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Industry pros back Safe Spaces Now initiative

UK artists, festivals and industry professionals have signed a new pledge to improve safety for women at live music events.

Emily Eavis/Glastonbury Festival, The Eden Project, Strawberries & Creem, Dice and DJ Clara Amfo, as well as artists Rudimental, Paloma Faith, Anne-Marie, Mabel and Beverley Knight, are among the signatories to an open letter launching Safe Spaces Now, created by UN Women UK to push for a safe and inclusive concert environment for both genders post-pandemic.

As part of the initiative, UN Women UK has drawn up more than 150 solutions for ‘safe spaces’ for concerts, nightlife and festivals, including redesigning venues, addressing behaviour within them, inclusion within staff teams, and training to recognise potential abuse and respond appropriately.

The first Safe Spaces Now pilot event will be Strawberries & Creem festival from 18 to 19 September, with organisers promising festivalgoers a “safety-focused strategy in close collaboration with UN Women UK” at the Cambridge event.

Claire Barnett, executive director of UN Women UK, part of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, says: “As live events return following the Covid pandemic, women and marginalised people everywhere are not only thinking about staying safe from the virus – they want to be able to enjoy their right to music, arts and culture without constant fears of violence and harassment.

“We have a unique opportunity as we return from lockdown to reconsider the way we construct and use our public spaces”

“We have a unique opportunity as we return from lockdown to reconsider the way we construct and use our public spaces to be safer for the long term. UN Women UK is pleased to partner with Strawberries & Creem on this first Safe Spaces Now live event, and we hope many more representatives from the music industry will follow suit and commit to helping us build a more equitable future.”

According to a 2018 YouGov poll, over 40% of women under 40 have experienced some kind of unwanted sexual behaviour at a British music festival.

“We’re passionate about ensuring our events are welcoming, inclusive and safe spaces for people to enjoy music together. Festivals should offer joy and hope to everyone, and they are absolutely no place for harassment or abuse of any form,” says Chris Jammer, co-founder of Strawberries & Creem.

“Equality and diversity are values close to our hearts, and we’re proud to have a gender-balanced line-up this year, as well as to be working with UN Women UK on this crucial initiative. We hope that together, we can set a blueprint for what safe spaces should look like for festivals moving forward – for all of our audience, as well as our artists and staff.”

Festivals, events, promoters, venues and other live music organisations are invited to sign the pledge and register their support for the Safe Spaces Now initiative, after which UN Women UK will follow up to discuss your commitments.


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We Are Ops, female-led operations firm, launches

We Are Ops, a new female-led event operations, safety and people management business, has launched in the UK.

Created by senior female staff at London-based We Are the Fair, an event production company which has worked on festivals including Field Day, Gala, Kisstory, Camp Wildfire and El Dorado, We Are Ops aims to boost gender diversity in what can still often feel like a “macho industry”, according to We Are Ops director and We Are the Fair head of production Yasmin Galletti.

“Since I started out in the industry 12 years ago, we’ve seen the workforce on site and behind the scenes become more balanced, but it still feels women are working in the shadows, not being given the platform or recognition that they deserve for their work,” Galletti explains.

“I feel proud and blessed to be part of a company that celebrates the female attitude towards event operations”

The We Are Ops team have 150 years of combined experience, with other members including health and safety advisors Sarah Tew and Francesca Boden and operations manager Jan Rankou.

The company offers services including licensing, traffic and security planning, safety management, sustainability consulting, risk assessments, crowd and capacity planning and accessibility and inclusion.

“I feel proud and blessed to be part of a company that celebrates the female attitude towards event operations,” continues Galletti, “especially in the area of health and safety, which is still a very male-led faction of the industry.”


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International Women’s Day: Live biz marks IWD 2021

Companies and associations from across the live music business have celebrated International Women’s Day (8 March) by paying tribute to inspiring female staff members, executives, performers and role models.

Established in the early 20th century, International Women’s Day (IWD) is held annually to commemorate the achievements of women, as well as to draw attention to ongoing issues around gender equality and women’s rights. Among the live music organisations participating in IWD 2021 are LIVE, the new umbrella organisation for the UK live music industry, which ran the #LIVEtogether campaign on social media, spotlighting female members of its constituent associations.

The LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment) profiles included members of including the Concert Promoters Association, Association of Independent Festivals, Music Managers Forum, Production Services Association and more.

Using the hashtag #WomenToTheFront, LIVE member Music Venue Trust and its members will, throughout the week, highlight the work of women “who are vital to the grassroots music community”.

