The organisers of Reading & Leeds Festival – one of the biggest music events in the UK – have responded to criticism after announcing a heavily male-dominated lineup for the 2017 event.
The twin festivals – held in southern and northern England respectively – announced a wave of acts Thursday morning, featuring only one main-stage band with a female member.
Kasabian and Muse (pictured above) will headline the concerns, with Against the Current, a three-piece band with a female vocalist, being the only announced band with a woman.
Music critics and feminists pounced on the news and attacked Festival Republic, the body behind choosing acts for the event, which some 90,000 people attend.
This is what the Reading & Leeds lineup looks like when you remove male artists/bands, shocking pic.twitter.com/KZYkHOt4MF
— sophie (@sophxthompson) January 26, 2017
— The Independent (@Independent) January 26, 2017
In response, organisers noted that market forces – rather than sexism – are responsible for who gets asked to perform.
Contacted by Heat Street, a festival spokesman would not issue a fresh statement, but referred previous comments by promoter Melvin Benn in response to a similar outrage in 2015.
Speaking to the Guardian, he said: “Why do you think we book the same male acts again and again? Because they sell tickets.
“Trust me, if there was a female headline act in the rock genre that sold the same amount of tickets as any one of the headline acts this year, I’d book them.”
In a separate interview, he said that there had been “a historic lack of opportunity for young women to get into bands”, but said that era had ended, and that merit was the only condition of being picked to play the festival.
Despite the first wave of criticism, and despite steadily increasing prices, last year the event sold more tickets than ever.