The 2020 lineup for the Reading and Leeds Festival was announced this week.
Although a headline slot from the recently reunited Rage Against the Machine has been causing a positive buzz, many people were quick to point out the glaring gender imbalance. Of the 91 acts slated to perform at the major English festival, only 20 of them are women.
Guardian deputy music editor Laura Snapes shared her thoughts on the matter, tweeting "By this stage we can conclusively assume that [managing director of Reading and Leeds promotion company] Melvin Benn doesn't give a s--t about representation."
The 1975 frontman Matty Healy chimed in to say, although he thought RATM is a "dope booking," he agreed with Snapes' comment. Snapes then responded: "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 swiftly obliged. "Take this as me signing this contract," he responded. "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[s] can be true allies."
The 1975, one of the world's most beloved active rock bands right now, committing to only playing gender-balanced festivals is a major step towards equality in the music industry. They've been staples in festival lineups since their beginning, even headlining Reading and Leeds last year. They're a highly-coveted booking, and, hopefully, their commitment to stick with festivals that equally represent artists who aren’t male will motivate more festivals to think critically about the representation in their lineups and encourage other artists to instill similar ultimatums.
Though some think gender-balanced festival lineups are unrealistic, it's been proven possible. Primavera in Barcelona reached their target of 50 percent women and non-binary performers last year and have hit that target again for their 2020 lineup. Other UK festivals have committed to the increasingly-popular Keychange initiative, in which festival organizers pledge to reach a gender-balanced lineup by 2022.
Healy said it best: "Reading and Leeds with more women would be honestly the best festival in the world."