Last week, Canadian singer-songwriter Kandle put up a post on Facebook showing the lack of female acts in some major music festivals in the US and the UK. That was demonstrated by removing male acts from three festival posters, respectively Coachella (US), Reading/Leeds (UK) and Download (UK). For anyone familiar with Coachella’s poster, for instance, that action left us to a very starry sky.
A question that shall be asked now is, what are the boundaries surrounding music festivals that limit women’s participation? As in, how are these spaces more opened/accessible to male acts?
I believe this question exceeds the idea of music festivals – it seems to be an even more profound issue: the answer basically lies in the way the music industry functions. It would not be fair to believe some female acts were refused participation to these festivals; but it could be in terms of their access to the music industry in general. Now, if it is hard to know how many bands/music acts there are in the world, it is as hard to know what is the male-female proportion in the music industry.
Based solely, and I really mean solely, on what I know and what I’ve experienced, there seem to be a higher proportion of male musicians, therefore the odds for their presence in festivals are, accordingly, much higher.
That seems undeniable, yet, how did it end up like this? Why can’t we see/hear more women?
Does this have to do with the particular music genre these festivals promote? Would that mean the indie and metal music scene don’t like women as much as they like men?
Of course other factors shall come into consideration. Maybe there has been some scheduling conflicts for some female acts; or, more realistically, no more additional spots were made available to women acts, simply because these acts don’t exist!
If one of these festivals had to be a pop one, then it would have been a whole different story. Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Taylor Swift… they would all have been there. Difference is, these women have got a gigantic industry running after them. Is becoming a pop star the only way to success for female artists? And what is it that restrains them from trying and showing their talent? Does this have to do with beauty standards? Does one woman need to be confortable with her body first in order to perform in such a space? Where should they find their confidence?
I don’t necessarily intend to answer all these questions, but rather to stir up a discussion. The struggle is real and is surely great food for thought.