Music Venue Trust (MVT)’s head of events, projects and communications, Sarah Claudine, explains: “It’s incredibly important to Music Venue Trust to be using International Women’s Day 2021 as an opportunity to celebrate the women who play such an important role in the UK’s grassroots music industry. We are very proud to have so many remarkable women contribute to MVT, from our core team and coordinators to our board of trustees and patrons, and know that this diversity is reflective of the changing face of the wider live music community.”

MVT recently announced six new patrons, all women working in the music industry: rock duo Nova Twins, Welsh post-punk trio Adwaith, DJs Moxie and HAAi, singer-songwriter Kerri Watt, and booking agent Natasha Gregory (née Bent).

“From tour managers to merchandise sellers, venue owners to sound engineers, and members of my own band, I’ve experienced first hand the heart and soul that the women in our industry put in to live music,” says Watt. “I see my colleagues as role models, giving younger women the confidence to get more involved in live music and work within an industry they’re really passionate about.”

“It’s incredibly important … to be using IWD 2021 as an opportunity to celebrate the women who play such an important role in the grassroots music industry”

Similarly running content throughout the week is Liverpool Sound City, which is hosting a slate of IWD-themed programming both on its Facebook page and its dedicated Guesthouse streaming platform.

Today it streamed a Keychange-presented showcase featuring emerging female artists on Guesthouse, while a Keychange conference co-hosted by the Sound City Facebook page included panels on the gender gap and equality initiatives and a keynote interview with Keychange ambassador Kate Nash. More content is planned through Friday.

Sound City MD Rebecca Ayres says: “International Women’s Day is an important day in the calendar in terms of both lifting women into the spotlight and promoting awareness around the gender inequality that still exists in the music industry.

“But the fight for greater equality needs to be constant and, indeed, for Sound City, the commitments we have made as the lead UK Keychange festival are year-round commitments, with gender equality being a key aspect of our festivals, conferences and training. We look forward to celebrating women in music on International Women’s Day and beyond.”

“We need more women executives and female artists on our rosters”

Live Nation France chose to recognise its female staff with a special video, titled Les Femmes de Live Nation, which premiered on Instagram TV, while its UK sister company worked with Swedish singer-songwriter Zara Larsson on a free IWD live stream premiering at 7pm GMT:

At West End theatre operator LW Theatres, a special feature, ’West End Women’, shines a light “on some of the stars who run the show”.

The company, which operates celebrated concert venue the London Palladium, also revealed it has changed the traditionally masculine titles of its production jobs to gender-neutral equivalents, with master carpenter becoming head of stage engineering and dayman ‘first grade electrician’:

For Australia’s Mushroom Group, IWD provided the perfect opportunity for the women of the company to pay tribute to its late founder, Michael Gudinski, who was known as an advocate for women in live music.

“I did the first Australian Go-Gos and Bangles tours in the ’80s. That’s when I realised that, on the road, the girls were no different to the boys,” he recalled last year. “It further encouraged my belief that we need more women executives and female artists on our rosters.”

“He just gave women a go,” remembers Australian broadcaster Jane Gazzo. “Everyone says they have a Michael Gudinski story because he had time for all of us,” she told ABC Radio. “We’ve all had a piece of our heart ripped out this week.”

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LN’s Femme it Forward launches mentor programme

Femme it Forward, the Live Nation-backed, female-led live entertainment company, has announced the launch of Next Gem Femme, a new mentorship programme for young women of colour.

According to the company, which launched as female-led event series in 2019, Next Gen Femme aims to help “the many people looking for meaningful actions to improve equity in their industries and workplaces”. The programme is designed to pair emerging talent with women who are at the forefront of their fields, and includes mentors from Live Nation, CAA, Maverick Management, WME, ICM Partners, Spotify, YouTube, Columbia Records and more.

Each mentorship will start with a one-year partnership, with the opportunity to extend. The mentee experience will include both “real-time projects and scenarios” and coaching, CV-building and networking opportunities.

“If we can help more women pay it forward there’s no telling how much we can accomplish together”

“Women succeed when we support each other, and as a company dedicated to celebrating the depth, power and talent of women in music and entertainment, we have a special responsibility to cultivate the next generation of female leaders in the workplace,” comments Heather Lowery, founder and CEO of Femme it Forward. “We are at a pivotal moment for progress, and if we can help more women pay it forward there’s no telling how much we can accomplish together.”

