45 International Music Festivals & Conferences Pledge Gender Balance

45 international music industry conferences and festivals have have announced that they are committed to achieving or maintaining a 50/50 gender balance across their festivals by 2022 (including live line-ups, conferences and commissions).

The announcement is part of PRS Foundation’s International Keychange initiative, which brings together politicians, artists and the music industry.

The announcement follows the gender balance commitment proposed by Keychange’s founding festival partners: Reeperbahn Festival (Germany), BIME (Spain), Iceland Airwaves, Way Out West (Sweden), Musikcentrum Sweden, Tallinn Music Week (Estonia), MUTEK (Canada) and The Great Escape (UK).

The participating conferences & festivals include:

53 Degrees North (England), Aldeburgh Festival (England), Blissfields (England), Bluedot (England), Borealis (Norway), BreakOut West (Canada), By:Larm (Norway), Canadian Music Week (Canada), Cheltenham Jazz Festival (England), Cheltenham Music Festival (England), Eurosonic Noorderslag (Netherlands), FOCUS Wales (Wales), Granada Experience (Spain), Hard Working Class Heroes (Ireland), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (England), A2IM Indie Week (USA), BBC Music Introducing Stages (UK), Katowice JazzArt Festival (Poland), Kendal Calling (England), Liverpool International Music Festival (England), Liverpool Sound City (England), Manchester Jazz Festival (England), Midem (France), Norwich Sound and Vision (England), North By North East (Canada), NYC Winter Jazzfest (USA), Off The Record (England), Oslo World (Norway), Pop-Kultur (Germany), BBC Proms (England), Roundhouse Rising (England), Spitalfields Music (England), Swn (Wales), Trondheim Calling (Norway), Waves Vienna (Austria), Westway LAB (Portugal), Wide Days (Scotland), Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival (France)


Keychange is a pioneering international initiative supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union which is empowering women to transform the future of the music industry and encouraging industry conferences and festivals to achieve or maintain a 50:50 balance by 2022. By bringing together like-minded festivals and conference programmers committed to positive action, Keychange aims to create much needed long-term change in live music and beyond.

92 thoughts on “45 International Music Festivals & Conferences Pledge Gender Balance

      1. Or perhaps women are more likely to look for stable, safe jobs for raising kids rather than the fanciful ego trip and subsequent poverty of trying to make it in music?

      2. Or maybe it has to do with evolution by natural selection and the fact that males of the species are drawn to these more fanciful and flamboyant pursuits in order tho win the affections of females. Something you’ll find is widely mirrored across the Animal kingdom at large.

  1. Great idea! Women make up way less than 50% of EDM scene as musicians, so let’s include a few shitty ones each festival to replace much better male counterparts! /s

    This also speaks to gender polarity. What about those people that define their gender as neither male or female? No space for them? FAIL !!

    What a can of worms !!!

    1. How many of these festivals are specifically catering to the EDM genre of music?

      Perhaps if aspiring EDM artists were exposed to role models they can identify with, they would motivated to continue to pursue their craft?

      Perhaps if you were exposed to more EDM musicians of a gender that is underrepresented, you may discover that your observation of “way less than 50%” might be incorrect?

      Why don’t we use the scientific method to evaluate it?
      Try it out, observe the result… then make an evaluation.

  2. Good tunes don’t care about you damn gender. What next? 50/50 straight/gay ratio? Oh and let’s add few more gender pronouns. Also you have to have every race there on the stage, no matter how much they suck. Geez…

  3. I’m so sick of this crap! When will they deal with the REAL bias issue and have more balance for balding middle aged fat DJ’s!!!!

    All these DJ’s that could be models… Men with their chiseled chins, and chick DJ’s with their bouncing side-boob action (yea, I’m looking at you Ms. DeWitt!!!)!!!

    It’s not fair!!! I demand a safe space and BALANCE!!!!

  4. Instead of forcing a perceived gender balance, we instead let talent and determination take presedence.

    How about treating men and women equally… not oppress men and lie to women?

