Festival Republic launch initiative to address gender imbalance in the music industry

The three-year project aims to give female-identifying bands, artists and studio engineers a step up

Festival Republic have announced the launch of ReBalance, a new initiative that will address the gender imbalance in the music industry.

The Leeds-based project will run for three years and will provide one week’s studio recording to a UK-based female musician, solo artist or female-featuring band each month from 2018 through 2020. Studio and engineering costs will be paid for by Festival Republic, along with accommodation and travel.

At the end of each year, the artists selected will be given slots at a Festival Republic or Live Nation festival. The organisation are defining female as anyone who identifies as a woman, while for bands to be eligible they must include a woman or women who are “fundamental to writing and producing duties.”


ReBalance will also include an apprenticeship scheme for studio engineers, with an emphasis on encouraging female applicants. PRS Foundation’s recent Women Make Music Evaluation found that only 16 percent of UK songwriters and composers are female and that women are less prevalent in other roles in the industry. It cites engineering specifically as being “viewed as an almost entirely closed shop.”

Two apprentices will be chosen to take part in the three-year programme. In the first 18 months, they will work with in-house engineers at Leeds’ Old Chapel Music Studio. The second 18 months will see them become lead or co-engineers on the project.

Industry experts will be invited by Festival Republic and PRS Foundation to nominate artists and engineers for the programme. A selection panel of musicians, journalists, booking agents, label bosses and more will then shortlist and select the successful acts.

Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn said in a press release: “Something needs to be done about gender equality in the music industry. It’s a wider issue that involves us (the live industry) but the solution doesn’t rest only with us.

“I have decided to be proactive in changing and working towards this no longer being an issue in the future, and that’s what this project is about.”


Fickle Friends‘ singer Natti Shiner, who is part of the selection panel, added: “Let’s face it, guitar music is male-dominated and it seems like the wider music industry is hardwired towards men – even the fact that people often feel they have to refer to our band as being “female-fronted” feels wrong (who ever referred to Arctic Monkeys as a “male-fronted band?!).

“ReBalance is important because it looks to tackle this issue in a long-term way. Rather than just sticking a few female artists on some bills as a token gesture, it will provide support for the things that matter to an emerging artist – studio time, travel, accommodation, practical advice etc.”