Sexism In the British Music Industry Must Stop - Now

Last week, we praised the Reading and Leeds line-up for having one eye on the future, in terms of the genres of the artists they have booked. Regretfully, we missed one key thing: a shameful lack of women. Other people certainly noticed it, and they were quick to point it out.

Overall, fewer than 20% of the artists who will be performing at the Reading and Leeds Festival this year are women, an outrageous statistic given the amount of talented women out there today. This is a mainstream festival we're talking about, specialising in genres in which there are countless women to choose from. To have fewer than one in five of your acts be women in 2020 is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, it's not just an isolated incident at the festival. The 40th BRIT Awards are tonight and this article was originally going to be a fun list of iconic moments from the past 40 years of the BRIT Awards. Instead, we did some research into the 2020 nominees and found that women are shockingly scarce. Specifically, in the four categories of awards that are open to both male and female artists, twenty-six of the nominees are men, while just FOUR are women. When your ratio of nominees is thirteen men for every two women, you have a problem. Times are changing; indeed, times HAVE changed - but the higher-ups in the music industry are failing to keep pace. It's not a good look, to say the least.

In an ideal world, the split would be a perfect 50-50, but even a 60-40 ratio would be a huge improvement on the current situation. That two major British music events have male-female ratios of worse than 80-20 is proof that it isn't a minor issue; it's endemic, indicative of large-scale problem. Of course, sexism is an issue across the world and across industries; music isn't alone in this. But music is something that should unite us, not divide, yet there's a deep-rooted misogyny in there that stands in the way.

Lady Leshurr
Lady Leshurr: one of the lucky few women who will be performing at Reading and Leeds this year.

It hurts female artists in more ways than one. Some of the replies from young men to the tweet above are deeply rooted in sexism, with one saying that women will be "doing the dishes as they should be", whilst another adds that there will be "plenty [of women] on the catering trucks". The flagrant misogyny is one thing, but what's worse is that the music industry is effectively acting as an enabler for these men, with their own shortcomings allowing men to feel validated when they say these things. It's an untenable situation.

There are so many fantastic women out there to listen to. Lizzo. Hayley Williams. Taylor Swift. Nina Nesbitt. Mabel. Gabrielle Aplin. Lady Leshurr. Ariana Grande. We could on...and we will. Billie Eilish. Dua Lipa. Nova Twins. Halsey. Georgia. Bloxx. Becky Hill. Stevie Nicks. Anne-Marie. The list goes on and on.

It's important to note that this isn't about bringing men down, far from it. A common misconception of the fight against sexism is that it's anti-men, which is absolutely isn't. However, women are under-represented and under-appreciated - that is an objective fact. It's not about bringing men down - it's about lifting women up so that they are held on the same high pedestal.

How can we achieve this? The best way is just to keep shouting; indeed, that is both the beauty and the curse of social media. It gives a platform to everyone, whether it be misogynistic young men or women fighting for equality. This platform can be so powerful when used in the right way. Sign and share petitions, support female artists, and keep fighting until those in power can't ignore you any longer.

The music industry has a long, long way to go. This is a new decade and it's started off on the wrong foot. Let's hope that by 2030, things will look a lot different to how they do today.