    1. “Instead of forcing a perceived gender balance, we instead let talent and determination take presedence.”

      If talent and determination were the key factors that determine who gets a slot at events, then you’d have to either a) expect there to be gender balance naturally, because the cream rises to the top; or b) make the case that men are just genetically better at music.

      In the classical musical world, there have been festivals that used a blind submission processes, where scores are reviewed and judged purely on the music itself – and these end up naturally being much more representative.

      Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy to judge music by its actual quality, rather than other things.

  5. “The announcement is part of PRS Foundation’s International Keychange initiative, which brings together politicians, artists and the music industry.” POLITICIANS DON’T BELONG ANYWHERE NEAR MUSIC!!!! THIS IS THE DUMBEST THING I’VE SEEN IN A LONG TIME. JOKE’S ON THEM THEY’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE ANY $ WITH A SHIT LINEUP FOR A FESTIVAL.

  6. Seems like a lot of men are expressing their fears about gender equality here.

    Let’s be honest, in almost all areas of modern life men esp white men have all kinds of subtle and not so subtle advantages over women and people of other skin colors that most white guys don’t even realize that we have due to the fact that we are ignorant to our privilage.

    One example in the comments above is that all of the comments mention gender balence issues that concern the performers etc.

    Well what about the organazitonal / art and music direction / and other important power positions in a festival?

    These jobs serve to make or break a festival as much as the artists whom are playing at it and I would be willing to bet that there some major gender Imbalances in those positions that are also in need of addressing.

    As for the artist / musician gender issue I am a male electronic musician and I fully support efforts to make the stage accessible to eveyone / anyone whom has the talent to be there!

    Diversity breeds creatively!


    1. You’re contradicting yourself. Equality isn’t lowering standards for females just to have them aboard. There’s a difference between “equality” and “balance”. You and SJWs want balance. You just want to see 50% on a statistic somewhere. That in no way correlates to fairness.

      We both agree performers should follow these rules, but these rules should exist across the entire board. The best person is the best, regardless of gender. Lets face it, women aren’t going to become rappers just because a few organizations said so.

      Also, I’m a white male that grew up a minority. Ever heard of Compton? I was raised two blocks from the city line. To say I have some sort of power over any other skin color is complete garbage. Identity politics is cancer. You can’t judge a book by its cover.

      1. “Equality isn’t lowering standards for females just to have them aboard.”

        No, it’s not.

        Equality is putting processes in place to make sure that your processes are not biased, so you aren’t screwing over much of the population.

        That doesn’t mean using quotas to decide who gets to participate. It means looking at your results to see if your processes are grossly biased, and if they are, fixing your processes.

        That’s pretty obvious to most people – but apparently it’s easier for angry white snowflakes to just blame ‘SJWs’.

  7. A quota just for neutrality sake is a bad idea. I’m for acts of any gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality or political orientation as long as it is quality music and performance. I refuse to pay to see a crappy act that was added just to meet some quota.

    1. its even worse, its definition of sexism, picking participians based on their sex is exactly what they are supossedly fighting against

  8. Just so somebody says it, I think this is a good idea.

    LOL at this “oppressing” men. Just like it “oppressed” men when women were allowed to go out in public without a male escort, own property, drive, vote, and so on.

    There already is a gender quota — an unofficial, insidous one. One where you freak out if there’s more than one or two token women playing at a festival. Look at how many of you automatically think this is going to mean “a shit lineup.”

    (Also I’m nonbinary, and don’t appreciate having that used as an excuse not to balance things. There are a hell of a lot more people identifying as female than nonbinary. Could they have worded their announcement more inclusively? Yeah, a bit. Is it still a step in the right direction? Yes.)

