Where Are All The Female Music Festival Headliners?

Article by: Adrian Spinelli

Fri May 20, 2016 | 00:00 AM


These days, when I look at the lineups of amazing summer music festivals all over the U.S. and throughout Europe, my eyes gravitate to the top, where I'm always hoping to see some female-fronted acts break through to the headlining slots. But again this year, I'm disappointed at how male-heavy these bills are at the top. And why is that? Why does the absence of female headliners continue to be a trend at major music festival every year? 

Coachella , arguably the most influential music festival in the U.S., has only had two female headliners in its 16 year existence: Bj√∂rk. Twice. Outside Lands , California's 2nd largest music fest has never had a female headliner (unless you count two members of Arcade Fire back in 2011.) And this isn't just a factor we see in the U.S., as this year's Primavera SoundLeeds, Bestival, Isle of Wight, etc., all lack a female headlining act. The glimmer of hope is in Glastonbury's booking of Adele as their 2016 headliner and here's hoping she paves the way for others like her in the future. 

While I'm an Associate Editor here at Fest300 , I also host the Noise Pop Podcast based out of San Francisco, and in our latest episode, San Francisco Chronicle journalist Alyssa Pereira joined me to talk about what mechanisms are at work that continue to leave big-name female artists off the tops of festival bills. We discuss this, offer some possible solutions, and breakdown some female artists we think could easily hold it down as a festival headliner. Listen in and let us know what you think in the comments below: