Is Glastonbury sexist? (Infographic)

Now that the full line-up for this year’s Glastonbury Festival has been revealed, I thought it would make for an interesting study to work out exactly what it takes to be a Glastonbury headliner.

I looked at all the Pyramid Stage headliners for the past 15 Glastonbury Festivals (which takes us all the way back to 1997 – due to the ‘fallow years’ in 2001, 2006 and 2012). There are three headliners a year, so that gives us 45 acts to look at – a few of them have headlined more than once (Radiohead, Muse, Blur etc…) so there’s actually been 37 different headline acts to analyse.

Here’s what I found when I crunched through the data:

 Glasto sexist

So as it turns out, if you want to headline Glastonbury then your best bet is to be in an all-male UK band of between 3-5 members! If you’re a solo artist, then being a man from the US seems to be an advantage to getting a headline slot.

As I put this together I was surprised by the lack of female representation in the headline slot. Beyonce is the only female solo star to headline Glasto since 1997 – and of the accumulated band members that have headlined in that time, just 4% have been women (and that’s including Arcade Fire’s Regine Chassagne who will headline this year).

It’s worth noting here that Kylie Minogue was due to headline back in 2005 before being replaced for health reasons, but even so these stats don’t reflect well on Glastonbury organisers – or is it more symptomatic of a male-dominated music industry?

I’d love to get your opinions on this, so let me know what you think in the comments below – is Glastonbury guilty here or are they just reflecting what’s going on in the music industry in general?

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Post Author: Luke Glassford

All-Noise was founded in 2010 with just one simple aim – to highlight and celebrate ‘proper music’, made by real people with real musical inspirations.

4 thoughts on “Is Glastonbury sexist? (Infographic)


    (2014-05-10 - 1:55 pm)

    A well meaning post, good on you


    (2014-05-10 - 2:08 pm)

    A well meaning post, good on you. It takes a while though, I feel, to climb the ranks of the music industry to the pinnacle of major festival headliner. Glastonbury therefore is still picking its headliners from acts who began ascending say… before 2004/5? The music industry was far more male dominated then. New music acts over the last few years, however – especially in pop music – have been more female. Beyonce perhaps marked the start of this, and I’m not saying that all of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Florence & The Machine, La Roux, Ellie Golding, Little Mix etc. will have long enough periods of incredible success to match Beyonce/Kylie, but a few will, and they will make for brilliant headline sets one day.


    (2014-05-11 - 2:04 am)

    If you wan’t to be a female headliner, your music has to appeal to both sexes of music fans / festival goers. Big female artists like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Beyonce largely appeal to Female festival goers, not Males. 

    The reason why we keep getting Kasabian / Arctic Monkeys / Kaiser Chiefs / Jake Bugg / Black Keys types headlining is because men and women will listen to them happily and they are big bands that attract customers.
    Metallica is a bit of a curveball this year, being a very testosterone fuelled band that the girls might not be interested in. But the opposite could be said about Beyonce a few years back.

    I would love to see Bjork headline, she is / was big enough and generally very interesting and engaging for both genders.


    (2014-05-12 - 10:04 am)

    Great article. I’m not so sure if it means Glastonbury sexist or is just reflecting a gender bias of bands promoted by the music industry. I’d like to know, for example, if the music industry as a whole signed a 100 new bands – what would the population be by gender?

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