        1. Ummm … no … SkyNet is actually correct … at last count, there were only two sex chromosomes (X and Y)… you can be XY (male), XX (female) but there are cases of XXY (in males = Klinefelter’s Syndrome) or XYY (in males Jacob’s Syndrome)… there’s even cases of YY (one chromosome is a deformed X chromosome)… if you’re referring to someone who is BIOLOGICALLY male or female but mentally identifies with the opposite sex, then that doesn’t have any bearing on their chromosomal makeup … for example, a male to female transgender person may take female hormones and look/think(?) female but deep down inside their cells, there lurks the dreaded male Y chromosome…. biologically, they will always have a male genotype (XY)…. and let’s not forget that it’s the Y chromosome that has the gene for TDF (Testes Determining Factor)…. aint no amount of political correctness, gender fluidity, warm and fuzzy hugs gonna change that…. biologically, you’re still a male.

          1. Coco, SkyNet

            Anyone with basic knowledge of biology knows that, throughout the animal world, the idea that there are only two genders, male & female, is simplistic.

            Nature is a lot more colorful and interesting than your imaginations or biases.

            Are you really ignorant of chimerism – the fact that one person can have more than one set of DNA? Women are giving birth to their genetic sister’s babies all the time, without even knowing it. People can have parts of their bodies that are genetically ‘male’ and other parts that are genetically ‘female’.

            And do you really not know that a person’s external organs often do not match what you’d expect from their DNA?

            Or that it’s not unusual for animals to change gender over time?

            You could argue that there are chromosomes that contribute to gender or that most of the time people have one set of organs or the other, but even that’s a bit simplistic.

            The idea that gender is a binary thing, defined by what’s average, is a pretty dumbed-down version of reality.

            And, if your music event just happens to be a sausage-fest, it’s a pretty dumbed-down version of reality, too.

  9. All for it. Don’t worry scared men; if you’re good you’ll still get gigs. I’ll never understand dudes who get threatened by stuff like this. Lack of confidence in their own talent?

      1. to be fair, skynet, you seem pretty worked up about it. the sneering condescension dripping off you like meth sweat doesn’t help.

        great, i prefer talent to charisma. but so many concertgoers can’t tell the difference. good for them, anyhow

          1. Ugh, we get it. You read the Ben Shapiro book about how to argue. The fact is that these festivals made the decision to be more inclusive. The fact is you are salty about it. The fact is that none of those people give a shit.

            Also: your mom told me to tell you that your taquitos are done and that you need to pick up all your fedoras.

  10. A lot of people are tying great talent to more bookings but looking at most festival lineups, this definitely isn’t true. Maybe the festival producers realized that regardless of talent, certain artists sell tickets and maybe there’s a huge market out there for more female performers. Talent doesn’t come into play but that sounds like I’m dismissing females as untalented. On the contrary, I think many talented female performers drop out of the scene due to the perception that certain male performers will sell tickets and that creates a virtuous cycle in the industry. I’m glad someone is stepping up and intervening.

    1. Festivals tend to book a lot of “meh” acts… And if instead of booking a “meh” male, they can easily book a female. And even if that female is just “meh”, since females are underrepresented, a female “meh” artist mgith still end up being a much more exciting booking than a male “meh” artist.
      Chances are also that due to females having a harder time in the music world, that there are female artist, that are actually better and still cheaper than a lot of male “meh” artists.

  11. Normally these comments would piss me off but instead it’s just funny this time around. The founders, steering committees and/or boards of FORTY-FIVE SEPARATE FESTIVALS decide this is an idea worth pursuing and some idiot with a keyboard instantly assumes they know better.

  12. Pretty soon, LGBTQM—=0 will all get 50 percent reservations. Even in heaven, otherwise God is homophobic! The end and beginning of HG Wells’ prophecy of the Man worm….

  13. Very surprised at all the negative comments that seem to be speaking from the perspective: more women performers = lower quality / less talented performances. I think this gender balance pledge is a timely and needed thing especially if these are the primary Synthtopia reader perceptions. Talented women are under-represented in this industry – I think this commitment is a great idea!

    1. I think it’s more the annoyance factor.

      I have no problem with women getting opportunities, I support that in fact as any decent person should. But having diversity/gender/identify-as-a-[insert long string of adjectives here] gets stifling after a bit. Even though I support A, the constant self-righteousness, pity party, naming and shaming, etc gets me to the point of wanting to support B just as a way to say “f**k off and stop annoying me.”

      It’s one thing to be right. It’s another matter entirely about being an annoying pissant in the process.

        1. Wrong and right is irrelevant when it comes to culture wars, if things degrade down to violence — which they often do. Right now, extremists on both sides are having undue influence that if unchecked WILL lead to violence — from either conservative or liberals.

          Being flippant doesn’t make you clever, it makes you blind to the dangers around you.

    2. Not surprised at all. Go to events like knobcon and you’ll be see a staggering ratio of insecure nerdy white guys who are socially incompetent and think they’re better than everyone else. This particular interest is a perfect place for dudes like this to congregate. It’s why I follow the news (because I work in audio professionally) but almost never engage. I don’t want to interact with people like most of the commenters here. So yeah, I’m not at all surprised by this. I clicked on this story headline just so I could look at all their comments and laugh at them freaking out and feeling “oppressed.”

      When you’re privileged and someone attempts to balance it out, it feels like oppression. But it’s not.

      1. Obviously, you have no respect for th\e drivers of the electronic music industry. Calling out nerdy white males is like calling out women at a make-up store in Macy’s…men have historically used powder and make up too. You speak the newspeak of Bolshevism.

      2. From the poster Mark- “Go to events like knobcon and you’ll be see a staggering ratio of insecure nerdy white guys who are socially incompetent and think they’re better than everyone else.”Wow that might be the most blatant hypocrisy I’ve possibly ever seen in a statement ever. You judge and accuse a whole group of people who you refuse to interact with of thinking they are better than everyone else but that’s literally what you just did thinking you are better than them because they’re just “White nerds.” Well keep what you’re doing and just stay away from normal people I wouldn’t want to meet someone like you at an event like knobcon.

        1. FrodoSynthesis

          From your comments – defending the sausage-fest nature of events like Knobcon and arguing that people should boycott festivals that strive to be inclusive – it seems like you may have never participated in a festival or event where they did a good job of being inclusive.

          I go to Knobcon, and enjoy it. But it and many similar events are also bizarrely homogenized. To the point that, in five years, I have never seen a featured speaker or performer there that was not a white male.

          It doesn’t reflect the diversity of the electronic music scene at all.

          It almost has a “Stepford Wives“ quality about it, because it’s SO homogenized, and yet, hardly anybody seems to notice.

          I don’t think these events are homogenized because of conscious bias – it’s probably more just a reflection of who the organizers know.

          But go to Moogfest or Superbooth or Loop and you’ll see speakers and performers of all sorts, from all over the world. The events really benefit from that, too, because they’re choosing from a much broader pool of talent.

          I think it’s great to see more festivals and events trying to cast a wider net. If you’re not doing that, you’re going to end up with more of a white-bread event, and miss out on a lot of the flavor of what’s happening in the diverse world of electronic music.

  14. The argument that talent wins is utter bullshit. The music industry is full of men who got into it because they thought it would get them laid, having woman in this boys club is a threat so naturally white rawk music about girls and wanky guitar solo’s gets the limelight. the arts scene since the inclusion of woman (a century or so) has always labeled female art as “female art” and male art as real art.

  15. I’m another in the long list of commenters that says talent should be the number one criteria for booking but let’s face the facts….it’s 2018 and talent doesn’t mean anything. The only thing that matters to promoters is marketability and social media presence. What gets a large social media presence?? It’s not skills, it’s good looks and marketing. In the end, even though there will be more women on the roster, a majority will be no-talent hacks that are better at taking a selfie than beatmatching. Talent loses once again but hey, from a superficial standpoint at least there will be a bunch of attractive dj’s to stare at trainwrecking mixes while playing the Beatport top 10.

  16. And I thought the music news on Synthopia would be free of this dumb CNN “white male privilege” and social justice warrior rhetoric.
    This PC crap is like a Zombie movie. There is no end to its stupidity!

