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FR, PRS Foundation reveal 2019 ReBalance finalists

Festival Republic and PRS Foundation have announced that Luna, Lady Sanity and Martha Hill are the first 2019 finalists for ReBalance, a programme providing five days’ recording time to a female artist or female-led band, as well as a slot at a Festival Republic or Live Nation Festival.

Launched in 2017, ReBalance aims to combat the gender imbalance within the music industry, providing support to UK-based core female-identified bands and artists, as well as offering studio apprenticeships to women wanting to become sound engineers.

Artists and engineers eligible for the scheme are nominated to a panel of industry experts who select their choices. A quarterly selection panel then shortlists and chooses the successful artists and engineers. One successful artist applicant is selected each month.

The first finalists for this year are Liverpool-based electronic pop artist Luna, Birmingham rapper Lady Sanity – set to perform at Wireless Festival this year –, and Newcastle’s Martha Hill, a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist.



Finalists have the opportunity to showcase their talents every few months at the ReBalance Sessions.

Candidates from last year’s programme include Dublin’s Æ MAK, who are booked to play Reading and Leeds festivals this year and have signed with Primary Talent’s Matt Bates.

Lazy Day, another 2018 finalist, will soon release their new EP Letters, recorded as part of the ReBalance programme, and will appear at Latitude festival this year. The band’s founder and lead singer, Tilly Scantlebury, will speak on the International Live Music Conference’s diversity panel on Thursday 7 March.

Recent reports from BBC news and the University of Southern California Annenberg Inclusion Initiative have highlighted the continuing gender imbalance within the live music industry and the need for initiatives that address the lack of parity between male and female artists and crew members.


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Why gender diversity leads to better business

2017 looks like the year when the industry finally started walking the talk about amplifying women’s voices, both on and off stage.

In June, Spotify’s Daniel Ek and Max Martin launched the Equalizer Project, which focuses on increasing the number of female songwriters; in August, Melvin Benn’s Festival Republic announced ReBalance, a three-year project aimed at addressing the chronic gender imbalance in the music industry; and in October, PRS Foundation went live with Keychange, a European project that will empower 60 female artists and industry innovators. Meanwhile, many Scandinavian festivals are already committed to a 50:50 gender-balanced bill.

Anders Wahren, of Roskilde Festival in Denmark, said: “We try to inspire – through the very talented artists we have on our stages; through the work we do with organisations and underground promoters such as Freemuse, Girls are Awesome and Femtastic; and by having debates and talks with artists such as Madame Gandhi and Princess Nokia at this year’s festival. We can encourage our audience, upcoming artists and potential future artists, by supporting campaigns for more girls to pick up an instrument, and setting up summer camps for girls. There is a lot to be done that does not start with the big festival stages – but the beauty of it all is that when we, as a non-profit festival, fund causes like this, we actually also help develop the future headliners that we will be presenting in five to ten years.”

These initiatives are to be applauded, and are clear signs that the 21st-century music industry has finally realised that there are huge business advantages to be gained from promoting women on stage and behind the curtain. All the research reports that diverse teams of people are more creative, more dynamic, and more profitable to an organisation than homogenous teams, which in the music industry’s case – and in many others – means middle-aged, Western, white men. It makes good business sense to fully capitalise on the talents of the entire workforce. It makes good commercial sense to design festival bills that reflect the diversity of consumers and the multicultural society we live in.

Progress on gender equality and diversity is not an either/or – the work needs to progress in parallel. Both need targets and strategic plans if they are to change the mix of leadership teams. Both are at different levels. BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) staff struggle to reach middle management in numbers, and women hit the wall at middle management, so a talent pipeline needs to be built.

“The working culture was designed by men in the middle of the last century”

Here, unconscious bias recruitment and mentoring is key: if you can see it, you can believe it.

Digital technology has transformed our lives and yet its potential to transform our working lives, known as ‘smart working,’ is still to be realised in most music biz offices. The working culture was designed by men in the middle of the last century, and it’s based on command and control, presenteeism, an obsession with process, the jacket on the back of the chair, the need for the boss to look out at his team. Modern companies are task-and-output focused – employees are encouraged to work flexibly, and they are trusted and given responsibility: if you can’t trust your team, then why are they working for you? Smart working increases access to a much broader range of people, for whom working in an office five days a week is not practical or desirable. In 2014, government legislation was introduced giving every employee the right to flexible working – who knew?

Smart working is a proven game-changer for creating a diverse and more gender-equal workforce, and it allows a more balanced work/home life, which, thankfully, is a huge priority for Generation Y – the days of the macho, stay-in-the-office-all-hours type are thankfully dying out, as are the industry’s old guard.

