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3 years of gender-balanced line-ups for Way Out West

Sweden’s Way Out West festival, promoted by Live Nation-owned Luger, has announced Solange as the final headliner for its 2019 edition, completing a 50/50 gender split line-up for the third year running.

The singer joins previously announced headliners Cardi B, the Cure and Stormzy. Other acts to play at the Gothenburg-based festival include James Blake, Earl Sweatshirt, Zara Larsson and Christine and the Queens.

First obtaining gender-balanced programming in 2016, Way Out West signed up to the Keychange pledge in 2018 with over 150 other festivals, which commits participating festivals to achieve a gender-balanced line-up by 2020.

The Swedish live music scene came under fire in 2017 after almost 2,000 female agents, managers, promoters, production managers and artists signed an open letter detailing experiences of sexual harassment or assault within the music industry.

Talking to IQ for the Sweden market report, Luger co-founder Ola Broquist stated that the music industry in the country was working to resolve its issues. Broquist referenced “gender equality progression in festival line-ups” as an important part of this improvement process.

“Way Out West is one of a small number of festivals to present a line-up in which female artists are not outnumbered by their male counterparts”

Way Out West is one of a small number of festivals to present a line-up in which female artists are not outnumbered by their male counterparts.

This year, Barcelona’s Primavera Sound festival will feature its first-ever 50/50 line-up, with artists including Miley Cyrus, Carly Rae Jepsen, Janelle Monáe and Robyn. Way Out West headliner Cardi B cancelled her performance at Primavera Sound in April, due to promotional commitments.

In 2018, Sena Live’s Iceland Airwaves became the first major festival to have more women than men on the bill.

However, festivals participating in IQ‘s European festival preview stated that more needed to be done to encourage young, emerging female artists, as organisers struggled to find sufficient numbers of top-level female performers.

In addition to its efforts to promote gender equality, Way Out West is also committed to improving sustainability. The festival has been meat- and largely dairy-free since 2012. Last year, organisers invested in extra emission-reducing measures, in a bid to become climate neutral.

Way Out West takes place from 8 – 10 August 2019 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Three-day passes start from £140. More information can be found here.

 


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New Orleans’ Essence draws ‘record’ 4bn impressions

Essence Festival – an annual celebration of African-American music at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (76,468-cap.) in New Orleans – welcomed more than 470,000 attendees to its 24th edition last week, increasing attendance by 25,000 and garnering what organisers call a “record-breaking” four billion impressions on social media.

Complementing a night-time concert series (headliners were Diana Ross, John Legend, Chance the Rapper and Mary J. Blige), the festival once again featured “entertainment, empowerment and cultural experiences” targeted at black Americans, with actress Halle Berry, film director Ava DuVernay, civil-rights campaigner Al Sharpton and spiritual leader Iyanla Vanzant among the more than 100 speakers.

In addition to increasing attendance by ~6%, organisers say posts tagged with the #EssenceFest hashtag drew 4bn+ impressions on social media, with the festival also trending daily on Twitter.

This, say promoters, is a new record – although it should be noted iHeartRadio claimed its 2015 festival generated more than 6.5bn impressions. (New record or not, 4bn social engagements with an arguably fairly niche festival is undeniably impressive.)

Essence Festival is produced by Essence Festivals LLC, a division of Essence Communications (the publisher of the eponymous magazine), and New Orleans-based Solomon Group. Sponsors in 2017 included AT&T, Ford, McDonald’s, Walmart and naming partner Coca-Cola.

 


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