The latest industry news to your inbox.

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities


I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy


Iceland Airwaves 2018 closes gender gap

The Reykjavik festival, which has signed up to the Keychange initiative, will as of this year have a line-up featuring more female than male performers

By IQ on 30 Jul 2018

Singer-songwriter Sóley is one of the local female acts playing Airwaves 2018

Singer-songwriter Sóley is one of the local female acts playing Airwaves 2018

image © Ben Gruber

With its 2018 edition, taking place from 7 to 10 November, Iceland Airwaves becomes the first major music festival with a line-up that’s more than 50% female, its head of operations, Will Larnach-Jones, has revealed.

Airwaves is a signatory to the Keychange initiative, which commits nearly 100 festivals and conferences globally to achieving gender-balanced line-ups by 2022. According to Larnach-Jones, the Reykjavik festival has beaten that target by four years, with its 2018 line-up featuring at least as many female as male performers.

“We still have another round of acts to announce, but we’ll be over 50%,” he tells the New York Times. “It was almost back to front: We looked at people we really liked, and then in meetings said, ‘Do we have enough?’

“Happily we always did. That shows you don’t have to try hard – there [are] so many inspiring women around.”

“You don’t have to try hard – there are so many inspiring women around”

Alexander Schulz of Reeperbahn Festival – also a supporter of Keychange – says “the reasons for excuses [for not having a balanced line-up] are getting shorter year by year”, although he cautions that the industry still has a way to go. “There is a great deal of [resistance to] booking as many female acts as male acts,” he tells the Times. “Even female bookers tell me that they are frightened of an economic failure for their festival if they would do so, because popular and well-selling acts out there in the market are mainly male.”

Iceland Airwaves 2018 performers announced so far include Blood Orange, Alma, Superorganism, Stereo Honey and Fever Ray, as well as popular local artists Sóley, Hildur and Young Karin. Airwaves was acquired earlier this year by Icelandic promoter Sena Live, which said it plans to take the festival back to its roots by showcasing emerging Icelandic talent, rather than focusing on booking big international names.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.