    Music is about talent and should solely be based on performance and talent. Since when are there more men than women in music? Since when are there more whites than blacks in music? Or yellows or browns or whatever… I never even asked myself this question!
    How about leaving identity politics OUT of music!

    1. To make my point more clear:
      As of today, anyone can make it in music, regardless of gender and colour.
      Diversity should never be forced upon with quotas!

      Identity politics should be left to the lunatics running the asylum.

    2. Awesome. Politics, identity politics are just dumb in music. Show me your music and then I’ll be the judge of that. CNN, and SJW snowflakes are ruining everything. Spoilt and entitled millennial demand equality not good music. Oh the irony of MARXISM.

    3. I agree. Identity politics is a black hole. As people have stated above what’s next? How about an enforced ratio of gay performers, and what about trans performers, and disabled performers, and what about race?

      How about we just get back to meritocracy plain and simple.

      I have been around DJs and performers my whole life and there has never been anything like a 50/50 ratio split in my experience. The females that were in the scene were championed and encouraged, it’s just that there weren’t as many that were interested in performing as men. I won’t speculate on the reason that is, but as in the debunked pay gap myth, gender is only one factor among many and a largely irrelevant one at that.

      Anyone who supports this is virtue signaling and nothing more.

    4. Not content with woman ruining festivals!! Now they are ruining synthtopia!!!!! Damn you libtard snowflakes!! I didn’t vote trump for this!!!

    1. “Who cares whats between your legs?”

      Based on statistics and facts, the people that have historically organized these events?

      Otherwise, why would they try to correct this?

  17. Positive discrimination is still discrimination. These organisations now will openly deny places based on the sex of the applicant, after a certaint amount of applicants of that sex have applied. Nothing todo with the skills or suitability of that person. How is this right?

    People should boycott these organisations for now being discriminatory.

  18. seems women did a good job. anyhow whats next? i heard the biggest discriminatory factors are family background > weight > height & looks. are we going to have now at least 50% ugly small and fat white trash in every festival ?

  19. It’s easy to say that there is no problems in the world ( or discrimination in electronic music ) when you are in the position of being in the race / gender / class with the most privilege.

    Why so angry white electronic music bros?
    Could you be insecure about your music / talent?

    Of course we are not going to see some kind of PC trend when it comes to booking artists for music festivals – nobody is going to be allowed on stage whom does not have the talent to be there…

    Seriously, how many peeps in these comments here have ever played live outside their bedrooms let alone one of the 45 festivals mentioned in he article?

    All of the white male anger that is being expressed here does nothing to reinforce your arguments – in fact it just shows that your angry insecure little boys,

    Let’s grow up and be real men for a change – art and music only gets better when everyone gets a seat at the table!

    1. Is it possible that I want to support women in the industry, would love to see a lot more, that about half of my favorite artists are women, that I understand what you are saying, but still find this problematic?

      I really really, genuinely want to see a less misogynist industry and culture, but FORCING a quota is worth discussing. And by discussing it, it doesn’t make me or anyone else part of the old guard or part of the problem.

      I would be interested to know what their SOPs or criteria will be when they have a choice between a male who is, lets say 75% favorable to audience (i’m using this as a less subjective measure than “talent”), gets bumped and replaced by someone who is 1% favorable to the audience, solely because of their gender. Or what do they do when not enough women apply for the spots…do they then cut the number of performers to get to the 50%? I don’t assume there are not enough talented or audience favored women out there. But I can imagine that this situation or similar might also still come up. And yes, if I am the human being that’s 75% favored and gets bumped, I might be angry – just as any identity of person should feel in that same situation. Furthermore, I don’t think the opposite situation would ever happen. At least I’d like to think that, a woman who was 75% more qualified than a 1% qualified man should be on the stage or get the job. But, maybe they still won’t, which is why there is a problem, and why this is complicated. However, Discussing in such a binary, one extreme or the other, name calling way, is not going to help.

