Where Are All The Women (and Vowels)?


TRNSMT Line-up Revealed

Late in 2016, it was announced that iconic Scottish music festival T in the Park was set to take a break in 2017 – the festival’s first since its inception in 1994 – instead was being replaced by a non-camping festival scheduled to take place on Glasgow Green. Last week saw the first hint of new festival TRNSMT’s identity, with the revelation of headliners, which include Radiohead, Kasabian and Biffy Clyro. The line-up also boasts popular bands such as Two Door Cinema Club, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and Circa Waves. As great as it is to see less X Factor finalists and more talented rock and indie acts, there’s one important point to be made about the line-up. Where are all the women?

A quick scan (and Google) of TRNSMT’s top fourteen acts reveals only two women and a grand total of 42 men. TRNSMT is not alone in its prioritisation of all-male bands. In 2015 the Reading and Leeds Festival line-up exposed that only eight of the featured bands contained any women. A 2015 Guardian analysis stated that 86% of performers at British musical festivals were men. And clearly nothing’s changed in the intervening two years. But this is a problem with the music industry in general. A 2012/3 report found that, across the entire industry, over two thirds of jobs were held by men, and the majority of 2016’s top-selling singles were made by men. (Shout-out to Little Mix and Adele!)

TRNSMT is obviously a new festival, and it seems a reasonable suggestion that the festival seeks to capture the rock and indie approach that made T in the Park so popular in the first place. Why not return to a tried-and-tested formula if it’s guaranteed to boost waning ticket sales? Female-led bands that slot into that genre are rarer than you’d think – only Marmozets, Wolf Alice and Paramore spring to mind – and the promoters shouldn’t be blamed entirely for a dearth of gender equality in their chosen genre. The business logic is admittedly sound. Book good bands, and people will come to your festival. But that doesn’t stop the result from being more than a little disappointing: better luck next year?

[Rachel Walker]

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