do better!!!”
Damn guys come onnnnnn. Where the women at. This was one of my favorite festivals I’ve ever played and it’s a shame there’s not more females on the bill. With the exception of (the amazing) Sza, the first like 20 acts on the bill are men. It’s 2018, do better!!! https://t.co/8tmeac8mVu
— h (@halsey) January 11, 2018
And we agree: It's 2018, and the music world can do better.