When will Primavera become ‘The New Normal’?


(written by Olivia Horne ︎ @oliviahorne)

As a music fan, Primavera Sound is a music festival that stands above many. Not only in its setting, sustainability initiatives, legendary performances, but now its gender balanced line up. As the first festival ever to promise a 50/50 split between male and female performers, Primavera emphasised this change last year with their ‘The New Normal’ marketing campaign, putting itself up against its competitors and showing the world its hopes for the future. The festival has recently announced its 2020 line up with its bill balanced once again, with a mix of high profile and low profile female artists such as Park Hye Jin, Weyes Blood, Lana De Rey and Shanti Celeste. With many music fans weighing the balance themselves due to the removal of their previous ‘New Normal’ branding, Primavera’s smartest and biggest strength now comes in showing that these line ups are effortlessly possible.


Primavera aren’t the only ones trying to take action to change the music festival landscape. In 2017 Keychange was set up, an initiative led by the PRS foundation, which hopes to transform the future of music, by secured the support of various festivals to commit to a 50/50 gender balanced line up by 2022. The question is, why are Primavera the only ones successfully doing so, or even mentioning it? With many reviews praising the festival for their successful 2019 show and their ability to show a music festival just as it should be. Showing a feeling between punters and fans that the ‘New Normal’ was not something to be preached about, but something to be expected and typical of festivals today; that seeing women in headline slots should be standard. For years it seems we’ve been under the belief that there isn’t enough female artists to play at festivals, let alone headline one! The female acts headlining and joining Primavera for both past and upcoming years aren’t all just incredibly talented and worthy, but come as a tool in reinforcing the importance and power of female artists and their music globally, not just in the music industry.

It is undeniable that most line ups to major American and European festivals tend to significantly fall at this promise. Research by the BBC in 2017, showed that eight out of 10 headline slots were occupied by all-male acts, out of 600 headline appearances across 14 major festivals’. With the New Normal here, why aren’t we pushing UK festivals to catch up? Reading and Leeds boss Melvin Benn, defends their 2018 male dominated lineup, telling the BBC he was launching a project offering 36 female artists a week’s studio recording time over the next three years, in order to ‘create a bigger pool of female acts’. Benn’s words implies that in the minds of the UK’s biggest festivals, no female artist currently touring is fit to headline. These thoughts have caused concern within the industry since 2015, when bloggers created copies of Reading and Leeds posters with all male acts removed, to show only 9 acts remained.


It raises the question to why? 2019 has shown that music is most definitely not just straight white men in bands. Music is Lizzo, the Grammy’s most nominated artist of 2019 with 8 nods. Music is Billie Eillish, Spotify’s 2nd most streamed artist of 2019. Music is Jorja Smith, Solance, Rosalia, H.E.R, Little Simz, Peggy Gou, Celeste, FKA Twigs, the list goes on because the list is endless!

As punters and music fans, should we be pushing our favourite festivals to be following in the footsteps of Primavera? or when do we just expect for this to become the norm? The New Normal needs to be a step towards true representation, the realisation that indie rock bands aren’t as relevant as they used to be, but instead a celebration of diverse music landscape, spanning many genders, ethnicities and sexualities.

Primevera Sound 2020 lineup: 
Facebook event page: click to visit here
Primavera Sound Official Website: click to visit here