The inaugural programme will include 200 female mentees of colour who are either pursuing undergraduate/graduate degrees or working in entry-level positions. At least 100 of the 200 mentee spots will go to students from ‘historically black colleges and universities’, while mentees will also be able to apply for scholarships, book stipends, food stipends and other financial aid.

The application process for Next Gen Femme will begin in May, in time for the programme’s August 2021 launch. For more information, or to apply, visit


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Female-first Swiss Music Directory launches

Helvetiarock, a Swiss association and networking platform pushing for gender equality in the live music industry, has launched a national ‘Music Directory’ of women and non-binary people working in music.

The resource, located at, aims to boost female/non-binary representation both on and off stage, including promoters, producers, agents, sound engineers and artists, by providing a centralised resource of non-male industry professionals.

“Only 10–20% of people on, and behind [the] stage, are women,” Laurence Desarzens, president of Swiss Music Export, told Radio Vostok.

The association, launched in 2009, aims to have 1,000 registrations by 20 November.

“This platform allows us to make ourselves visible, to take our place”

“This platform allows us to make ourselves visible, to take our place,” comments artist Elodie Romain, the coordinator of the Music Directory for Francophone Switzerland. “It’s a place to exchange information and advice on the best equipment, the representation of artists, or the skills needed to break through as a producer, and also a place to launch new projects.

Other artist supporters of the campaign include Flèche Love, Stefanie Heinzmann, Steff La Cheffe (pictured) and Msoke.

The launch of the Swiss Music Directory follows that of Live Nation’s Black Tour Directory, which aims to increase representation for black professionals in the US, last month.


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Live Nation, AEG report UK gender pay gap stats

Several UK-based live music businesses have voluntarily reported their most recent gender pay gap (GPG) statistics.

Despite the government ruling early into the Covid-19 pandemic that companies do not have to meet the deadline this year, Live Nation UK, AEG Europe and Ticketmaster UK have shared their pay gap data for the 12 months from 5 April 2019.

From 2017, all companies in mainland Britain with more than 250 employees have been required to report their GPG – defined as the “difference in the average hourly wage of all men and women across a workforce” – for the previous year to the government equalities office.

However, with that requirement on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, many of the companies which appeared on last year’s list, including SMG/ASM Global, Academy Music Group, NEC Group, DHP Family and PRS for Music, have not reported their statistics this year. Global, meanwhile, is no longer in the festival game, and its successor entities do not hire more than 250 people.

This article will be updated if any of the companies that are missing add their GPG reports at a later date. For now, though, here are pay gap statistics – as well as links to the full reports – for the four companies which voluntarily met the original deadline…


Live Nation (Live Nation (Music) UK Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 44.5% (-44.3%)
Pay gap (median): 25.7% (+11.7%)

Live Nation UK slashed its mean pay gap (the difference in average hourly wage across the entire company) to 44.5% in 2019–2020 – the lowest figure since GPG reporting began in the UK in 2017. However, its median GPG (the gap between the middle-paid man and middle-paid woman) grew slightly.

Women occupy 36% of the highest-paid jobs and 72% of the lowest-paid jobs, while median bonus pay is 41.2% lower for women.


Ticketmaster (Ticketmaster UK Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 25.9% (-41.1%)
Pay gap (median): 28.9% (+25.7%)

At Ticketmaster, it’s a similar picture to parent company Live Nation, with a drastic reduction in the mean GPG but a slight widening of the median gap. At 25.9%, the pay gap across the entire organisation is also the narrowest it’s ever been.

Women occupy 21% of the highest-paid and 43% of the lowest-paid jobs; on average, women’s bonus pay is 32% lower than men’s (on a median basis).


AEG (Anschutz Sports Holdings Ltd)

Pay gap (mean): 34.5% (-20.9%)
Pay gap (median): 39% (+6%)

In the most recent 12-month epriod, AEG Europe had a mean pay gap of 34.5% (down 20.9% on 2018’s 43.6%), meaning the UK’s big two live entertainment companies both reported their lowest average GPGs since reporting began.

At AEG UK, women occupy 34% of the best-paid jobs and 59% of the lowest-paid jobs, while women’s median bonuses are 15.6% lower.



Pay gap (mean): -9.6%
Pay gap (median): -16.8%

Performance rights organisation PPL PRS Ltd, a joint venture between PRS for Music and PPL, had a negative gender pay gap – or a GPG in favour of women – in 2019/20.

