How to get more women to choose a career as a musician? Find the answers to your questions about the gender balance in the music programme here.

Why are there fewer women than men in the music programme?
Fewer women than men choose to pursue a professional career in music. Festivals and venues are dependent on the supply of musicians and are the last stop in a long food chain that stretches from music schools in the early years to the point of choosing a professional career as a musician.

What we see is that more girls and women choose not to pursue a career in music compared to their male colleagues. That is why we have fewer women to choose from when putting together the music programme.

Moreover, there is a lower representation of female musicians in some of the genres (e.g. metal, punk) and geographic regions that Roskilde Festival wishes to present on our stages that are a part of our efforts to achieve a high diversity in the music programme in many areas.

Is it a problem that there are fewer female musicians?
Yes. Musical talent does not depend on gender. So, when the gender balance in the music business does not reflect the composition of the population, we miss out on the talents of the future.

What do you do to change the crooked gender balance?
We focus our efforts on upcoming artists and talent work, on role models, and on the exchange of views, opinions and experiences.

  • Change early on for new artists and talents
    Change should happen a lot sooner in the food chain of the music business. We have a co-responsibility for developing and maintaining the talents that start when they’re young, are part of music schools and who perhaps one day will perform at Roskilde Festival.

    We have a dedicated donation pool that offers financial support for young artists and organisers. In recent years we have supported talent development at a string of underground clubs, venues and associations, including initiatives like She Can Play, Popkollo, the collective KOSO, and partnerships that benefit 13 to 18-year-olds (for example Musikstarter). See the donations of recent years to up-and-coming artists in our Yearbook 2018 (page 32) and Yearbook 2017 (pages 23 and 27).

    On our two talent stages, Rising and Countdown, we annually present about 40 concerts. MØ played to the first big audience of her career on our talent stage back in 2013, and acts like Iris Gold, Jada, Ellis May, Konni Kass, Miriam Bryant, and Clarissa Connelly were among the ones debuting on these stages in 2018. It is on these stages that we can build the bridge for aspiring talents to reach the big stages. Among other things, we do this by giving young artists a (helpful) push for upcoming tours and interest from abroad. Therefore, it is extra important, here, that we give room to the best female musicians that we are able to find from the Nordic countries.
  • Change through role models
    Art can be a tool for change, and a concert at Roskilde Festival can influence the public understanding that fewer women than men choose a career as a musician. Therefore, we prioritise female artists that function as strong role models. Cardi B shows another way in a male-dominated genre, and and Robyn have steered their careers towards international recognition on their own. Silvana Imam and Christine & the Queens play with gender norms, giving a voice to society’s marginalised groups, while Stella Donnelly sings about difficult aspects of growing up as a woman (just listen to ‘Boys Will Be Boys’). Rosalía mixes genres and cultural expressions in new formats.

    Read more about this year’s (female) artists
  • Change through dialogue
    Exchanges of views and experiences are a means to change. We too have the need to become wiser, and we, naturally, share our experiences. For those reasons, we participate in debates and networks all year round, and we use the festival as a platform to generate attention to gender and equality. Our programmers participate in panels on industry festivals such as Eurosonic, SPOT, at KeyChange and the NGO Freemuse, and they have contributed to the debate with an opinion piece on the subject.

    The festival is also a meeting place for music, art, and social consciousness, where we can influence each other’s opinions and disrupt entrenched habits. Here we focus on subjects such as gender, equality and sexuality in- and outside the music industry, for example in cooperation with Freemuse, the Danish Women’s Society and the Danish Family Planning Association. Read more about how we have set gender norms up for debate (available in Danish only for the time being).

Do you use gender quotas in the music programme?
No. The gender awareness in the programming is part of a broader emphasis on diversity and artistic quality. We aim to be a platform for new ideas and to confront the festival-goers with experiences that they didn’t expect to encounter beforehand.

We do not believe that quotas for men, women and non-binary artists will change the structural imbalance. Adopting a quota on, say, 50 % women will on our part mostly be of benefit for our reputation but will not benefit the arts and artists in the future. Other efforts have to be implemented.

We believe that genuine change must happen in the work with talents, through role models and through a persistent focus on the problem.

What is the percentage of women in the music programme?
Percentage calculations alone will not get more girls to choose a career as a musician, and the percentages do not explain the imbalance to us and how it can be changed.

Therefore, we do not calculate the percentage of women, men and non-binary artists as the calculation does not support the criteria for our programming.

Calculations of percentages – and the comparisons of these across years and events – are easy to relate to. But the percentages tell us exclusively that the women are outnumbered, which has been well-documented and debated since 2012.

Only actions, tangible efforts and the sharing of knowledge can influence the gender balance in the right direction. We consequently encourage that the dialogue about the gender balance is not just based on percentages but is complemented with contributions that enlighten the tendencies or constructively contribute to change.

What is your attitude towards the KeyChange initiative and their goal about reaching a 50/50 percent gender balance in 2022?
We hope that the festivals will succeed in reaching their declared goals. We have chosen not to sign the declaration or in other ways commit ourselves to percentages for gender balance (read about why above).

The KeyChange initiative’s strength is that it – right from the start – got a good grip on the festivals primarily presenting upcoming artists. It is at these festivals that the aspiring artists are usually spotted internationally. We have therefore showed our support to the initiative by donating 10,000 euro. We are also regularly in touch with KeyChange and have participated in several debates about at the initiative.

How is the gender balance in Denmark?
A report in 2012 showed that men are in the vast majority of the rhythmic (that is, non-classical) part of the Danish live music industry with a gender balance of 80/20 across professional groups such as musicians, teachers, decision makers and bookers and programmers. The report was conducted by the Danish Artists’ Union, the Danish Musicians’ Union, Danish Songwriters’ Guild, and DJBFA / Composers and Songwriters.

Read more:

Roskilde Festival Yearbook 2018
”Kønsbalancen skal ændres i vækstlagene” (pp. 24-25)

Opinion piece in Politiken, 6 April 2017
”Vi vil gerne have flere kvinder på scenerne, men vi tror hverken på kvoter eller procenter”

Report: Diversity in the music industry and live talent 2018
By Dansk Live

Jyllands-Posten, 28 January 2018
»Det er altså ikke en naturlov, at det er drengene, der spiller trommer, bas og guitar«