Music Festivals Have A Major Girl Problem

Earlier in the spring I had the moral debate with my bank account, as I do every year, about whether to purchase Lollapalooza tickets. After weighing the pros and cons I decided to not purchase tickets and wait till next year to go (it’s sad I know).

So when the lineup came out in May for Lolla I was glued to my screen to see what I was going to have serious FOMO later. After reading through the lineup I noticed something.

Where are all the women at?

Of course, there are women artists in the lineup but, it seemed like there was an overwhelming amount of male artists when compared. I thought maybe this is just the case for Lollapalooza. So I went and looked at the lineups at Coachella and Bonnaroo this past year. Low and behold their lineups are the essentially the same way. For every 1 female act, there seemed to be 3 male acts.

How had I never noticed this before? Curious enough to see if anyone else had perceived this also I hit the internet looking for articles. I came across a remarkable article on Huffington Post written by Alanna Vagianos. After attending several music festivals Vagianos started to notice the lack of acts with only women kept asking herself one question: where the heck are all the women?

Vagianos decided to launch a study by comparing 10 major music festivals and seeing what percentages solo male acts, mixed acts, and solo women acts make up the lineup. Below are some of the results found:


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Via Huffington Post

The numbers pretty much speak for themselves. There is a staggering difference between the percentages of acts with just men and those with just women.

What’s even more shocking is that according to Vagianos, women usually make up 51% of the attendance at music festivals.

So why is there such a lack of women artists at these major festivals when they account for over half the audience?

Reading on into the article Vagianos explains how she talked with the head executives of these festivals and majority of them had the same reasoning for the lack of women performers at their music festivals.

The executives started talking about how they actually build a lineup. The process of getting a solid lineup may take two years of planning! If certain artists, either male or female, are touring at the time it may be harder to book them for any of the music festivals.

For example, if M.I.A. is set to perform in London at the same time as Coachella she obviously can’t play. But, Years & Years doesn’t have any conflicts with the festival and consequently gets the spot that M.I.A. may have taken.

Even though this could be a problem I feel that executives still could “substitute” an act. There are plenty of women artists out there they would be glad to take someone’s spot. I wish executives would look a little harder to fill a female act with another before giving it to a solo male act.

The executives also said a lot of the music festivals’ backbone genre is important to look at. Many festivals center their acts around rock, alternative, grunge, and rap. When these genres were becoming popular many of the artists at the time were men.

So, it appeared that male acts essentially broke into that certain genre and made it successful. This, in turn, gave these genres a male dominated stigma making it harder for women to break into and be just as successful.

Still, have you heard Tegan and Sara, St. Vincent, Janelle Monae, or Elle King?!?

These girls tear the house down every time they perform. It’s hard to believe that according to the “male foundation” they can’t be considered as talented as them doing the same type of music.

It still should be acknowledged that there is a lack of female acts in a lot of the biggest music festivals’ lineups. Females are killing the game nationally/internationally so why can’t some of that get shifted to into the festivals’ lineups? I think that every festival should try and have an even amount of male and female performers at their venue. But, like every problem we face we can’t work from the top down.

We have to start at the bottom and move up by recognizing the problem and trying to change the sexism stigma.

Music festivals are amazing. Gathering artists that may never perform together in one city is impressive. So, until this issue gets more attention rock out at Lollapalooza, Hangout, and Bonnaroo. Hopefully, at some point, this problem will be addressed. In the meantime, I will be sitting at home chowing down Oreo’s watching all the snap chat stories of these festivals being hella jealous.

Anna Flahaven

Editorial Contributor, Grand Valley State University Major: Marketing Her heart belongs to: Caramel Macchiatos, her Yorkie Lionel, and Scary Movies. Her guilty pleasures: Friday Night Lights, belting Elton John at 2 in the morning, and jalapeno cheetos.

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