I know I seem to have festivals on the brain at the moment, but we are slap bang in the middle of festival season, so you’ll have to keep reading these posts for a few weeks yet. Anyway, this one is slightly different to all my reviews and reminiscing posts about previous festivals – this one is focusing on an interesting infographic that was sent to me by the guys over at Farfetch about the number of female bands performing at the world’s top three largest music festivals. Despite the crowds surrounding the stages at festivals being full of women of all ages, whether they arrive in huge groups or in pairs, it seems that most of the line-ups for 2014 were dominated by male acts. Where are all the female musicians when it comes to the stage? This infographic focused solely on three of the world’s biggest festivals, starting with our very own Glastonbury Festival, which saw 175,000 flocking to Pilton between June 25-29. These figures were compared with those from Denmark’s Roskilde Festival which attracted 110,000 between June 29 and July 6. And finally, Belgium’s Rock Werchter which saw a further 110,000 between July 3-6.
How big is the gender gap?
Let’s kick off with the figures on how many acts featured female members at each of the festivals. Glastonbury saw a whopping 83% of male performers to just 17%, but actually this was the highest percentage of female performers. Roskilde saw 88% of male performers compared to a mere 112% of females. But Rock Werchter showed the greatest gender gap with just 11% of female performers compared to 89% of males. Glastonbury may have been storming ahead, but still stood at only 17%!
Does genre matter?
As you can imagine, there seems to be a wider gender gap for some musical genres than others, and perhaps that is why some festivals in particular are struggling with the number of female artists. Women were best represented in pop, then rock acts at Glastonbury, with electronic, R&B and world music trailing behind. Over at Roskilde, pop remains the top representation of our gender, followed by rock and jazz, with further and much smaller representation in funk, experimental, electronic and world music. Rock Werchter, music like Glastonbury, went hard on pop and rock female-led acts, with far smaller numbers of electronic acts, then folk, jazz and world.
Who’s headlining the festivals?
Another sorry result for the ladies who were distinctly absent from the headline acts, in fact entirely so from Roskilde which featured no female headliners! Rock Werchter wasn’t far behind, with just 6%, and even Glastonbury only boasted a mere 15% – although this did include the fabulous Dolly Parton!
Is it a popularity contest?
The research team spent some time looking at Facebook likes and comparing both male and female acts to see who appeared most popular – these were used as record sales information was not available. Some of the top acts at the festivals included the male-led metal band Metallica who took to the main stage at Glasto and Rock Werchter this summer and boast 37,423,683 likes. Hip-hop artist Drake took the main stage at Roskilde and has 34,000,000 likes, he was joined by rockers The Rolling Stones who have 19,000,000. Skrillex represented electronic music at both Glasto and Rock Werchter on secondary stages and has 17,514,547 likes. While rockers Kings of Leon took to the Rock Werchter main stage with 12,000,000 likes, joined by Pearl Jam who have 9,997,000 likes. Finally the ladies chime in, popstrel Lana Del Ray headed to the main stage at Glasto with just 9,461, 785 likes. Ellie Goulding took to the stages at Glasto and Roch Werchter with 9,409,676 likes, with Imagine Dragons and Ed Sheeran trailing behind.
Bucking the trend?
One of my favourite festival moments of the summer is actually one I wasn’t even there for, I watched Dolly Parton’s performance at Glasto live on TV but loved every second, I felt like I was there. She line-danced all over that stage, entertained the huge crowd of over 100,000 with her fabulous and funny stories at the Pyramid Stage. She actually drew a larger crowd than Arcade Fire and Metallica – both headline acts! So it seems that although male acts might be more popular on paper and to the booking agents – but when it comes to winning over the audience, it’s anyone’s game!
It’s strange, this is something I hadn’t really thought about before. Considering all the festivals I have been to over the last three years, particularly this summer, I had never actually paid attention to how many female acts there were, or even what genre they seemed to stick to. After reading the infographic and really starting to think about it, I’ve certainly noticed that the majority of acts I have seen live this summer have definitely been male acts or male-led acts. I only actually remember seeing a handful of female headliners and one group featuring women taking a headline slot. While at We R FSTVL, Annie Mac was shockingly the only female act I remember seeing and while she really is a great role model and champions the female DJ, doing it alone perhaps highlights a real lack of women working in the electronic music genre.
At Secret Garden Party, one of the most impressive performances came in the form of Foxes who took a sunny, daytime slot on the Main Stage, while the powerful strains of Martha and the Vandellas had the whole crowd on their feet in one of the headline slots. This festival was probably one of the more female-friendly for acts but was still lacking slightly. BoomTown Fair actually went in the opposite direction with almost all of the acts I saw being male or at least male-led – I only remember seeing one act with a female singer, but there may have been others from times when I couldn’t quite see the stage. It’s a bit sad if there are actually all these female acts out there who are working their butts off and just aren’t being given the opportunities to perform on main stages at festivals – but is this a bigger problem with the music industry? Or is it simply a case of there are more men out there who want to be musicians to the level of performing at festivals? I’m not quite sure…What do you think about the figures and about the questions they raise? Do you think this highlights a bigger problem with the music industry – or are there just not enough female performers?