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Yet Another Sausage Fest: Music Festivals’ Gender Problem 

Wednesday, Mar 2 2016
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Need proof that we've reached peak cultural obsession with music festivals? Try this on for size: Festival lineup announcement season is a real thing.

Announcement season is an annual music industry barometer that reveals who's hot, who's gasping their last breath, and which '70s band's members have finally overcome their differences long enough for a hefty paycheck and an ultimately disappointing headline set. But look closer, since another revelation lurks amidst the all-caps Helvetica font: Festivals are a male-dominated mess with a gender gap we ignore rather than confront.

Too harsh? Too bad. Let's look at the festivals in this issue: 90 percent of the California Roots lineup is male, as are three-quarters of BottleRock Napa's and Stagecoach's lineps. Two of Lightning in a Bottle's nine headliners are women — which, while inadequate, is still miles ahead of Coachella. The Indio Valley fest hasn't featured a non-male headliner since Björk in 2007.

To Coachella's credit, the upper half of the festival undercard features more women than usual. In 2015, nine acts featuring women made it to the top three lines of the single-day lineups. This year, 13 did, but women remain relegated to the smaller-size fonts across the circuit. Outside Lands 2015 managed just one solo female artist (St. Vincent) within the first 19 artists on its lineup. Last year's Treasure Island featured 26 artists, two of which were all-female.

This is progress?

It's easy and fair to blame the major booking agencies responsible for these festivals, but the game was rigged long before AEG and Live Nation arrived. So long as it's more difficult for women to reach headliner status and be considered legitimate investments by their labels and industry, the solution will never be as simple as just booking more women. Simply put, Lilith Fair taught us nothing.


Find Your Festival: Your Guide to Music Festivals in 2016

Find Your Festival: Coachella

Find Your Festival: Stagecoach

Find Your Festival: Lightning In A Bottle

Find Your Festival: BottleRock

Find Your Festival: California Roots

Still Haven't Found Your Festival? Check Out These Other Options

Dispatches From Festivals: Full Body Cavity Searches, While Tripping

Dispatches From Festivals: Rock 'N' Roll, Beer, -- And No Sex

Riding Solo: How To Go To A Music Festival Alone

What To Do If You’re Too High (Read This Before You Eat Those Mushrooms)

About The Author

Elle Coxon

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