4 Canadian music festivals join international pledge for gender equality in lineups

Four Canadian music events are joining an international pledge to fight inequality in the industry by vowing to have gender parity across their lineups by 2022.

Montreal’s electronic music festival Mutek, western Canadian-based conference BreakOut West, and both North By Northeast and Canadian Music Week in Toronto are among 45 global events agreeing to take part in the initiative. 

The move is being led by U.K. talent firm PRS Foundation, which founded a program called Keychange in the hopes of “empowering women to transform the future of the music industry.”

Gender imbalance has long been a conversation in the music industry, though pressure has ramped up in recent years, with both the Grammy Awards and Junos facing criticism over a lack of female representation among their nominees. 

Music festivals have come under similar scrutiny for poor representation of women among their performers. Some have suggested it’s a relatively easy fix for promoters to book more female artists. Keychange’s goals offer festivals roughly five years to implement their changes.

Other international festivals and conferences among the participants for gender balance include Iceland Airwaves, NYC Winter Jazzfest, Liverpool Sound City and the Manchester Jazz Festival.


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