If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of the Wireless Festival line-up, you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s finally here to cheer up your January. Kind of. The downside is that if you were hoping to slump around London’s Finsbury Park vibing to the sound of the ever-growing list of incredible female artists you’ve been eagerly following on social media and adding to your Spotify playlists, you won’t find many of them there.
Sadly, the Wireless schedule for 2018 only includes three women. Three brilliant women – Cardi B, Mabel and Lisa Mercedez – but yes, only three nonetheless.
‘The struggle is real’, Lily Allen tweeted yesterday. She shared a picture of the announcement poster with all of the men removed from the line up and if you ever needed any more proof that yes, photos do say a thousand words, here's a pretty stark example for you:
Depressingly, this isn’t a remotely new thing. Zara Larsson was the only woman to appear on last year’s initial poster announcement and across the board some of the UK’s biggest festivals don’t have a history of doing all that much better. But if there’s one thing that we’ve learned from the pace and progress of conversations about equal representation recently, it’s that this sort of thing won’t wash anymore.
The Debrief contacted Wireless for comment, and while they didn’t have an official statement in response to the discontent that’s been rumbling on social media over night, they highlighted that one of the female artist they did approach to perform, sadly declined.
Ray BLK, BBC Sound of 2017 winner and name on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list this year, tweeted: ‘For all of you saying I should be there, I was asked to do wireless festival and chose not to this year x’.
But that's just one artist, isn't it. It’s no secret that in the world of what people like to describe as ‘urban’ music, the women of rap, hip hop, grime, garage and the likes are often overshadowed by the male forces that are so readily celebrated and offered headline slots. But, why?
RAYE, Jorja Smith, Nadia Rose and Stefflon Don are just some of the many female artists whose names could've been at home on this years line up. They would've drawn crowds too. Big ones. And while the disappointment at not spotting them on Wireless posters isn't limited to this particular festival alone - it's an early indication that this year's festival landscape is probably going to be male heavy once again.
The question is, what's going to break the cycle? Because the embarrassing imbalance of representation and recognition in music extends way beyond the festival circuits. But without the right action taken within record labels, management, bookings and radio promotion, the prospect of progress any time soon is pretty bleak. Especially when we are, as a matter of fact, surrounded by talented women who do make sales, have social media followings and attract just as much of an interest as the boys do.
Follow Jazmin on Instagram @JazKopotsha
This article originally appeared on The Debrief.