Since she stormed onto the scene with 2017's number one hit (and life mantra) "New Rules," Dua Lipa has only gone from strength to strength. At just 22 years old, the young singer has scored two UK number ones and toured from New York to Singapore. But, the singer hasn't forgotten how much work it took to get to this point, and isn't shy talking about how systemic problems in the music industry can hinder young female musicians. Her most recent comments came in an interview with NME, where Dua Lipa called for women to headline music festivals as often as their male counterparts.
Music festivals have always had a gender imbalance, with male artists securing more spots than their female peers. In research carried out by Pitchfork, where 19 American festivals were analysed, an astounding 70 percent of the musicians and bands featured were male. The situation in the UK is not much better, with festivals such as Wireless, Slam Dunk, and Green Man having only a fraction of the number of female artists compared to male. Many influential names in the music industry have condemned the sexism within the industry, with Dua Lipa's comments calling for more female festival headliners being the most recent.
Dua Lipa is arguably one of the most famous names in pop music at the moment and the infectious pop bangers from her self-titled debut album have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and notched up billions of YouTube views. Deservedly, she has earned a spot in some of the biggest music events this summer, such as the renowned Reading and Leeds festival on 24 to 26 August. As reported by NME, Dua Lipa is well aware of the festival's history of having male-heavy, rock-oriented line-ups, saying of her own appearance: "I totally know the legacy that Reading & Leeds have had and that in the past, it’s been more of a rock festival, but when you come to do a show, there’s so much energy to it and there’s so much diversity to the sound, it’s not just a pop show."
The singer went on to say that she feels that festivals have plenty of space for more diversity in their bookings and that pop artists should be as venerated as any other genre, because "there is room for pop artists to come and bring their best show to festivals which aren’t necessarily directed in that genre.” The quality of the show should prevail over unswerving traditions. Preach.
After Beyonce's incredible and unforgettable headline show at Coachella earlier in 2018, more festivals should be following suit and placing female artists on main stages. The problem runs deeper, it seems, with Dua Lipa going on to say in NME that male-dominated management in the music industry makes it very difficult for young female artists. "A lot of [it] is down to the festival directors and the people they book. I think people need to start opening their eyes and ears and realising that there’s so much female talent out there. Obviously festivals need established talent but it’s really important to bring new music into big festivals and to give them an opportunity."
Other celebrities that haven't remained quiet about the issue include Lily Allen, who back in January tweeted an amended poster for Wireless festival which removed all the male acts to reveal the disgraceful lack of female performers in the starting line-up. Writing in Grazia in response to the line-up, DJ Annie Mac rightly pointed out: "It's really quite something for not even one of the Wireless bookers to pipe up and say 'Lads, maybe we should get a few more female names on there.'" At the time, Wireless told the BBC they had no comment on the subject.
With more young female artists topping the charts than ever, promoters should have no excuses for not creating festival line-ups that don't achieve a fair gender balance. After an incredible appearance during the Opening Ceremony of this year's Champions League final, Dua Lipa proved that the gender of the artist has nothing to do with the quality of the work, and that when given headline spaces, female performers will time and time again play a blinder. Her success has set new highs for female artists everywhere and she has redefined what it means to be a pop star in 2018, with outspoken moments like this hopefully making a difference in the industry.
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