The music industry is largely made up of small- to medium-sized companies that often have no HR function and certainly no company manuals, hence knowledge about employee rights, such as shared parental leave, can be sketchy. This is an area that should be addressed with the utmost urgency and requested by staff.

The future is looking bright, in the hands of a new generation of leaders who grew up with diversity, increasing gender equality and a life that has balance. Everyone has a part to play in bringing this change.


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“Something needs to be done”: FR launches ReBalance

Festival Republic has announced the launch of ReBalance – a three-year funding scheme that aims to combat the “gender imbalance within the music industry” by providing free studio time, and a slot at a Live Nation festival, to female artists or female-led bands.

The programme, supported by PRS Foundation, will also help women into sound engineering – also a male-dominated profession – by offering studio apprenticeships to wannabe engineers.

A recent PRS Foundation study found women represent just 16% of songwriters and composers in the UK, and that the industry is seen as an “almost entirely male ‘closed shop’” to women.

Sexism rife in UK biz, finds study

Artists and engineers eligible for the ReBalance scheme – in the case of the former, that includes all who “identify as women”, while bands must feature female members who are “fundamental to the writing or producing duties” – will be nominated a panel of industry experts invited by Festival Republic and PRS Foundation to nominate their choices.

A quarterly selection panel, which includes Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn, Live Nation’s Kelly Chappel, Coda’s Natasha Bent, Dice’s Jen Long, ATC Live’s Isla Angus, journalist Alexis Petridis, artist Nadine Shah and The Guardian’s Laura Barton, will then shortlist and select the successful artists and engineers.

Successful artist applicants – of which there will be one per month in 2018, 2019 and 2020 – will be provided with a week’s recording time, accommodation and travel to the studio, and a festival slot at a Live Nation or Festival Republic event.

Two successful engineers will train as apprentices at Old Chapel Music Studios in Leeds, first (for 18 months) as apprentices then as lead/co-engineers.

Reading and Leeds Festivals, promoted by Festival Republic, have in recent years attracted flak for their overwhelming male line-ups: in June, The Independent reported the festivals have been 95% male for the past decade.

“This is a project that gives a step up from start to finish”

“Something needs to be done about gender equality in the music industry,” said Benn today. “It’s a wider issue that involves us – the live industry – but the solution doesn’t rest only with us. I have decided to be proactive in changing and working towards this no longer being an issue in the future, and that’s what this project is about.

“We’ve been working closely with PRS Foundation and their Women Make Music programme, alongside Old Chapel studios in Leeds, to pull together this exciting new initiative. ReBalance will enable future, and current female musicians within the industry, to have the support they need in order to be recognised.

“There is a significant lack of female acts with recording contracts and, indeed, airplay; it’s quite astonishing. Artists like Maggie Rogers, Halsey (pictured), Zara Larsson and Ray BLK are all playing festivals and succeeding in the music industry, so in that respect there has been a surge comparably to previous years – but all these artists have a very mainstream presence. Mainstream pop doesn’t seem to have an issue, but the festival environment caters for all genres; hence this being a wider problem. Shockingly, there has been only one UK no1 single this year from a female solo artist: Ariana Grande’s ‘One Last Time’.

“[Almost 80%] of the applicants to the Women Make Music programme have said the support they had made a significant impact on their confidence, which proves that targeted approaches like ReBalance may well be the answer to correcting this imbalance.

“This is a project that gives a step up from start to finish.”


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Sexism rife in UK biz, finds study

More than three quarters of women working in the British music industry have experienced sexism, according to new report by PRS Foundation.

PRS Foundation, the charitable foundation run by UK performance rights organisation PRS for Music, last week released its most recent Women Make Music evaluation report, outlining the progress made by the initiative since its launch in 2011. Women Make Music aims to “raise awareness of the gender gap amongst songwriters and composers”, “encourage more female music creators to come forward for funding”, “increase the profile of women who are creating new music in the UK” and “support role models for future generations”.

Among its findings were that 78% of interviewees had experienced sexism in the music industry, and that many female creators feel “pigeonholed: often, for example, as performers rather than writers and producers, or as sexual objects rather than artists”.

“Our key aim at PRS Foundation is to enable composers and songwriters of all backgrounds to realise their potential,” says the organisation’s CEO, Vanessa Reed (pictured). “When we recognised in 2011 that only 16% of the commissions we were funding involved female music creators, we decided to set up a fund that would tackle this imbalance and encourage female composers and songwriters to come forward for support. […]

“Our [most recent] evaluation explored the current barriers faced by music creators and solutions that respond to these challenges, such as the continued importance of awareness raising across the music industry, the need for more women in the industry workforce, involvement of men and women as ambassadors for change and investment in targeted initiatives like Women Make Music in response to specific barriers.”

