Festival headliners are dominated by male acts, according to study

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Music festivals are showing a bias towards male performers, a study suggests.

The study by BBC analysed more than 600 festival headliners over 14 different festivals. It’s results revealed that eight out of ten headline slots were taken by male acts.

25 per cent of those headliners were the same twenty acts.

The festivals researched by BBC were Download, Reading, V Festival, Isle of Wight, Bestival, Latitude, Wireless, Rewind, End of the Road, Cornbury, Boardmasters, T in the Park and Lovebox.

Festivals that aren’t centered around headline acts were not included in the study, including Creamfields and Boomtown Fair.

Among those dominating the headline slots were The Killers, Kasabian and Muse, whilst Coldplay, Kings of Leon and Pulp rounded off the top ten most frequent headliners.

BBC’s study showed a stark gender imbalance as only 37 headline acts out of a total of 308 were female. 68 of those were groups of mixed gender.

Of the females, Rihanna appeared the most with four entries, followed by Grace Jones and Florence & The Machine with just three headline slots each.

This gender imbalance was reflected throughout all of the festivals researched, including the more pop-orientated V Festival.

Michael Baker from Festival Insights, which run the UK Festival Awards, said that in order to promote diversity, festival organisers need to foster and promote emerging talent. He said:

 “Some festivals do attempt to address gender imbalance, such as Field Day, whose curator recently told me that they failed to book 50% female acts because there simply weren’t that many available.”

“Festival organisers are aware of the lack of interesting acts at the top, and many have taken to differentiating themselves from their competitors via non-music activities,” he continued.

“What needs to happen, however, is more long-term thinking and effort applied to the representation and promotion of emerging talent at festivals.”

The study was conducted to coincide with Glastonbury Festival, which officially begins 23 June.

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