Female artists greatly underrepresented at Swiss festivals

A week ago, musician Sophie Hunger felt insulted by the exclusively male program at the Ticino festival “Moon & Stars”. This event is not an isolated one. Female artists are still heavily underrepresented at music festivals in Switzerland.

A few days ago, musician Sophie Hunger denounced the exclusively male programming of the Ticino festival “Moon & Stars” on Twitter.

Festival director Dani Büchi described the message as controversial and explained that this year it was not possible to book a musician who would attract between 8,000 and 10,000 spectators. “If less than 8,000 tickets are sold, the festival makes losses… We don’t offer a global program, but a series of individual concerts. Each one has to work on its own,” he defended himself in an interview with ATS. And to add: “Unfortunately, there are very few musicians in this league. The market is extremely limited.”


What about the programming of other festivals in Switzerland? We have analyzed the 2022 headliners of the most important musical events in French-speaking Switzerland: Estivale Open Air, Rock Oz Arènes, Palp, Caribana, Festi’neuch, Le Chant du Gros, Paléo, Montreux Jazz and Zion under the stars.

The posters of the most important festivals in French-speaking Switzerland in 2022.

Although these events vary in size and offerings, women artists tend to be underrepresented. If you only look at the headliners, the proportion of women is between 6% and 33%.

To give a scale, festivals like Paléo and Sion sous les étoiles have 6% female musicians, the Palp Festival 20% and Festi’Neuch almost 33%.

Rare Artists

For Michael Drieberg, head of live music production and organizer of Sion sous les étoiles, the controversy initiated by Sophie Hunger is a mock debate. “We would all like to have more female artists on stage and are actively looking for them. They’re already much less represented in the music industry and it’s difficult to find an artist capable of filling a 10,000+ place gamut. We usually fight about them between festivals and they are often already taken,” explains the organizer.

“If we go to the other extreme, we have stars like Adèle or Rihanna, who are unaffordable in western Switzerland and prefer to present themselves at larger-capacity events.”

What about the issue of festival ratings? “I think it’s ridiculous and I don’t think music should be classified. We have to show the public what they like. And if it’s mostly male this year, then the program will be mostly male,” he replies.

Look for variety

A false excuse for the association for the promotion of contemporary music in western Switzerland, the FCMA. The women who are sucking the public dry exist, but the reflexes to get them aren’t there yet.

“Certainly there is a structural problem, access to the scene and the market is difficult… But it’s still strange that there are still so few women in 2022,” emphasizes Managing Director Albane Schlechten. “I believe the mission of a festival director is to seek out that diversity. We need to expand our field of action, strive to look for them directly from labels or agencies, wherever they are.”

>> Read also: A “pink notebook” for more equality in the world of culture

At European level, several festivals have signed a charter through the initiative, aiming at more parity in the music industry key change. Such is the case at Primavera Sound, an event in Barcelona that manages to offer full gender parity in its line-up. In Switzerland, The incredible agency deals in particular with female artists.

>> See the interview with Swiss artist Flèche Love on the subject:

Flèche Love, Swiss-Algerian singer-songwriter, analyzes the underrepresentation of women at music festivals [RTS]

Flèche Love, a Swiss-Algerian singer-songwriter, analyzes the under-representation of women at music festivals / 7:30 p.m. / 2 min. / yesterday at 7:30 p.m

Web adaptation: Sarah Jelassi

TV topic: Mathieu Lombard

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