Even today women are severely under-represented on festival line-ups and across the music business, both as performers and in behind-the-scenes roles (sound engineers, promoters, booking agents). The PRS #keychange initiative aims to tackle this, and is working to encourage a 50:50 gender balance in music festival programming by 2022, in addition to their broader goals in this area. The 50:50 principle includes any band that features at least one female/gender minority musician, by the way. So it is quite a generous way of measuring the numbers, and entirely achievable! True North Music is passionate about increasing gender parity within roots music, and we have made a conscious decision to play our part, by ensuring a good mix of gender representation in our live music programming and in which clients we choose to work with as a booking agent. As you can see, True North Music is already (at Jan 2020) exceeding the #keychange 50:50 goal.
68% of all the gigs we have promoted to date, and 80% of our booking agency clients to date, have featured female artists/bands which include female musicians.
We have found absolutely no issue in actively pursuing this principle while maintaining the highest artistic quality – it just takes a little extra thought. Check out our roster for many examples – for instance The Honey Dewdrops, Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves, Mile Twelve and Bill and the Belles are making some of the very best roots music out there. This is not to say that we don’t love our all-male bands – we do! We work with several fantastic all-male line-ups including The Slocan Ramblers and Man About A Horse. But as with many genres, bluegrass has historically been dominated by male artists (for many reasons including equality of opportunity in general). We want to make sure that we give female and female-identifying musicians a fair share of performance opportunities. As an independent, female promoter and booking agent, Maria is particularly passionate about supporting and promoting gender parity in roots music. There’s still a lot of work to do and we’re not complacent! Check out and follow the brilliant #bookmorewomen website and social media for compelling evidence of the current state of play across festival programming.