Women occupy 49.1% of the highest-paid jobs and 27.3% of the lowest-paid, while a bonus gap of 0% means men and women take home the same average bonus pay.


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Lizzo, Billie, Lil Nas X to make Grammys debut

The 62nd annual Grammy Awards are taking place on Sunday (26 January) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, celebrating artists across 33 categories.

Live performances on the night will come from record of the year nominees Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus, as well as K-pop stars BTS, EDM DJ Diplo and singer Mason Ramsey.

Other nominees including Lizzo, Billie Eilish, Bon Iver, Ariana Grande, H.E.R. and Tyler the Creator will also perform on the night.

Over 173 nominations have been put forward for this year’s awards, which has seen its fair share of controversy this year due to allegations levelled by suspended CEO Deborah Dugan. Using data from Rostr, IQ takes a look at the major trends this year’s Grammys.


There are some usual suspects among the nominees for a few of the biggest categories. Last year’s best pop vocal album winner Ariana Grande is up for the prize for a fourth time, going up against Taylor Swift, who is on the lookout for her first win in the category after three nominations.

In the best dance album category, the Chemical Brothers are nominated for the sixth time – including two wins – for No Geography, whereas Flume sees his second nomination, following a win in 2017.

Lizzo is the artist with the highest number of nominations, appearing in eight categories, including best new artist, song of the year, album of the year and record of the year. Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X have also fared well, receiving six nominations apiece. Of the top eight most nominated artists, five are women, with H.E.R, Ariana Grande and Yola also appearing in multiple categories.

Overall, however, fewer than one in three nominated artists are women

Overall, however, fewer than one in three nominated artists are women, with male artists making up almost 60% of nominees and 10% comprising acts with a mix of male and female artists. Two award categories – best rap album and best electronic album – consist of purely male artists.

The best pop vocal album and best new artist categories feature predominantly female nominees, 80% and 70% respectively, with best country album (60%) and album of the year (57%) also weighted towards female artists.

Over the past 20 years, more than twice as many nominations have been for male artists than female, with women outnumbering men in just two categories this century – best new artist and best pop vocal album.

Last year’s Grammy Awards, which saw artificial intelligence correctly predict Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’ song of the year win, with Kacey Musgraves picking up album of the year, Dua Lipa winning best new artist and Ariana Grande taking best pop vocal album.

Photo: Andy Witchger/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Record ticket sales for Primavera Sound 20

This week’s line-up announcement for the 20th-anniversary Primavera Sound has led to “the most significant surge in sales in the history” of the Barcelona festival, with more than 10,000 tickets sold in the space of 24 hours, according to organisers.

Tickets for Primavera Sound Barcelona went on sale at 10am local time yesterday (16 January) via new ticketing partner Dice, on the back of positive press for its 2020 line-up, which features 211 artists from 35 countries, including the likes of the Strokes, Massive Attack, Iggy Pop, Lana Del Rey, Kacey Musgraves, Tyler the Creator, Beck, Bikini Kill and Disclosure.

As in 2019, when Primavera called time on “pale, male and stale” festival bills, the Primavera Sound 20 line-up is gender-balanced, with at least as many female performers as male.

“Primavera Sound wants to thank the audience, the media and the sponsors for the enthusiastic reaction to a line-up that is committed to uniqueness and to artistic independence,” reads a statement from promoter Primavera Sound SL.

“[This] line-up is committed to uniqueness and to artistic independence”

Primavera Sound Barcelona is – alongside festivals in Oporto, Los Angeles and Benidorm – one of four Primavera Sound events planned for the tastemaking festival’s 20th year. (A fifth, in London, was called off late last year.)

Taking place on Barcelona’s waterfront at the Parc del Fòrum, the festival has added an extra day for Primavera Sound 20, which will run from 3 to 7 June. The closing party on 7 June will extend the electronic Primavera Bits programme to another day, and feature beachfront DJ sets by Disclosure, Nina Kraviz, Black Coffee and more.

Full festival tickets are priced initially at €195 plus booking fee (increasing once 80% are sold) and available exclusively from Dice.

See the full Primavera Sound Barcelona 2020 line-up below:

Primavera Sound 2020 line-up


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HearHer Festival: Redressing the balance

I am only just recovered from the intense adrenaline rush of putting on a three-day music festival. The inaugural HearHer Festival took place in a rainy holiday park in Poole, Dorset, in the UK, on the weekend of 11–13 October. I’ve felt emotionally and physically battered but so, so happy at what my team and I achieved.

