- 12 Feb 20
In response to criticism of the Reading and Leeds Festival line-up's lack of non-male performers, the 1975 frontman asserted that from now on, he will no longer play gender-imbalanced festivals.
Matty Healy stated on Twitter today that the 1975 will only play gender-balanced music festivals from now on.
His statement was provoked by the Guardian's deputy music editor Laura Snapes, who pointed out the lack of diversity in Reading and Leeds Festival's lineup this year. Snapes stated that she was upset that Rage Against the Machine didn't use their leverage to demand equality on the bill, and dared Healy to add a condition to his rider that says he'll only play festivals that commit to X% acts that include women and non-binary performers.
And he agreed.
Healy quoted the tweet, adding: "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."
He added that his agents are probably freaking out about the statement, but time is up and people need to act on the gender imbalance in music.
He told the Guardian that he has hope that enough people fighting for equality in the music industry can truly make a tangible change. "When it comes to big sociopolitical issues and governments are involved, sometimes action or protest can just be ignored. But when it comes to the music industry, we can change that. It’s not a geopolitical nightmare: it’s the music industry, and it’s something that if everyone gets on board, we can fix."
On Reading and Leeds he said: "Point is that Reading and Leeds with more women would be honestly the best festival in the world that place is vibeyyy. Let’s not judge people and give the benefit of the doubt that people are going to start to listening."
Music festivals have been criticised in recent years for consistent exclusion of female and non-binary artists, especially among headlining acts. Pitchfork ran two reports in 2017 and 2018 tracking the diversity of (mostly American) large music festivals and found a massive disparity, with 74% of acts in 2017 being male and 70% in 2018. In most of those festivals, even the most balanced, male artists still dominated the top 10 headlining slots.
A group of 45 international festivals, including the Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City but not Reading and Leeds, pledged in 2017 that they would book gender-equal lineups by 2022. The organisation pushing the move toward equality, Keychange, is continuing to grow. Keychange announced their 2020 programme last month, including support for Irish acts Elaine Mai, SYLK and Pillow Queens.
All-women festivals like Kent's Native festival and London's Loud Women Fest are popping up in protest of the predominantly-male lineups. The 1975 will play a massive show in London's Finsbury Park that features seven support acts -- six of which are made up of exclusively female performers.
And while there is still despair among some of the biggest festivals -- there is proof that times are changing. Barcelona's high-profile Primavera Sound festival has once again reached the target number of 50% female performers, which it had also achieved last year.
Read Hot Press' interview with the 1975 here.