Music Festivals Have A Serious Women Representation Problem, Which Is Not Cool And Not Surprising

Music festival season is upon us and the music industry is once again living up to its bad rep of being blatantly sexist and misogynistic. Although half of the festival attendees are women, The Huffington Post recently published a piece titled “Music Festivals’ Glaring Women Problem” where they break down the numbers on how many women are on stage versus men. The numbers don’t lie and they are certainly not in our favor.

The #FreeKesha fiasco has been a painful plot to follow and is one example of how terribly women are treated in the industry. Yes, the Kesha situation is an extreme case, but the music business is consistently shady towards women in both little and big ways.

HuffPo’s  was inspired to do her research when there seemed to be hardly any women on the lineups at music festivals she was attending.

Thirty-two million people attend music festivals every year in the U.S. Over half (51 percent) of those attendees are women. But on stage, the demographics are very different. Coachella’s 2016 lineup included 168 male artists and just 60 female artists — a figure that includes both all-female and mixed-gender acts. Ultra’s 2016 lineup only featured 20 female artists, while a whopping 198 exclusively-male acts made up the rest of the weekend. Lollapalooza tapped 124 male acts to perform at its 2016 festival, and only 47 female acts.

That’s a pretty dismal imbalance — and, unfortunately, that gender disparity isn’t anything new.The lack of women artists at music festivals has been discusseda lot. But where’s the real disconnect? How many female acts really are at these festivals — and has that number changed over time? And if women are dominating the music industry, why don’t we see it reflected in festival lineups?”

This is unfortunately true in many other industries as well. Last November, Houston’s “Whatever Comedy Festival”  featured 50 comedians. Three of them were women.

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I have a few girlfriends who are super pumped to attend Governors Ball Music Fest this weekend in NYC. Let’s take a look at the female to male performers ratio, shall we?

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Yikes. That’s worse than I thought.

Why is it like this? Slate writer Forrest Wickman posed a theory back in 2013.

“The real problem at most of these festivals lies in the alternative subcultures they celebrate. Formed out of the male-dominated music scenes of jam music (in the case of Bonnaroo), late-’90s indie rock (Coachella), and early ’90s alternative and grunge (Lollapalooza), these festivals tend to celebrate diversity while dismissing the most popular pop acts — the ones who tend to dominate the charts and who tend so often to be female — as frivolous or corporate.”

You should really read the full article here. They even make the ratio breakdowns for each festival really easy to share on social media, including the numbers for Ultra Music Festival. This outdoor electronic music has the most dismal results of them all.

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Big changes are in order. Here’s a very funny video of comedian Luke Mones interviewing EDM festival attendees to cheer you up for the time being.

You’re welcome.