The Representation of Women at Electronic Music Festivals
By Caro Churchill
As a female artist operating in this field of the music industry, I like to keep abreast of latest research. And a very interesting recent study shows how the land lies for women in the lucrative field of electronic music festivals. International support network and database Female Pressure consists of female DJs, Vjs, electronic musicians, sound artists, sound engineers, academics and other diverse professionals involved in the post club culture industry and vibrant scenes in most cities.
As a collective endeavour, active members of the Female Pressure network submitted statistics for festivals they were aware of. And then, collating all these findings, they produced a report and graphic representation clearly demonstrating their informal research using music faders and ven diagrams. Some countries fared better than others - the UK was not the best for gender representation with women making up ten per cent of the artists performing. And quite surprisingly perhaps, Germany did not fair much better despite the assumption that there are more female DJs and artists active especially in Berlin.
Overall, the study showed over eighty percent of festival artists were male and less than ten per cent were female - the rest were acts made of men and women. So what can be done about this? One solution put forward has been festivals representing only female artists. The aim of this would be to make a statement that there are many female artists out there that can entertain an audience. However there is an argument against this approach as this can still lead to separation and lack of integration in the male dominated rosters. There are wonderful examples of festivals and collectives that strive for a more representative and diverse offer of live and DJ acts - LEM festival in Barcelona was one of these though this sadly no longer exists.
Female Pressure have decided for this year to present an all female line up in Berlin to boldly highlight the quantity and quality of women working in the electronic music industry. Future festivals will however focus on aiming for a 50-50 male female ratio as increased female acts at electronic music festivals seems the most effective way forward. There are many interesting and most capable female live performers and DJs, one only has to use your favourite search engine to find this out. And more importantly audiences deserve a varied and reflective range of performances when they have invested in a ticket for an event.
Caro C is an independent electronic music producer and performer currently based in Manchester, UK. She is often asked about the under-representation of women in electronic music and audio engineering and contributes to research on this topic.
Caro C will perform at the first Perspectives Festival to be held in Berlin in September 2013.