THE announcements of line-ups for Kendal Calling, Community and Live at Leeds – all coming last week – have sparked fresh questions about a lack of women headlining UK music festivals.

Social media users have once again reshared posters with all the male headliners removed, leaving an all-but-blank page, but despite the backlash and the press surrounding the topic in previous years, there are fears in the industry that little has changed.

BBC Newsbeat revealed last year that only 13% of festival headliners in the UK are not men. The study focused on 50 of the biggest festivals in the UK, taken from a YouGov survey.

Of 200 headline acts, it found 13% were an all-female, 74.5% were all-male, 12% had a mixed line-up and 0.5% of artists identified as non-binary.

Geoff Ellis, the organiser of TRNSMT, Scotland’s largest outdoor festival, came under fire in 2020 for announcing a line-up that not only failed to include any female headliners, but of the 13 announced acts only two were female.

Ellis attempted to defend his actions by claiming there simply weren’t enough female artists, despite Primavera Sound achieving a 50/50 gender split a year prior.

In 2021, the three-day festival booked three non-male headliners making up just 12% of the overall line-up. In 2022, the number increased to 23.22% and this year’s newly announced line-up marks a vast improvement with 39% of headline acts being non-male.

For TRNSMT, things are slowly moving in the right direction – but there is still a long way to go.

Looking to other major Scottish festivals, the numbers are worse.

Rewind 2023 has 22% non-male headliners, and although Summer Sessions is yet to announce this year’s line-up, in 2022, every headline act across both Edinburgh and Dundee festivals was male.

To combat the issue of gender inequality, Keychange established a movement in 2015 encouraging organisations to take a pledge to work towards a 50/50 split.

The organisation works across the global music industry, fighting for sustainability and supporting underrepresented artists.

The Keyfest manifesto calls for change in four areas: acknowledgement, investment, research and education. It invites all music organisations to take the pledge to increase representation in the music world.

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Scottish festivals to have taken the pledge are Fresh Ayr Folk Fest, Wide Days and Soundfestival, all of which have achieved an equal split or a female majority over the last two years.

Francine Gorman (left), UK project manager at Keychange, said: “Women and gender expansive artists and professionals historically haven’t had the same access to opportunities throughout the music industry as men.

“They’ve been consistently under-represented across festival stages, in leadership positions, on curriculums, radio playlists and beyond, and have been paid significantly less than male counterparts along the way.

“In order to remedy this, Keychange is working to change the entire music ecosystem to create more opportunities for women and gender-expansive people in all sectors and at all levels of the music industry, by taking the Keychange pledge.

“By doing so, individual organisations around the world commit to making changes in their immediate environment, and this has a huge knock-on effect for the number of under-represented people that are then able to progress through the industry.

“With more women and gender-expansive professionals in decision-making positions – senior execs, festival bookers, label and radio heads – comes more access and opportunity for those that have faced barriers as a result of their gender, so the more representation we can create, the more diverse, progressive and exciting this industry will be.”