“The success of this fund will be determined by how soon it becomes redundant”

“Based on everything we’ve learnt from this evaluation,” she continues, “there’s no doubt that our Women Make Music fund is still needed in the short term – our commitment to developing it further with new partners forms part of this report’s recommendations. In the longer term, the success of this fund will be determined by how soon it becomes redundant.”

Reed says PRS Foundation has set itself the target of achieving a 50-50 balance of male–female applicants for its funding by 2022.

“This report calls on government, fellow funding agencies and other industry partners to work with us on this goal by endorsing and investing in good practice and positive action, like our Women Make Music fund, promoting role models for the next generation and improving working conditions for women in music,” she adds. “Only then can we be sure that a broader range of talent will be empowered to develop a career in writing music and that the music industry will better reflect the world around us.”

The foundation has provided £522,790 in grants to 157 female artists to date.

A similar recent report from Australia highlighted a “powerful, negative culture” in that country’s music industry, characterised by widespread “bullying, sexual assault, sexism and racism”.


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Men charged 150% more for Calvin Harris show

It’s expensive being a male Calvin Harris fan.

Men who want to go and see Harris at the 4,400-capacity Omnia nightclub at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, where the Briton is currently the DJ-in-residence, on 13 May can expect to pay 150% more than female fans, with a general admission presale ticket for women costing just US$40, compared to $100 for men.

Similarly, while a VIP package for the show will set back women $115, men pay $175 (52.17% more) for the same ticket through official agent Ticket Driver:

Calvin Harris at Omnia, 13 May, ticket prices, Ticket Driver

An explanation on the Omnia/Ticket Drive site says that “to benefit from our flexible check-in and transfer policy, male and female tickets have to be purchased separately for the same per ticket service fee”, but gives no reason for the massive disparity in price.

Such gender-based price discrimination is illegal in a number of US states, including California, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, but no laws exist in Nevada.

Harris’s partner, Taylor Swift, is a noted feminist who has long campaigned for gender equality in the music industry. (However, statements like “feminism is probably the most important movement that you could embrace, because it’s just basically another word for equality” don’t exactly fit with different gig prices for men and women.)

Martin Daubney, the ex-editor of lads’ mag Loaded, tells The Telegraph the event is trying the “same tawdry tactic” as many less prestigious nightclubs, which routinely charge women less for entry than men: “charge girls less, then rip off the men who live the forlorn dream they will go to a club full of lithe females.”

He adds: “It takes the [piss] out of everybody: the men for ripping them off and the women for treating them as cheap offerings on a meat rack.”

IQ has contacted the Omnia, Ticket Driver and a representative for Harris for comment.

Islamic fundamentalists disrupt Indonesian feminist punk gig

Indonesian feminist group Kolektif Betina (‘Female Collective’) was forced to call off the second of its two ‘Lady Fast’ concerts in the city of Yogyakarta after the first, on Saturday (2 April), was disrupted by an “unidentified group” shouting Islamic slogans.

The Lady Fast events, at the Survive! Garage venue, were to have featured live music, workshops, art exhibitions, a market and film screenings, including Ini Scene Kami Juga! (or This is Our Scene Too!), about the involvement of women in Indonesia’s punk scene, which “is still quite minor, because the hardcore/punk scene is considered a man’s world”.

However, at around 10pm, as the final performers took to the stage, a group of men stormed the venue, shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) and accusing organisers of “corupting morals, dressing inappropriately [and] being communists,” Kolektif Betina writes on its Facebook page.

“Our other female friends were also verbally assaulted with insults such as ‘Dirty!’, ‘Damaged women!’, ‘You are morally corrupt!'”

“One of our female friends who tried to get out of the crowd was assaulted physically by members of the unidentified group,” continues Kolektif Betina. “She was grabbed and yelled at: ‘Are you drunk?’ Our other female friends were also verbally assaulted with insults such as ‘Dirty!’, ‘Damaged women!’, ‘You are morally corrupt!'”

A warning shot was reportedly fired into the air by a police officer as members of Kolektif Betina were evacuated.

The punk subculture in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic nation, is one of the world’s largest and most vibrant but frequently finds itself in conflict with conservative religious forces, especially in devoutly Muslim provinces such as Aceh, where Sharia law is in force.