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It’s 2024 & Women Still Make Up Less Than 25% of the Musicians on Stage at Major Festivals

With female artists making up less than a quarter of lineups across the board, is the industry exposing the sexism that is at its core?

Photo by Tony Pham / Unsplash

Festival season is underway, and with such a diverse scope of different events in 2024, why do women make up less than a quarter of the musicians on stage at major festivals? Artists getting booked to major festivals are given the opportunity to vast exposure, giving them a leg-up in the industry, which will contribute toward an excel in their career prospects and fanbase. With female artists making up less than a quarter of lineups across the board, is the industry exposing the sexism that is at its core?  

After receiving scrutiny around diversity in 2023, festivals like Glastonbury upped the ante this year, announcing 13.6% more female and non-binary artists set to perform at Glastonbury 2024. While this is a step in the right direction, it could be seen as a mere ploy, feeding female acts into lineups to tick boxes and avoid bad press. There is still much work to be done.

At a time when pushing for equality is vital, we look to the music industry to set the tone. Music and progressiveness are things we would naturally believe to coincide, and gender diversity has improved across festival lineups over recent years, rising by 18% in the last ten years. However, despite entering the industry at a higher rate than men, women are still missing from key positions and continue to face alarming rates of sexism and discrimination, which could be playing a huge role in the lack of female representation across festival stages. As education on this topic has come to light over the past few years, more and more festivals are striving for a 50/50 split of men and women or non-binary performers, and in 2019, Primavera Sound Festival achieved this, with artists like FKA Twigs, Lizzo, Charli XCX, Robyn and Sigrid on the bill. The UK’s Standon Calling Festival followed suit in 2022, that same year it was reported that still, only 13% of headliners were female.  

Education is a primary tool in deconstructing institutionalized bias, and we are seeing more and more imperative organizations pop up in aid of the cause. Amplify Her Voice is at the forefront of championing diversity within the industry to help women thrive, alongside many others, such as Book More Women, who strive to provide a visual representation of the lack of diversity across festivals specifically, starting conversations and tracking the progress of the issue at its core. There are many other organizations focused on tackling equality in the industry and focusing on a plethora of topics, such as Diversify the Stage, Beatz by Girlz and Calling all Crows to name just a few.

Festival lineups are an integral site for paying homage to the attitudes of the industry as a whole. The global Music Festival market size was valued at 2482.99 million in 2022. Festivals contribute to the consumer-facing industry attitudes and these events have become cultural phenomena that shape trends and influence popular culture, the lack of equality across lineups contributes to attitudes towards women in the music industry as a whole.

So we must continue the conversation, education and keep calling out the major festivals that refuse to embrace diversity with the hope that in the coming years 50/50 lineup split will be an industry standard. “Women in music are underplayed, underpaid and underrepresented”, if Music Festivals can contribute to leading the industry toward equality, then continuing to shine a light on the topic can only aid female artists' chance of exposure and there is no time like the present.