      Though I despise the more misogynist comments above, I also have a problem with being told to “grow up” or assumed that because i think this is a problematic way to fix an issue, that I am an angry white man or “insecure little boy.” Does that make sense to you?

      1. Maybe things are just representative of how reality is. Anyone saying that women are repressed or kept away from the music business is delusional. Everybody here is aware that there are more women, say, in R&B than producing electronic music, and that is their choice. If you name the top ten R&B artists I guess that you will not find women underrepresented there, neither will you find any men complaining that there are too many female singers, or bass players for that matter (I can think of a few great female R&B bass players that don’t seem to lack male apreciation). So maybe everything lies in the choices women freely make, and their talent. Gender should not be a reason to choose a festival lineup, music and only music should.

      2. Festivals tend to have a lot of “filler” acts. These don’t draw in the crowd. Replacing them with slighly less popular arists would make little difference.
        If they book more female artists, at least they get a better mix (sometimes they will get more skilled acts for less money, because some female acts have to try harder and sacrifice more).
        Those filler acts that usually servers little point, if they are female acts, they may start to serve a point as becoming role-models for females. And thus over time improving the representation of females that can be booked for gigs.

  20. Everyone should boycott all of these festivals, even thought that’s probably not even necessary since no one is going to at all be interested in a lineup put together by politicians lol.

    1. If you pat yourself on the back for being a liberal and not liking Sean Hannity, you might want to set the bar a little higher for yourself.

      P.S. I cant stand Hannity myself, but don’t think that because you like synths, you must fit the mold and think in a certain acceptable way…do you?

  21. Synthtopia is one of the last places I’d expect to see people like that Tesla guy spew ant- white racism (When this article is only about gender in the first place, so he completely went off topic) and accuse a whole race of people as being “privileged” or somehow being oppressors when most of the white people I know can barely pay their bills. Seriously take any of the times that Tesla guy said something like “White Privilege” and replace it with any other race and it would be considered racist but according to the Marxist college professors “it’s impossible to be racist against white people.”

  22. The guys complaining about SJW’s and ‘identity politics’ are sure defensive about the bubble they live in!

    Next time you see a female musician, ask her if she’s had to deal with any of these things:

    Worrying how to get from a club to her car at 1am without getting raped;

    Being called ‘difficult’, because you told an employee at a venue to stop touching you;

    Knowing a promoter will never book you, because you graciously turned down his awkward come-ons;

    Getting stuck with crap sound, because the sound guy thinks women don’t understand audio gear;

    Dealing with asses who think you only got the gig because you’re a ‘girl’; or, possibly the worst…

    Getting booked for the ‘women/glbt/people of color’ stage.

    You really have to put the blinders on to think that musicians get featured at events purely because they make the best music.

  23. Everyone should vote with their wallet. Why would you want to support organizations that put politicians (liars and sociopaths, most of them) with musicians at the same level? This part to me is the most appealing.

    Sorry Wendy Carlos. No soup for you!

    1. How about non female or non male artists? Television tells me to not believe in a binary world anymore. Yet you see no problem with the toxicity this will create? New York City’s government recognizes 31 genders. BUT one can only be male or female if you are a musician now? Boy George! Where are you my friend?

  24. I love electronic music but I really have always hated the drugged out festival/rave scene, only someone brain damaged from way too much X would think this is a good idea lol. Imagine if they tried to pull this off in the Hardcore/Punk/Metal scene. hahahahaha It wouldn’t work because those scenes are full of free thinkers not a bunch of drugged out conformists.

  25. Their goal must be 100% talent, nor stupid things. The next step could be 50% blonde, boys and girls, of course.

  26. Two of the electronic music festivals I attend annually are in obscure places but have great performances and camaraderie. No performers are paid. In fact, they must pay for their own travel and lodgings, and they must also purchase a ticket to the event. However, the venue generally allows them one or two free beers, so you got that.

    Pretty much everyone who applies for a performance slot is accepted. For some strange reason there’s not many women. Why wouldn’t they want to invest in a lot of expensive gear, travel to a remote place, and pay for the privilege of performing? No idea.

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