HearHer Festival is a music festival with an all-female line-up. It’s a statement against the gender imbalance in music festival line-ups in the UK and abroad.

The percentage of women-fronted bands or female solo artists at Download last year was just 3%; at Trnsmt it was 11%, Kendal Calling 14% and Glastonbury 29%, just to mention a few, according to Ann’s Cottage’s British Festival Report. The average – between the UK and the US, at all major festivals – was coming out at 19% in total.

With the Keychange initiative at PRS making festivals rethink their bookings, this year has seen significant improvements, especially with Glastonbury wowing us with 42% female-fronted or solo artists on their bill. But Emily Eavis was recently quoted as saying that while she would love to book women in the top slots at Glastonbury, “the pool isn’t big enough. Everyone’s hungry for women but they’re just not there.”

Huge talent absolutely is there, but women are not being given the slots to hone their performances – they are not being nurtured from the off.

HearHer is not a novelty ‘woke’ response to male-dominated festival bills, but a celebration of talent

HearHer is more than just a weekend of music; HearHer is part of a movement. We also support women in production and sound engineering and want to provide apprenticeship opportunities for the engineers coming through. After being a victim myself of the PledgeMusic collapse just this last year, I want to also be able to provide artist bursaries towards the costs of artists’ first EPs/albums.

This festival is about women uniting with a clarion voice to say that this has to change across the board. At the festival, Soak said that booking women should not just be a novelty; it should be commonplace. I want HearHer to remain the small, boutique festival it is today but be a nurturing space from which bigger festivals can pluck our artists and take them to the next level.

HearHer is not a novelty ‘woke’ response to male-dominated festival bills but a celebration of talent, and a platform that hasn’t currently been provided. HearHer was never about excluding men – we wanted them to attend and many did, along with kids and even dogs! We provide a safe space for everyone, and the feeling at our little festival, I think, was unique.

I am excited at the prospect, in a few years – when we have reached a parity in festival line-ups, or close to – of welcoming the first male artists or male-led bands to HearHer. I think that would be really something to celebrate.


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Keychange 2.0 unveiled at Reeperbahn Festival

Artists Kate Nash and Peaches revealed details of the next phase of music industry gender parity project Keychange at Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg today (19 September).

A presentation, hosted by Kate Nash and Peaches alongside Pitchfork editor Puja Patel, laid out the foundations for the next four-year stage of the project. A new management structure, headed up by lead partner Reeperbahn Festival, was also announced.

The news follows the recent announcement that the gender balance initiative received €1.4 million in funding from the European Commission.

Keychange 2.0 will support 216 music creators and industry professionals – 74 each year – from countries including Canada, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The participants will take part in a talent development programme of showcases, panels, workshops, training sessions, networking events and creative labs at 13 festivals across Europe and Canada, including two full network meetups in February and September.

A global database will list all participants and the more than 250 signatories to Keychange’s 50/50 gender-balanced line-up pledge, as well as a mentoring scheme, Keychange conference, online resources, ambassadors and an expanded management team.

“Its encouraging to see all these organisations involved with Keychange because it means that things can finally start to change,” says Nash. “Music is about feeling part of a community and feeling included – it’s about being seen and heard.”

“Its encouraging to see all these organisations involved with Keychange because it means that things can finally start to change”

An open call for Keychange 2.0 participants will launch in October 2019 through the initiative’s website. “Innovative and boundary-pushing” applicants from all partner countries are encouraged to apply. Six participants will be selected per country – three artists and three industry professionals.

Reeperbahn Festival, alongside other leading festival partners from each country – Iceland Airwaves (Iceland), BIME (Spain), Oslo World (Norway), Tallinn Music Week (Estonia), Ireland Music Week (Ireland), Way Out West (Sweden), Linecheck (Italy), Liverpool Sound City (UK), Spring Break (Poland) Mutek (Canada), BreakOut West (Canada) and MAMA (France) – will each host six to twelve international Keychange participants.

“With Keychange 1.0, we have been addressing the necessity of gender equality in the music business since 2017,” comments Reeperbahn chief executive Alex Schulz.

“Phase 2.0 not only extends Pledge 2022 for balanced line-ups in festivals to other organisations and music sub-markets, but also expands our mentoring programmes and workshops as well as the European database, so that our innovators and artists can implement the transformative power of Keychange in the best possible way and carry it out into the world.”

Reeperbahn will work closely with Keychange founder PRS Founder and Sweden’s Musikcentrum Öst to lead Keychange 2.0.


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