The 1975 singer Matt Healy has announced he won’t be playing any festivals that have a gender imbalance on the lineup, and this is the kind of action the industry needs right now.
The music industry has a problem with women. For starters, you just need to look at the recent example of Taylor Swift’s music catalogue now being owned by a man. Nicole Scherzinger has also pointed out how much female groups are scrutinised compared to male groups. And Lily Allen called out the “middle-aged multi-millionaire white dudes doing what they do best: controlling, belittling and humiliating the very people that they couldn’t do without.”
This in turn means that there is a lack of female artists given the opportunities to headline festivals. They simply are not given the support to make it there. Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis recently spoke out about the lack of female artists on festival lineups, saying that when it comes to organising a festival “the live music world has been so male-dominated, so I’d go to meetings with just tables of men.”
So what action has actually been taken?
Matt Healy has now demonstrated how actions speak louder than words by announcing that he won’t continue to play festivals that have a gender imbalance.
He spoke out after the male-heavy Leeds and Reading Festival lineup was confirmed this week. Only 20 of the 91 acts on the initial lineup are women. This led Guardian journalist Laura Snapes to tweet Healy, saying: “Do it MH, add a condition to your rider that says you’ll only play festivals that commit to X% (ideally 50%!) acts that include women and non binary performers.”
Healy replied saying: “Take this as me signing this contract – I have agreed to some festivals already that may not adhere to this and I would never let fans down who already have tickets. But from now I will and believe this is how male artist can be true allies.”
Snapes responded, tweeting: “Fuck yes Matt! Brilliant! Very interested to know how you negotiate this with booking agents.”
This led to Healy explaining: “Yeah fuck knows and I’m sure my agents are having kittens right now, but time’s up man. People need to act and not chat. Thanks for the kick up the arse Snapes, you’re making a difference.”
It shouldn’t take this kind of action to make the industry wake up, but the fact is that actions really do speak louder than words. If more artists follow Healy’s lead, perhaps we’ll actually start seeing a change soon.