With TRNSMT, Fiesta x Fold and Kelburn Garden Party in the space of one weekend, no wonder Glasgow had a sore head on Monday. Although festival goers were lucky enough to see the likes of Liam Gallagher, the Artic Monkeys, Stereophonics, Nile Rodgers and Goldie, was anyone else left wondering….. Why were there no women headliners?
I shouldn’t be so hard on the festival promoters, of course there were some women artists playing at all three festivals, but there was nowhere near gender parity. Unfortunately this is by no means uncommon. In fact, a 2017 BBC study found that 80% of festival headliners were male.1 It seems the music industry is one where female artists either aren’t booked or struggle to get headline slots. Male artists always seem to have the monopoly over the Main Stage.
Although this is the case, many activists are trying to change this and increase women’s participation and representation in the music industry. Local artist Sarra Wild has called out many of the main players in Glasgow’s electronic music scene for the lack of female and queer artists;2 Girls Rock School3 and Producergirls4 are seeking to encourage women and girls to make and produce rock and electronic music; and she said.so5, a London based network, are breaking down gender stereotypes within the music industry by encouraging female role models for future generations.
There is only so long that festival promoters can ignore such courageous and innovative grassroots campaigning. Thankfully Bestival and Glastonbury are listening to the voices of activists and women in the industry and have now backed a pledge to achieve a 50/50 gender balance by 2022. The organisers of TRNSMT however have yet to sign up to the campaign, with organiser Geoff Ellis stating in an interview “I don’t want it put a date on it because I think then it becomes forced” and "not every female artist who would work at a festival like TRNSMT is necessarily available each year".
Although gender equality may not be a priority for the organisers of TRNSMT, as employment and discrimination lawyers it is a priority for us. Evidentially the music industry lacks gender balance, however things are absolutely changing. As employment and discrimination lawyers, we welcome that change and support all activists striving for equality, in the music scene and workplaces Scotland wide.
Blog by Alice Bowman