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Miley Cyrus leads first equal male/female line-up at a major music festival

by Valeria Martinez | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 4 June 2019 16:45 GMT

Singer Miley Cyrus poses at the premiere for the movie "Isn't It Romantic" in Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

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A 2017 study found eight out of 10 top slots in 14 major festivals were taken by all-male acts

By Valeria Martinez

LONDON, June 4 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Spanish festival Primavera Sound has notched up a new record - the first major music event with an even split of men and women in its line-up with other festivals urged to follow suit.

With headline acts Miley Cyrus and Solange alongside J Balvin and Tame Impala, the three-day festival in Barcelona this month was hailed as an example for other festivals this year.

Campaigning to boost the number of female artists at music festivals started in 2017 when a study found eight out of 10 top slots in 14 major festivals were taken by all-male acts.

This prompted British charitable funder of new music and talent, the PRS Foundation, to set up the global Keychange campaign to push for equal representation on stage by 2022.

Vanessa Reed, chief executive of the PRS Foundation, said more than 170 festivals had signed up to the Keychange pledge with many other festivals close to reaching a balance.

"Primavera's fantastic line-up demonstrates you can put on brilliant festivals which actually reflect our population, instead of reflecting traditional ways of programming music," Reed told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"To get more large festivals to achieve a balance, we need to continue to raise awareness and show successful festivals can be once they achieve that balance."

Last year one of Britain's biggest music festivals, Wireless, unveiled an all-female stage after being criticised by chart-topping singer Lily Allen for only having three female acts out of a line-up of about 40.

About 220,000 people attended the 19th edition of Primavera Sound, which is often described as one of Europe's best music festivals, featuring artists from 40 countries this year.

Reed said a 50:50 gender split at music festivals by 2022 was achievable although it came with its challenges as the music industry was still overwhelmingly male.

"I don't think there's enough gender balance amongst the people who are booking festivals and running them," she said.

"All that needs to happen is for bookers to take more risks and make different kinds of choices about who they put at the top of their billing."

Outdoor music festivals have become increasingly popular with Festicket, the UK-based festival booking platform, forecasting revenue more than doubling to about 4.1 billion euros ($4.6 billion) in 2020 from 1.5 billion euros in 2015.

($1 = 0.8895 euros) (Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith @BeeGoldsmith; Editing by xxxx. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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